Robb Review: Maserati Levante GT
Driving the revered Italian marque’s hybrid SUV.
It still seems incongruous. The historic Italian marques are entering the world of fuel economy and sustainability through full-electric and hybrid vehicles despite a long lineage of racing to win with petrol drinking motors.
However, this is it. It’s a brave new world. One in which even the likes of Maserati has entered the hybrid market in its own, very Italian way, with the hybridisation of the Ghibli GT, swiftly followed by the Levante GT — the marque’s hybrid SUV.
Driving down to the Southern Highlands from Sydney in the 2090kg Levante GT proved a comfortable experience, leaving the trafficked roads of inner-Sydney behind with ease with thanks to the car’s clever suspension system — a double-wishbone, anti-roll bar system at the front and a multi-link, anti-roll bar system at the rear — that navigated the potholed streets with a deft touch.
It’s here that the 48-volt hybrid system is most at use. The ‘mild-hybrid’ system, which first appeared in the Maserati Ghibli GT, pulls energy from the car’s braking system and stores it in a battery. As such the Levante is capable of an alleged fuel economy of 7.5l/100km mixed driving — although the alignment of an Italian nameplate and discussions of fuel economy are fresh, but bear with me.
Upon rolling onto the highway, the 243kW, 2.0-litre 4-cylinder (no, it’s not blasphemous to have a 4-cylinder Maserati) with 450Nm of torque received a stern push from the right foot. While the 6.0 second, 0-100km/h sprint time is plenty for a car with the storage capacity (580 litres) of the Levante — those accustomed to the usual grunt of a Maserati may be left wanting.
Beyond the straight-line speeds of the highway, the rolling hills of the Southern Highlands presented the opportunity to test the braking and handling capabilities of the SUV. And while the hybrid may not have the impact expected from a sports car, the steering system and ‘fun’ factor of the Levante exceeded expectations. The SUV proving not only capable but sporty with thanks not only to the aforementioned suspension but the large 345x32mm 2-piston brake callipers on the front and 330x22mm 1-piston floating callipers on the back.
It proves Levante as something of a multi-tool, a jack of all trades, a two-faced vehicle that attempts to ride the line of performance with reduced consumption.
After putting the Levante GT through its paces, the convoy stopped at Berrima Vault House, a favoured southern highlands destination of Robb Report, and one where we opted to have our very own Car Of The Year pit-stop.
Berrima Vault House is a recent opening and reimaging that’s beautifully transformed the former Taylor’s Crown Inn (built in 1844 by convict labour) into an alluring 5-star hospitality venue and private member’s club.
It’s here we indulged in lunch, curated by head chef Tommy Posser and viewed a custom sculpture designed by Southern Highlands local (via New York) Thomas Bucich. The sculpture, which presents as an interpretation of the Maserati trident, is formed of plasma cut steel and silver-leafed by hand. It will be travelling to Maserati dealerships around Australia.
Outside Berrima Vault House’s historic building, drivers got the opportunity to inspect the Levante GT in greater detail. Here, the leaner and greener SUV sees new icons of the marque’s electrification through the blue cobalt air intakes, brake callipers and logo on the rear pillar paired with metallic Grigio Maratea paint. The finer details are met with the open-face grill and the Maserati badge firmly planted in the centre creating an unmistakable design.
Within the cabin, one is met sumptuous levels of Italian luxury with swathes of red leather, 12-way power front seats with driver seat memories and heating. Add-ons in the driven model include the Alcantara headlining, Trident stitched on the headrest, premium leather interior, ‘Maserati’ stainless steel doorsills and electric panorama sunroof to name a few.
In a move that is uncomplicated and not very Italian, the 8.4-inch touchscreen that forms much of the controls within the cockpit is intuitive to use, connects to one’s phone with little fuss and operates as expected with either Apple or Android-powered phones.
The Maserati Levante GT is something of a swiss army knife among the marque’s models. It’s spacious, sustainable, and focused on the future. It’s also one of Maserati’s most accessible models with a starting price of $126,990 excluding on-road costs.
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