Drive New from Maserati: the first made-in-Italy luxury SUV. Add a Zegna- designed interior, and it’s right up our street.
By Lawrence Ulrich
once largely dismissed by the refined as barbarian
vehicles to be resisted at all costs, SUVs are now rolling
through the gates of many a luxury residence. At the Castle
of Tabiano, an 11th-century stronghold in Emilia-Romagna,
I too was forced to admit that SUV times have changed.
It was there that I bowed to the Levante, the first SUV
in Maserati’s 102-year history. The Levante joins an
unexpected army of crossover SUVs that includes models
from Jaguar and Bentley, with Lamborghini and Aston
Martin to come. Don’t be fooled by the plush interior,
optionally hand-lined in Ermenegildo Zegna silk. This
handsome Italian will happily get its boots dirty, with five
dynamic ride levels plus an additional park position that
helped me conquer a series of rocky, muddy slopes. I could
hear the Levante’s special inheritance: a Ferrari-based
t win-turbo V- 6, whose passionate tenor seemed straight
out of La Scala. Most owners will prefer on-road pursuits,
and the Levante obliges with zesty, engaging performance.
In fact, a heavily rear-biased all-wheel drive system,
50/50 weight distribution and a smartly tuned air suspension help this 4,600-pound machine deliver a fine imitation
of a sport sedan. On a winding ascent of the Parma-Poggio
di Berceto, where carmakers including Maserati and
Ferrari duked it out on a famous annual hill-climb race
bet ween 1913 and 1955, I realized that while styles may
change, true automotive eminence endures.
A 3.0-litre twin-turbo V- 6, with up to
424 horsepower, hustles the Levante
to 60 mph in as little as 5. 8 seconds.
Ermenegildo Zegna’s natural mulberry
silk, with a hand-stitched micro-chevron
pattern, is set into the leather seats.
Gorgeous, tactile metal steering-
wheel paddle shifters keep the 8-speed
ZF automatic transmission on boil.
Along with the Levante,
the sporty Ghibli and
sedan complete a trio of
Maseratis with bespoke
Zegna interiors. The
alliance goes off-road
too, with a capsule
collection of leather-
wear and accessories.