Given that it wears the same badge as Juan Manuel Fangio’s 250F Formula 1 car, the Levante is an SUV from which it seems reasonable to expect a bit of briskness.

Particularly so because all of its key rivals provide a convincing sense of muscular V6 shove – and it’s surely for the Levante to go one better than most.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Understeer that appears isn’t surprising; the lack of obvious help from the rear axle is, though. The Levante’s unsportiness starts here

Given the 6.8sec 0-60mph time we recorded, the Levante’s performance seems worthy enough in isolation – but when you check what an equivalent BMW X5, Range Rover Sport or Porsche Cayenne will do, it’s nothing special.

But the biggest problem here is that the Levante will only achieve this kind of pace when put under unseemly duress – when launching against the brakes and held stationary at almost full power. 

Move away from rest in a slightly more dignified fashion (as every driver will) and you can expect the standard sprint to 60mph to take at least a second or two longer.

That may sound like a trifling concern, but it’s indicative of a wider one. When accelerating from any prevailing speed, the Levante won’t brush off its mass and pick up the pace with the sort of authority that has become a familiar, effortless feature of its rivals and really befits a luxury sporting car.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

It’s because the single-turbo diesel engine is operating at a sizeable disadvantage on peak torque – worth as much as 70lb ft in some cases – compared with plenty of the cars against which it must be measured. And the result, not dissimilar to our experience of the Ghibli, is a more ponderous SUV than we might have expected to find wearing a Maserati badge.

Driving the Levante is also not the most refined or cultured of experiences. The most memorable big oil-burners present a deep, sonorous background level of ambient noise, rising and falling in conjunction with the accelerator pedal.

The Levante conveys this only sporadically, being unable to generate a proper hum without a noticeable undertone of clatter and rumble, and nor can it sufficiently deaden the sound of its engine on a motorway so as to be called hushed.

The Levante S is a different kettle of fish, with the sonorous twin-turbo V6 petrol is better suited to the Maserati badge. The engine is sharp and reponsive and revs more freely than its oilburning alternative, which makes it a better fit than the diesel engine.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week