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Driven: Petrol Maserati Levante S touches down

Six-pot screamer: Maserati’s Levante S is excepted to be the less popular drivetrain of the two offered in the range.

Maserati brings Levante S with 316kW Ferrari-built V6 Down Under from $169k BOC

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Maserati logo8 Dec 2017

By ROBBIE WALLIS

MASERATI Australia’s new petrol-powered Levante S will only contribute around 10 per cent of overall sales of the large SUV range, despite being the more powerful of the two powertrain options, according to the brand’s local boss.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the Levante S in Bathurst, Maserati Australia chief operating officer Glen Sealey said that the popularity of diesel powertrains in the large SUV segment would likely skew Levante sales in favour of the oil-burner.

“If I look at it on the surface we can see that diesel is still the predominant drivetrain in the segment,” he said.

“That said, if I look at Maserati, I see that petrol is still the predominant drivetrain within the segment across the board, because we do offer diesel in Ghibli and Quattroporte.

“If I was a stats person I would say 10 per cent of our Levante sales will be S, but if I put my Maserati hat on, it’s going to be 20-25 per cent.”

With one month left in 2017 Maserati has sold 406 examples of the Levante, a number that is expected to climb in 2018 with the addition of the S and an uninterrupted year of turbo-diesel sales.

The Levante S will start with an asking price of $169,990, representing a $30,000 premium over the equivalent oil-burner, and tops out at $179,990.

Matching the turbo-diesel Levante range, the S will be offered with three variants consisting of the regular Levante S, as well as GranLusso and GranSport trim levels which add a $10,000 premium over the S.

Mr Sealey expects the GranSport to be the most popular petrol variant followed by the GranLusso, mimicking the popularity within the turbo-diesel range.

The 316kW/580Nm Ferrari-built twin-turbo V6 under the bonnet of the Levante S boosts power over the turbo-diesel by 114kW, while only sacrificing 20Nm of torque.

Able to complete the zero to 100km/h sprint in 5.2 seconds on to a top speed of 264km/h, the Levante S sips a claimed 10.9 litres of fuel per 100km while emitting 253 grams of CO2 per km.

All Levante variants are teamed to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, with power sent to all four wheels via Maserati’s Q4 intelligent all-wheel-drive system.

The all-paw system is designed to offer a rear-biased driving experience, and can alter its front/rear torque split from 50:50 to 0:100 per cent as needed.

It is also the only model in its class to be equipped as standard with a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear axle, which can offer as much as 25 per cent lock-up under power and 35 per cent when released.

Weight distribution is even at 50:50 front/rear, while torque vectoring helps further enhance handling.

Maserati also claims that the Levante is the best in its class for its low centre of gravity, as well as its drag coefficient of 0.31.

The Levante’s pneumatic air suspension system allows for six different height levels, with a range of 75mm from lowest to highest, up to 85mm including the park level.

In order to accommodate a new suite of driver assistance systems, Maserati has equipped the Levante range with a new electric steering system, which it says offers lighter steering feedback at low speeds and a heavier feel at speed.

Four different drive modes are available, including Normal, Sport, Off-road and ICE mode (increased control and efficiency), with Off-road mode a first for a Maserati vehicle.

Stopping power comes courtesy of Brembo six-piston front callipers with 380mm drilled discs, while 42mm floating callipers with 330mm ventilated drilled discs are standard at the rear. Customers can choose up to five colours for the callipers, with adonised grey as standard.

Twenty-inch hoops are standard on the Levante S and S GranLusso, while the S GranSport steps it up to 21 inches.

Inside, the Levante S gains an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system with DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Andriod Auto, eight-speaker sound system, leather upholstery, 12-way adjustable heated front seats with memory function, analogue clock embedded in the dash, dual-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, velour floor carpets, 60/40 split-fold rear seats and paddle shifters.

Luggage space is rated at 590 litres, with the boot accessed by the hands-free power opening tailgate.

With a large range of trims and options, customers can customise the interior of their Levante, while Maserati has put together two option packs, the sports-focused GranSport and luxury-oriented GranLusso.

Standard equipment on the GranSport includes front grille and skid plates in piano black trim, body-coloured rear sport spoiler, steel door sills, sports seats and steering wheel, colour matched lower body, red brake callipers, brushed steel sport pedals and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

The GranLusso buyers are rewarded with a chrome front grille, steel door and trunk sills, premium leather, black brake callipers, Harman Kardon sound system, wood interior trim, and Zenga silk interior trim on the seats, door panels, roof lining, sunshades and ceiling light fixture.

Standard safety equipment across the range includes six airbags, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind spot warning, lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, hill descent control, electronic parking brake, tyre pressure monitor and surround-view camera.

As mentioned, the new active safety measures were implemented as a result of the fresh electric steering system, a new feature on 2018 Levante models.

2017 Maserati Levante pricing*
Turbo Diesel (a)$139,990
GranSport Turbo Diesel (a)$159,990
GranLusso Turbo Diesel (a)$159,990
S (a)$169,990
S GranSport (a)$179,990
S GranLusso (a)$179,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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