Maserati has taken a giant leap forward in developing, and now offering, a new hybrid SUV. They actually call it a Grand Tourer (GT), but this car is anything but a GT – it’s really a full sized SUV. And while most luxury carmakers are scrambling to get on the Electric Vehicle (EV) bandwagon, Maserati doesn’t yet have a fully electric car. That’s where the new Levante comes in. The Levante SUV is a stopgap that fills the area between petrol and an EV. Don’t worry – Maserati’s fully electric car will probably be here very soon.
The new Levante Hybrid is a departure from Maserati’s usual line up and it is an SUV, not a sedan or as we pointed out, a true GT. The Levante has an updated sleek look, and the powertrain comes from the recently unveiled Maserati Ghibli Hybrid sedan. The engine for the Levante is from Alfa Romeo and is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine combined with a 48V mild-hybrid system for 330bhp and 332lb ft of torque. The SUV has a top speed of 245 km/h.
The Levante doesn’t have an electric motor, just a battery module, with the hybrid system consisting of an “eBooster,” which fills in for the turbocharger at low revs and a starter/generator that replaces the typical separate starter and alternator found on most internal combustion engines. The combined starter and generator are becoming more and more popular for hybrid vehicles as it is very efficient.
Maserati reveals that the four-cylinder is 24 kg lighter than its V6 petrol engine, but that the mild-hybrid assist means it offers the same feel and performance as a six-cylinder internal combustion engine. The Levante Hybrid combines the 4 cylinders, 2-liter engine with its 48 volt Hybrid system to recover energy during deceleration and braking. “Faster. Greener. Unique,” are the buzz words that Maserati is using to describe the Levante Hybrid. It’s faster than a diesel, more sustainable than diesel or gasoline, and unique in its specific characteristics.
However, unlike its sister hybrid, the Maserati Ghibli, the Levante has a four-wheel powertrain. The car allows you to adjust the drive parameters and if you wish 100 percent of the torque can be sent to the rear wheels, with 50 per cent available up front when needed. This SUV is fast and will make the 0-100-km/h dash in about 6.0 seconds flat, which is astonishing for an SUV of this size. Maserati also reports that, thanks to the hybrid system, there is a 20 per cent drop in emissions when compared to its V6 engine. Because the Levante SUV is a hybrid, it has even better weight distribution than its petrol siblings since the battery is placed in the rear, without compromising the load capacity, and optimally balances the mass of the vehicle. This helps give the Levante Hybrid better traction and makes it even more agile and fun to drive.
Maserati would also like its customers to know that the Levante Hybrid doesn’t have any form of artificial sound enhancement, unlike other vehicles, that add tubes and ports to create the acoustic illusion of power. The car still does sound like a Maserati with that deep, throaty sound.
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In terms of appearance, the Levante Hybrid is characterized by a new metallic tri-coat colour called Azzurro Astro, available as part of the Brand’s customization program. Other exterior and interior details contribute to this car’s immediately recognizable design: Some are in blue, the shade chosen to identify hybrid cars, already used by Maserati on Ghibli Hybrid. On the exterior, blue characterizes the three iconic side air ducts, the brake calipers, and the C-pillar logo.
The interior of the Levante is conventional and hasn’t become ultra modern. The center mounted LCD display is on the smallish side. However, there are acres of red leather to adorn the seats, dash, and door cards. The dash uses conventional, analog gages for speed and tachometer with an LCD window between. A small analogue coach clock is installed on the top-middle of the dash. Most functions can be set, programed, or accessed from buttons on the steering wheel, which helps prevent drivers from taking their eyes off the road. Overall, the interior is spacious, even cavernous and has plenty of headroom.
Another surprising feature that had us perplexed was the auto stop/start feature. You know, that annoying system that switches the car off when stopped too long at a traffic light. We searched for the switch, but it was nowhere to be found. It was only after cycling through all the options in the display menu that we found the software to turn this feature off, which was a bit odd.
Like most luxury automobiles today, the car comes with a voice activated assistant. Just say, “Hey, Maserati,” and it comes to your aid for various functions like changing radio stations, navigation, etc. However, we found the assistant to be frustrating at times because it couldn’t understand our requests.
However, the suspension in this SUV is fantastic. It irons out road bumps like a hot knife through butter. The suspension is also adjustable and can be raised or lowered. The car even has an “off road” setting, which again separates it from a true GT. In conclusion, it’s an amazing SUV. It rides like a dream, is incredibly spacious, and has a real road presence. And, if you’re not won over by the distant drum of EV adoption, this swanky, good looking, and efficient SUV might just be your ticket.