the luxury of an SUV that gives sporty vertigo-

The roads around Livigno, in the province of Sondrio, have been beats in recent months by test drivers behind the wheel of prototypes which, due to an epidemic, cannot reach the usual proving ground winter hidden in the most remote regions of Sweden. Not surprisingly: this strip of Alta Valtellina holds the record as the coldest town in Italy. here Maserati, in the mood for challenges that are no less climatic than industrial, brought the press for the test drive of the Levante 2021: a program of real, demanding tests, which highlighted the character and potential of the ultra-luxurious Modenese SUV.

The test starts from Bormio, behind the wheel of the smallest (so to speak) variant of the range, the V6 Gransport 3.0: 430 horsepower, 109,803 euros. The supercharged six-cylinder engine with direct petrol injection certainly has no numbers entry level: there is enough meat to have fun. Sport utility? Sure. The label shared with an infinite array of models, large and small. Stand out hard. But the Levante makes it. Maserati doc line, with some refreshed details, but always with strong shoulders, to give the visual impression (which is reflected in reality) of a car well placed on the ground and with a well-maintained granite.

The grille is new: chromed for the GranLusso version, in Piano Black for the GranSport. On the rear you can see the boomerang-shaped headlights: a classic of the Trident style. Inside, the enveloping triumph of luxury and electronic functionality (but without overdoing it) that descends from the firm elegance of the brand. New central screen, which goes from 8.4 inches, with an aspect ratio of 4: 3, to 10.1 inches, with an aspect ratio of 16:10. The look frameless (without frame) modern and very pleasant. This is a high-resolution, multi-touch display, clearly visible and usable.

Key start, with the remote control in your pocket: the temperature warning is triggered immediately, with the display showing – 11 C. No problem: heated seat and steering wheel immediately give you well-being and the automatic climate does the rest. You feel center stage, all around the driver and well organized. On the first climbs on clean asphalt that lead to the Forcola pass the engaging engine sound becomes even more sensual once the sport button is pressed. The body is well held by the seat, while the right foot presses the accelerator and the tachometer flies towards the … red area. The gearbox rattles off the gears lightning fast: automatic or manual with carbon paddles a real pleasure.

Maserati Levante: the luxury of an suv that d

Between the curves the Levante feels light, in spite of the over two thousand kilos of mass. Sport utility? Of course, but with a reactivity and precision at the best of the sporting declination. The solid set-up: the car attached to the asphalt thanks to the pneumatic springs and active shock absorbers. To assist you there is not a simple ESP, there is much more: a system that works in synergy with the four-wheel drive system. An invisible aid to correct when needed, but without stopping the car in a curve. Satisfying, easy and safe even when the asphalt loses grip and the snow of recent days has stratified into a hard and slippery crust.

Winter tires are indispensable, but the machine system that works: the four-wheel drive is automatically engaged at the start and then, if there is grip, it is released, releasing the torque only on the rear axle. An oil-bath clutch that is always ready and responsive to transfer torque to the front axle, if needed. The kilometers slide quickly and on the Forcola pass it’s time to do a upgrade, leave the Gransport V6 for the V8 GTS: 530 horsepower 3.8 petrol V8 Turbo engine; 142,326 euros.

Maserati Levante: the luxury of an suv that d

The music changes right from the start: The thruster pulses with a more hoarse tone. The push down is much stronger: it picks up speed in an instant. The set-up and electronic adjustments are confirmed as a guarantee, along the road that deteriorates in the conditions of the bottom: from the Forcola pass to Livigno in the morning everything remains in shadow and the ice lurks, but the Levante does not break down. And if there was the possibility of lengthening, we could check whether the GTS reach the 291 km / h declared by the manufacturer (as if the 264, always declared, of the Lavante S were few). In acceleration from 0 to 100 per hour, thanks to the 100 more horsepower and only 70 kg more mass, the car takes a time of 4.3 seconds, unapproachable for the Levante S, which stops (it always stops to say) to 5.1.

Meanwhile we have arrived in Livigno. The great news of Levante 2021 awaits us on the Ghiacciodromo: the Trofeo variant, which costs 163,745 euros. A family designation is back, but with a new engine and specific details, such as the three side air intakes edged in red and the tricolor in the trident on the sides. For MY 2021 the Trofeo confirms the turbo on the V8 of the GTS, revised and perfected to reach a power of 580 hp, but without increasing the weight compared to the GTS, so the already considerable acceleration figure drops further: from 0 to 100 in 4.1 seconds, and it could stretch up to break through 300 km / h (the declared peak of 302). But here there is no German motorway to check … We have to adapt judiciously to the Livigno track: just over a kilometer of white, made of ice and dusted with snow. The only aids are the thermal tires, the four-wheel drive system and the electronics.

Maserati Levante: the luxury of an suv that d

It starts in Normal, then moves on to Sport. The car can be controlled, but not completely unleashed. In Race the music changes: off the stability control, the ground clearance decreases and you get the maximum feeling from the steering and gas. The car is driven with the accelerator, when it understeers almost a game, working with the engine to start the tail and put it back on the line. The Levante is managed, but always ready to bite. If you make a mistake, at the touch of the brake, the driving dynamics aid system returns. The IVC (Integrated Vehicle Control) system developed in collaboration with Bosch prevents – rather than just corrects – those errors that lead to the loss of control of the car. The IVC is a type control system feed-forward which adjusts the braking system and the engine in advance. The system intervenes more smoothly and quietly than the traditional Electronic Stability Program (ESP), ensuring driveability and better traction in extreme dynamic conditions even when ESP is deactivated.

Everything becomes beautiful on the ice: you go to M, second inserted. The steering wheel turns to keep the tail in place. You need a little hand, of course, some advice from a driving instructor and a little self-control. Self-control not with the accelerator, but with oneself, to stop at a certain point. Because the Levante Trofeo 2021 is also generous with emotions and satisfactions. The acute of the range. But there are less dizzying levels, albeit always high: see the Levante V6 petrol 350 horsepower (from 98,000 euros) and the turbodiesel (from 93,000).

February 19, 2021 (change February 19, 2021 | 15:25)


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