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Maserati Levante


Range Rover Evoque

Summary

Maserati Levante

Maserati. What do you reckon that name means to most people? Fast? Loud? Italian? Expensive? SUVs?

Well, maybe not the last one, but it likely will soon. See, with the Levante SUV accounting for half of all Maseratis now sold in Australia, shortly it’ll feel like SUVs are all Maserati makes. 

And that may happen even faster with the arrival of the most affordable Levante ever - the new entry-grade, simply called Levante.

So, if this new cheaper Levante isn’t expensive (in Maserati terms) does that mean it’s not fast, loud or even Italian, now? 

We drove this new, most affordable, Levante at its Australian launch to find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency11.8L/100km
Seating5 seats

Range Rover Evoque

The original Range Rover Evoque was a victory. It was the right car, in the right place, at the right time.

It was a small SUV dropped in an unprepared premium segment, it went on to become a design icon and subsequently Land Rover’s fastest-selling SUV.

As the years rolled on though, competitors caught up, and Land Rover launched its stunning Velar in the segment above. The unthinkable had happened. The Evoque looked dated.

At long last, Land Rover has launched the second-generation version. Can it replicate even a fraction of the success of the first? We drove it at its Australian launch to find out if it has what it takes.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.1L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Maserati Levante7.3/10

The entry-grade Levante is the best choice in the current line-up (Levante, Levante Turbo Diesel and Levante S) because it’s almost identical in performance and features to the pricier S. 

I’d give the GranLusso and GranSport packs a miss on this base Levante, but would consider them on the S where they are possibly worth the extra $10,000 rather than the $35K asking price on the entry car.

The Levante does a lot right – the sound, the safety and the exterior styling. But the quality of the interior, with its FCA shared parts, lowers what should be a prestige feel.

And back seat comfort could be better, Maseratis are grand tourers and an SUV from this brand should be able to accommodate at least four adults in superb comfort – something this one can’t do.


Given the choice and about $130K would you choose a Porsche Cayenne or a Maserati Levante? Tells us what you think in the comments below.


Range Rover Evoque7.8/10

The second-generation Range Rover Evoque is a lot of things. It’s stunning to look at, better to drive, more practical, and more luxurious than ever before.

While it’s also hugely expensive and has lost some of the charm that came with its once-small visage, it achieves something far more important for the Evoque name, and that’s keeping it relevant in an increasingly congested luxury space.

Do you think the second-generation Evoque has reclaimed its ‘design icon’ throne? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Also check out Andrew Chesterton's thoughts from the Evoque's international launch.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Design

Maserati Levante7/10

The Levante looks exactly how a Maserati SUV should, with the long bonnet flanked by curvaceous wheel arches with their vents, leading towards a grille that looks ready to eat up slower cars. The heavily raked windscreen and cab-back profile is also very Maserati, as are haunches that muscle over the rear wheels.

If only its bottom was less Maserati. It’s a personal thing, but I find Maserati rear ends lack the drama of their faces and the Levante’s tailgate is no different in that it borders on plain.

Inside, the Levante looks to be a premium, well-crafted place, although closer inspection reveals there are certain items which appear to be shared with other brands which, like Maserati, are owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)

The window and headlight switches, the ignition button, the air-conditioning controls, even the display screen all can be found in Jeeps and other FCA cars.

There are no functionality issues here, but from a design and style perspective they look a little basic and lack the refinement a buyer may expect from a Maserati.

There’s a lack of technological pizazz inside as well. For example, there’s no head-up display or large virtual instrument cluster as you’ll find in the Levante’s competitors.

Despite the Jeep-looking bits the Levante is truly Italian. The chief designer Giovanni Ribotta is Italian and the Levante is made at FCA's Mirafiori plant in Turin.

What are the Levante’s dimensions? The Levante is 5.0m long, 2.0m wide and 1.7m tall. So that means space inside is enormous right? Um… let’s talk about that in the next section, shall we? 


Range Rover Evoque9/10

Put simply – the Evoque has returned to put competitors back where they belong. It is truly stunning for an SUV. To my eyes, at least, it has dethroned the Volvo XC40 as the most attractive small SUV on the market.

Sure, it’s more Victoria Beckham than Bear Grylls, but the Range Rover brand has crept beyond upmarket from its hose-out interior roots – and the Evoque owns it.

Land Rover has managed to morph the seamless, slick lines of the Velar onto the Evoque's petite and chunky frame. Design touches like LED headlights (now standard), contrast bodypanels and flush doorhandles add to this car’s stunning visage as you get closer.

Still, it’s undeniably an Evoque and has held onto design pillars like the ‘high beltline’ that rides from the headlamps to the tail-lights and descending roofline.

Inside, the Evoque has also continued to push upmarket with leather-trimmed surfaces from the base S up. It still has the signature chunky door inserts with recessed handles and window/mirror controls and has lovely seats no matter the grade with a premium-feel raised centre console stack.

It’s also in the centre where the Evoque has gained the elegant ‘Touch Pro Duo’ set-up from its larger sibling the Velar, totally de-cluttering the space.

Smart design touches are abound with well-textured and hidden storage areas throughout.

It all looks incredible, but there are a few downsides worth noting. The Evoque now has the huge steering wheel from the rest of the Range Rover range, making the helm feel more cumbersome than it was in its predecessor, and the abundance of gloss surfaces results in a potentially glare-heavy and difficult to keep clean cabin.

Don’t like the cars in the pictures? No problems, Land Rover offers no less than 17 different interior trim packages with five different textured highlights and numerous headlinings and wheel trims for pretty much any taste.

Practicality

Maserati Levante7/10

You know the Tardis from Dr Who? The time machine police phone box that is much bigger on the inside than it appears from the outside? The Levante’s cabin is a reverse Tardis (a Sidrat?) in that even at five metres long and two metres wide, legroom in the second row is tight and at 191cm tall I can only just sit behind my driving position.

Headroom is also getting tight back there because of the swooping roofline. These aren’t major issues, but If you were thinking of using the Levante as a SUV limousine of sorts then the limited room back there just won’t be enough to let your taller passengers stretch out comfortably.

Also ruling it out as a chauffeur car in my view is the ride experience in the second row. I’ll cover this in the driving section below.

The Levante’s cargo capacity is 580 litres (with second row seats up) which is on the small side, and less than the Porsche Cayenne’s 770 litre boot space.

Cabin storage is pretty good, with a giant centre console bin up front with two cupholders inside. There are another two cupholders near the shifter and two more in the fold-down armrest in the rear. Door pockets are on the smaller side, however.


Range Rover Evoque8/10

The Evoque is on a heavily updated platform with its very bones having been altered to future-proof it for hybrid drivetrains.

This has resulted in a 20mm increase to its wheelbase, which is reflected directly into its now-gigantic cabin.

Aside from the invasively large steering wheel, the driver is greeted with an airy and spacious cabin with plenty of room for elbows across the thick centre console and chiseled out door cards.

Almost every surface greets you with a soft material, although the window line is quite high, making resting your arm there impractical.

There are storage spaces everywhere. Bottle holders in the doors, cupholders in the centre console, a massive top-box with a split opening and power sources within, a decently-sized glove box and a huge trench hidden underneath the second-screen.

The designers have had the foresight to put lovely textures on the base of storage surfaces to prevent items like phones, wallets and even pens from finding their way onto the floor.

Rear passengers are greeted with no shortage of legroom, dual rear air-vents, pockets on the back of the front seats and trenches in the doors.

Seat trim and comfort are easily as good as the front seats, and despite the declining roofline, headroom is plentiful for someone my size (I’m 182cm tall).

An odd annoyance I noted was the lack of handles above the doors. Almost every car has these. Not sure why this one doesn’t.

Don’t be deceived by the Evoque’s squashed rear window. I found on my test drive its surprisingly easy to see out of it, and then, there’s the boot.

The boot is truly gigantic, the Evoque’s new platform has made it 20cm wider than it was before, but it’s the volume that’s staggering. At 591 litres with the rear seats up it easily pulls punches with SUVs a size up.

There’s also an elastic belt and netted area for securing small objects. There are a few small catches to this voluminous space, and that’s that the rear seats don’t fold fully flat, making for a smaller total space and there’s only a space-saver spare wheel on offer under the boot floor.

Price and features

Maserati Levante7/10

Guessing you want to know just how much more affordable this Levante is compared to the other grades in the range? Okay, the entry-level Levante lists for $125,000, before on-road costs.

That may sound expensive but look at it like this: the entry Levante has the same Maserati-designed and Ferrari-made 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 as the $179,990 Levante S and an almost identical standard features list. 

So how on this planet is it possible there could be a $55K price difference and yet the cars be almost the same? What’s missing?

Horsepower is missing – the base grade Levante may have the same V6 as the Levante S but it doesn’t have as much grunt. But we’ll get to that in the engine section.

As for the other differences – there aren’t many, almost none. The Levante S comes with a sunroof as standard and front seats that adjust to more positions than the Levante, but both grades come with an 8.4-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, leather upholstery (the S does get more premium leather), a proximity key and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Those standard features are also identical to those in the Turbo-Diesel which sits above the Levante at $159,990.

Apart from less horsepower, no standard sunroof (as on the S) and upholstery which isn’t quite as nice as the S’s another downside to the base grade Levante is that optioning the GranLusso and GranSport packs is expensive… really expensive.

The GranLusso adds luxurious touches to the exterior in the form of metallic trim to the roof rails, the window frames and protection plates to the front bumper, while in the cabin thee front seats come in a choice of Ermenegildo Zegna silk upholstery, Pieno Fiore (full-grain) leather or premium Italian hide.

The GranSport toughens up the exterior with a more aggressive body kit with black elements and adds 12-way power adjustable sports seats, brushed-chrome shifting paddles and aluminium-face sports pedals.

The features those packages offer are nice – those silk and leather seats are sumptuous for example, but each pack costs $35,000. That’s almost 30 per cent of the list price of the entire vehicle, extra. The same packages on the Levante S costs just $10,000.

While the Levante is the most affordable Levante, and also the cheapest Maserati you can buy, it’s more expensive than its Porsche Cayenne (entry V6 petrol) rival which lists for $116,000, while the Range Rover Sport 3.0 SC HSE is $130,000 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE 43 is $135,529.

Is the new entry-grade Levante good value, then? Yes, for a Maserati, if you don’t option the packages, and yes compared to most of its rivals.


Range Rover Evoque8/10

Now this is a tough one, because to its credit, Land Rover has made many of the essential items standard. That having been said, as I’m writing this I’m looking at an options list that’s 15 pages long.

There’s also the fact that once you consider the three trim levels, six(!) engines and two body options you’re left with a monumental 26 possible permutations of this car – and that’s before you start delving into those options.

To break it down, the Evoque has three familiar grades. The S, SE and HSE. From there you pick an engine.

The entry-level S, starting at $62,670 (before on-road costs) can only be had with the base four engines (P200, P250 petrol, D150, D180 diesel) and comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, a 10-inch multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support as well as built-in sat nav, leather interior with 10-way electrically adjustable front seats, manually adjustable climate control, a six-speaker stereo, auto-dimming rear view mirror, a reversing camera as well as front and rear parking sensors.

Stepping up to the mid-spec SE from $68,610 gives you the choice of all six (P200, P250, P300 petrol, D150, D180, D240 diesel) engines.

It has all the equipment of the S but with the addition of the ‘Touch Pro Duo’ second multi-function touchscreen controlling all the vehicle functions, ‘premium’ LED headlights with auto-high beam control, 20-inch alloy wheels, 14-way electrically adjustable front seats and a digital dashboard.

The top-spec HSE costs from $90,230, and can be had with only the top two engines (the P300 petrol and D240 diesel). It includes everything from the SE, as well as a more sophisticated “active driveline” all-wheel drive system, capable of sending all of the engine’s torque to any one wheel, powered tailgate, differently-styled 20-inch alloy wheels, upgraded 'Windsor extended leather'  interior trim, 'Atlas bezel' steering wheel (a metal liner), the ‘ClearSight’ interior rear view mirror, 10-speaker premium audio system, and keyless entry.

From there you pick whether you want the sporty R-Dynamic body-kit at a cost of $1680 on any grade and then start ticking boxes on the expansive options list.

Items notably excluded from the standard features list on any grade like an electronically adjustable steering column and DAB+ digital radio are present, but are pricey options. As are bespoke interior trims and 16-way electronically adjustable heated and cooled premium leather seats.

Almost any feature can be had on any grade as an option. If you really want you can have a base S with premium leather seats and huge wheels. There’s something to be said for how customisable the range is, but with so many options it makes ordering a car overwhelming.

The now-expected active safety items are now standard from the S up, but an option any grade should have ticked is the ‘Driver Assist Pack’ (costing between $2840 on the S to $490 on the HSE) which includes the rest of the suite at a reasonable cost.

For a limited time, Land Rover is offering a ‘First Edition’ with either of the mid-spec engines, the D180 and P250 at $91,550 and $91,300 respectively.

They have the lion’s share of options boxes ticked for you and essentially include items like the R-Dynamic and black contrast packs for free. Although at the top-end of the price scale, when you consider the inclusions, they aren’t bad value.

It has to be said that although the Evoque range can be specified to any buyer’s imagination, Land Rover has managed to make an already expensive small SUV even more expensive, placing it in another price league altogether when tallied up against the Audi Q2 (from $41,950), BMW X2 (from $46,900) and Mercedes-Benz GLA (from $44,700).

Engine & trans

Maserati Levante8/10

If you’ve just read the section above on price and features, you’re now probably wondering how much less powerful the Levante is compared to the Levante S.

The Levante has a 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 and it sounds magnificent. Yup, the entry-grade Levante lets loose that Maserati high-pitched scream when you open the throttle, just like the S. It may sound the same as the S but the Levante’s V6 has less horsepower. At 257kW/500Nm, the Levante makes 59kW less in power and 80Nm less in torque.

Is there a noticeable difference? Not much. Acceleration isn’t as rapid in the Levante with 0-100km/h coming in six seconds compared to 5.2 seconds in the Levante S.

Shifting gears is an eight-speed ZF-sorced automatic transmission which is super smooth, but a little slow.


Range Rover Evoque7/10

As previously mentioned, the Evoque has almost too many engine options. There are three petrols and three diesels, ranging from so-so to perhaps overpowered in the case of the P300.

All the engine options are 2.0-litre turbocharged units in different states of tune, and all are mated to a nine-speed torque converter transmission, with all-wheel drive.

Starting with the diesel the entry-level engine offered on most grades is the D150 which offers 110kW/380Nm, you can then step up to the mid-spec D180 which ups those figures to 132kW/430Nm and then to the top-spec D240 which offers 177kW/500Nm.

On the petrol side, things kick off with the P200 at 147kW/320Nm, then there’s the P250 with 183kW/365Nm and, finally, the top-spec P300 which has a rather silly 221kW/400Nm.

The top two engine options also offer a mild hybrid 48V electrical system which is capable of cutting the engine under 17km/h and feeding power back into auxiliary systems, although it is not capable of running the car under its own power. The brand says the system allows for a six per cent reduction in fuel consumption.

To make things more complicated, a three-cylinder mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants are expected to join the line-up some time in 2020.

Fuel consumption

Maserati Levante7/10

Even if you were to drive your Levante conservatively Maserati says you can expect it to use at best 11.6L/100km over a combination of urban and open roads, the Levante S is a bit thirstier at an official 11.8L/100km. 

In reality you can expect the twin-turbo petrol V6 to want more – just open road driving was seeing the trip computer report 12.3L/100km, You can bet that’ll go up in the city and climb higher if you like to keep raising the Levante's beautiful voice.


Range Rover Evoque8/10

The Evoque has reasonable official claimed/combined consumption figures across all its engine options. Diesel engines are more impressive consuming 5.1L/100km for the base D150, 6.8L/100km for the D180 and 6.3L/100km for the D240.

Petrols are not quite as good, with stated figures of 8.1L/100km for the P200 and P250 and 8.2L/100km for the P300.

Every new-generation Evoque has a 65-litre fuel tank.

Driving

Maserati Levante8/10

When I reviewed the Levante S at its launch in 2017 I enjoyed its good handling and comfortable ride. But impressed as I was with performance from the engine I felt the car could be quicker.

So how then would a less powerful version of the same car feel? Not much different, actually. The base grade Levante is only 0.8s slower to 100km/h than the S at six seconds. The air suspension is the same as the S’s and returns a comfortable and compliant ride, and handling with the dampers in the firm setting is impressive for a two tonne, five-metre long vehicle.

Front brakes in the Levante base grade car are smaller (345 x 32mm) than in the S (380 x 34mm) and the tyres aren’t staggered either with 265/50 R19 all around.

The variable-ratio, electrically-assisted power steering is well weighted, but too quick. I found the car turned in too far, too quickly, with regular mid-corner corrections a tiresome necessity.

To me there’s no point going for the S based on the assumption that it’s going to be a much higher performing car. The Levante and Levante S and are both mild in their power delivery and have better dynamics than an average large SUV.

If you are after a true high-performance Maserati SUV then you might be best off waiting for the Levante GTS coming in 2020 with a 404kW V8.

The base grade Levante V6 sounds just as beautiful as the S’s, but there's one place where it isn’t very pleasant. The back seat.

At the launch of the Levante S in 2017 I didn’t have the chance to ride in the rear seats. This time around I let my co-driver steer for half-an-hour while I sat in the left rear position. 

For starters it’s louder back there – the exhaust note is almost too loud to be pleasant. Plus, the seats aren’t supportive or comfortable. 

There’s also a slightly claustrophobic, cave-like feeling in the second row, largely due to the roof's accentuated slope towards the rear. This, to me, rules it out almost completely as something to ferry guests around in comfort.


Range Rover Evoque8/10

This Evoque is better to drive in almost every way compared to its predecessor. It’s smoother, more confident in corners, more composed on rough terrain, and some combination of the new engines and re-calibration of the nine-speed auto has made most of the turbo-lag issues reported on its predecessor a thing of the past.

Unlike many SUVs, the Evoque doesn’t suffer from the feeling of impending understeer, and it’s surprisingly capable when trudging along unsealed roads and even off-road tracks.

Although there’s no mechanical control of a low-range gearbox, Land Rover’s computer-controlled Terrain Response 2 system might surprise you as to how capable it really is, especially on the top two engine variants with their enhanced torque vectoring abilities.

Diesel engines in particular are surprisingly quiet, and while it could be argued that the P300 petrol engine is overpowered for something this size, it was genuinely difficult to get the wheels to lose traction on tarmac.

One criticism I would level at this new Evoque is that in its quest to become the most practical small luxury machine on four wheels, it’s lost something along the way. It’s so big and heavy now it feels as though you’re just driving a cropped down Velar.

That’s all very luxurious, but I’ll miss the nimble, agile feeling that was a large part of what made the first Evoque so endearing.

Safety

Maserati Levante8/10

The Levante is yet to be tested by ANCAP. That said, the Levante has six airbags and is equipped with advanced safety equipment such as AEB, lane keeping assistance and lane departure warning, blind spot warning with steering assistance, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control.

A puncture repair kit is under the boot floor.


Range Rover Evoque8/10

Standard active safety from the base S up includes essential items like auto emergency braking (AEB), lane keep assist (LKAS), and traffic sign recognition.

Higher specs will grant you more, including blind-spot monitoring (BSM), rear cross traffic alert (RCTA), high-speed AEB with active cruise control and auto-parking.

Thankfully there’s the ‘Driver Assist Pack’ which bundles all the active safety items into one reasonably-priced place. It costs between $2840 on the S to just $490 on the HSE and is easily the best value item on the options list.

The Evoque scored a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in time for its launch, which applies to all variants.

There are six airbags and the rear seats benefit from ISOFIX child-seat mounting points on the outboard seats and top-tethers across all three positions.

Ownership

Maserati Levante6/10

The Levante is covered by Maserati’s three year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended at two year or 20,000km intervals. More brands are moving to longer warranties and it would be good to see Maserati offer its buyers longer coverage.


Range Rover Evoque6/10

Land Rover offers a three-year 100,000km warranty which is frustratingly short, though if you believe what BMW has to say on the matter, this won’t bother premium buyers.

Still, with Volkswagen now offering a five-year warranty, the pressure will hopefully mount on premium automakers to start offering a little more in this space.

Land Rover does offer 24 hour roadside assist for the length of the warranty.

The new Evoque has condition-dependent servicing, meaning the car’s on-board computer will notify you when it’s time to have it serviced. This will happen at least once every 12 months.

This car’s predecessor allowed you to add service packs of up to five years at the time of purchase, as well as an optional extended warranty. We’ll seek clarification and pricing on these and update this story when we have confirmation on both.