RAC Cars News


Maserati Goes Off Road With The Levante

By raccars Published

As part of the Italian company's plan to increase its market share by tenfold over the next few years, it is expanding its model range to include not only the new Ghibli and Quattroporte models, but also the first SUV from the sports car specialist.

Taking cues from the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X6, the much awaited Levante is due to launch in the UK in 2015, based on 2011's Kubang concept SUV. However, styling details for the Levante will be all new, complementing strongly on road performance and a spacious, five seater cabin.

The range of Maserati engines starts with a 271bhp 3.0 litre V6 diesel turbo, which is expected to be the biggest seller in Europe, topped by a 410bhp 3.0 litre V6 petrol with twin turbos and the massive 530bhp 3.8 litre twin turbo V8. These will power all four wheels via a Ghibli and Quattroporte adapted Q4 system and an eight speed automatic gearbox.

As a subsidiary of Fiat, Maserati will be adapting various elements from its sister company Chrysler's luxury 4x4 expertise. While Maserati can provide the sophisticated driving experience, the Italian brand will be looking to Jeep's rugged off-roading abilities to round out the Levante's skill set.

Its chassis will be based upon that fitted to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with components from Chrysler and Jeep, in addition to Maserati's Ghibli and Quattroporte models - aluminium is expected to be a key material in the construction. The car's front end features an exaggerated interpretation of Maserati's current design language, with the characteristic front grill, smooth, upswept LED headlights and sensuously curved tail lights

Maserati is emphasising both the Levante's sportiness – hence the Ghibli and Quattroporte sourced engines - and its luxury appointments, showing that although the SUV is a new string to its bow, the company is still grounded in its core values as a premium sports car maker. The initial plan was to utilise Chrysler's manufacturing capacity to build the Levante in Detroit, but the current success of the Jeep brand has left no room for the new vehicle. As a result, Maserati is likely to seek out a new European plant as the equipment at its Ghibli and Quattroporte producing Grugliasco site is incompatible with the larger form of the new car. Maserati is expecting sales figures of 10,000-15,000 units annually.

Expect the Levante to make its public debut at next year's Geneva Motor Show.

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