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Maserati Levante 2018 review: S GranSport


Now that traditional luxury car manufacturers are entering the SUV market, it’s not hard to see why everyone is clamouring to get a look in. I mean, here we have a Maserati. That’s an SUV. Together in one! Does this combination work or is it just a waste of a good engine? 

I drove the Maserati Levante S GranSport for a whole week with my family of four. Here’s how it held up going from work, to the school run, to family grocery shopping.

What does it look like?

I think we have to talk looks first because… Maserati. The Levante is a beautiful looking car, and I don’t say that lightly because SUVs do not look like sports cars, nor will they ever. But Maserati has managed to transcend the boxiness of the SUV and imbue traditional Italian style into an SUV’s body, with lush curves that are almost Rubenesque. It’s a big car but is still elegant.

 The Levante is a beautiful looking car, and I don’t say that lightly because SUVs do not look like sports cars. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The Levante is a beautiful looking car, and I don’t say that lightly because SUVs do not look like sports cars. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The interiors are just as good. The GranSport I drove was dual toned in brown and black leather, and had a luxurious finish. The seats are made from smooth, quality leather, as is the steering wheel which is beautiful to hold - something I think makes for a great daily driving experience. 

The dash upholstery is finished in an extra special brown and black nubuck leather. An old-school speedo display (together with a digital read-out) makes it retro cool and reminds you that you’re actually in a sports car. 

The dash upholstery is finished in an extra special brown and black nubuck leather. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The dash upholstery is finished in an extra special brown and black nubuck leather. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The centre console is well thought out and designed, and everything has an A1 premium finish. The gear-shifter and centre storage are quite high for an SUV. You usually have a bit more elbow room in the bigger cars, but the compact design is in line with a smaller, sporty feel. It has a large sunroof which makes the whole cabin feel light and airy. 

How does it drive?

The engine is designed by Maserati and assembled by Ferrari, so, let’s just say it’s great. It’s certainly loud, and it’s definitely powerful, zooming up hills and around other cars easily, holding fast to corners and driving seriously well. 

It’s heavier than a sports car and you can feel it, but because the engine is 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, the size doesn’t really impact the driving. I found the gears a bit sticky at first and couldn’t get it into reverse quickly enough when I needed to, but by the end of the week I was a pro and changed gears fast, and easily.

The engine is 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The engine is 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

It’s a big car and is very high off the road - the highest SUV I’ve driven because it’s the only one I could see properly out of my driveway with, something I always have trouble doing. Not in this car, however. 

It felt good on the road but I did feel quite conspicuous driving it. It’s not just a Maserati, it’s a giant Maserati. The size made parking quite tricky and in the end, I found myself choosing spaces where I knew it would fit. Parallel parking wasn’t an issue, it was more parking at shopping centres in between two cars that I had trouble with because of the sheer bulk of it. 

How spacious is it?

The front is good - lots of leg and headroom for driver and passenger. My 185cm husband had no trouble in the front at all, even with the centre console and storage area taking up precious elbow room. The payoff is that it feels like you’re in a more compact car, and Maserati's going for that experience, which it pulls off quite well.

  • There's lots of leg and headroom for driver and passenger in the front seats. (image credit: Dean McCartney) There's lots of leg and headroom for driver and passenger in the front seats. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • The back is not as spacious as you would imagine for such a sizeable car. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The back is not as spacious as you would imagine for such a sizeable car. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The back is not as spacious as you would imagine for such a sizeable car, and my husband was quite squishy in there. Still, if you don’t have giant teenagers (or if you’re only 161cm like me) you’ll be fine. My two children aged four and six had loads of room to spare. 

The boot is a good size at 580 litres, but it’s not as big as it could be, and this was surprising because it’s such a long car. They could have opened up the back a bit more. No complaints on our week of driving though, I easily slotted in a full load of groceries and the kids bikes got in there perfectly fine.

The boot of the Levante is a good size at 580 litres. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The boot of the Levante is a good size at 580 litres. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

How easy was it to use every day?

Getting in and out for my children took a bit longer than usual as it was so high off the ground, the youngest needed help. There are two cupholders in the front, two in the back plus a bottle holder in each door. That centre storage bin so nicely hidden under two leather doors is actually really deep and there is room for two full sized bottles in there, great for long trips. 

The car is quite heavy, and I found all the framework heavy, too. You need to push the doors hard to close, and it was all a bit of a workout getting two little ones in and out of the car. Still, hardly anything to write home about.

The air-con is powerful, and it was enough to fend off the heat on a stifling 40 degree day. Air vents in the back meant the kids were comfortable, too. 

The turning circle is 11.7 metres which is on par with other… seven seaters, but this is a five seater, so it’s on the large side. 

How safe is it?

What’s the tech like?

There is an 8.2-inch multimedia touchscreen with digital radio and also Apple Carplay and Android Auto, which means you just plug in your phone to one of the USB sockets and you’re instantly connected to your main apps including maps and Spotify. Easy. It doesn’t look as advanced as some other cars but I think that’s more to do with the layout of the screen than the actual technology, because it works really well.

 The 8.2-inch multimedia touchscreen comes with digital radio and also Apple Carplay and Android Auto. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The 8.2-inch multimedia touchscreen comes with digital radio and also Apple Carplay and Android Auto. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

There is also an incredible sound system so you can put the volume up and drive like you’re in your own little world, a great way for parents to switch off. 

What does it cost to run?


The Wrap

It has certainly been an experience driving the Maserati Levante S GranSport this week. Pure luxury combined with a revving performance engine while driving the kids to school has been entertaining, to say the least. It comfortably accommodated my family of four and won full points for styling, but was also quite big and tricky to park. I gave it a family rating of eight out of 10, taking points off for sheer bulk, and my kids gave it a nine out of 10 - they loved having to make the effort to climb in, and especially liked the brown leather interior.

Likes

Exterior and interior styling
Powerful engine
Feels like a sportscar

Dislikes

Bulky to park
Not as big as it could be inside
Fuel consumption

Scores

Nedahl:

4

The Kids:

4.5

$144,888 - $174,900

Based on 6 car listings in the last 6 months

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