To give credit where it’s due, the Levante plainly isn’t just another big 4x4 – and you can tell as much before you’ve even got near the driver’s seat.

Having accepted that so much of its potential global market would prefer its automotive luxury delivered by an SUV, Maserati has evidently been at pains to make the most sporting example it can. And so it quotes the best coefficient of drag and the lowest centre of gravity of any car of its kind.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The Levante’s platform is a further development of the steel Ghibli’s monocoque, although aluminium features in the bodywork and the front subframe

The Levante’s body, chassis and suspension are rich in aluminium, and the claimed kerb weight of the example we tested was 2205kg – a respectable but not outstanding figure for a first attempt at such a car.

The Levante’s platform is shared with the Quattroporte and Ghibli saloons and is therefore more closely related to the one found under a Chrysler 300C than anything currently used by Jeep. And there’s no shortage of sophisticated suspension and drivetrain components thrown in here.

As standard, the Levante gives you height-adjustable air suspension, which is fitted with ‘Skyhook’ adaptive dampers, as well as an eight-speed automatic gearbox, full-time four-wheel drive with electronic torque vectoring, and a mechanical limited-slip differential between the rear wheels.

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The car is offered with a choice of turbocharged V6 petrol and diesel engines. The Levante Diesel uses the same 271bhp, 443lb ft VM Motori 3.0-litre V6 that is used to power the Ghibli and Quattroporte, while the Levante S gets a twin-turbocharged, 3.0-litre petrol punching out 424bhp and capable of propelling the big SUV to 62mph in 5.2sec and onto to 164mph.

It gives the SUV on-paper competitiveness against other large, sporty SUVs on  CO2 emissions, 0-62mph acceleration and outright speed fronts, although its claimed figures don’t appear to mark it out as anything outstanding.

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