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2019 Maserati Levante GTS: Refined styling, ludicrous power

The 2019 Maserati Levante GTS is powered by a monstrous 3.8-litre engine that produces up to 550 horsepower and 538 lb.-ft. of torque and can reach a top speed of 282 km/h. This allows you to do the 0-to-100 in roughly 4.2 seconds.
The 2019 Maserati Levante GTS is powered by a monstrous 3.8-litre engine that produces up to 550 horsepower and 538 lb.-ft. of torque and can reach a top speed of 282 km/h. This allows you to do the 0-to-100 in roughly 4.2 seconds. - Sabrina Giacomini

I’ll hand it to FCA's Italian branches — they have a knack for car designs and the 2019 Maserati Levante is yet another gorgeous proof of it. The model introduced in 2017 cuts quite the figure with its gigantic grille ornate with the brand’s elegant trident, its blade-shaped headlamps, and the stylized gills on the fenders. 

It imposes everywhere it goes and I don’t remember the last time people around me were so excited about a press vehicle I drove. All of a sudden, everyone wanted a ride. I must admit that there’s a certain power that comes with the name Maserati, one I didn’t hesitate to wield. Pretty much everyone has heard of the brand and knows about its reputation for luxury, so saying you’re spending your week in one never fails to impress.

When you look at it from afar, the Levante’s proportions look about right for a mid-size SUV. The silhouette is elegant with its elongated nose and rounded sloping roofline, complete with a set of 21-inch wheels that give the vehicle a well-balanced appearance. Then you sit inside and the vehicle seems to become a whole lot bigger. It’s quite an interesting optical illusion. 

Like any Maserati, the Levante is the embodiment of luxury. The cabin is luxurious and rich and the GTS upgrades you to a Pieno Fiore hand-stitched red leather surface, combined with the optional open face carbon accents. You will have to take an extra $3,460 out of your pocket for that option alone. Peanuts if you’re going to spend over $150k on an SUV anyway, right? 

Refined, but slightly plain styling

Like any Maserati, the Levante is the embodiment of luxury. The cabin is luxurious and rich and the GTS upgrades you to a Pieno Fiore handstitched red leather surface, combined with the optional open face carbon accents. - Sabrina Giacomini
Like any Maserati, the Levante is the embodiment of luxury. The cabin is luxurious and rich and the GTS upgrades you to a Pieno Fiore handstitched red leather surface, combined with the optional open face carbon accents. - Sabrina Giacomini

The interior alone is probably worth as much as my yearly salary and for most of my week in the vehicle, I felt unworthy of touching the luxurious surfaces.  While Italians usually have a sense of style, when the time came to design the Levante’s dashboard, the designers probably let the interns do the work and went for coffee instead. The vehicle impresses from all angles, but sitting in the driver’s seat isn’t one of them. Compared say to the Jaguar F-Pace SVR layout which is so striking, the Maserati’s is very plain, to say the least. But boring doesn’t mean inefficient and while there won’t be any interior decor awards won, all the functionalities and technologies are present and easy to access, which is probably more important than a pretty face.

The vehicle is equipped with standard features such as adaptive cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, full infotainment system, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, power controls for front seats and windows, and even an analog clock you can’t read very well because it’s the size of a watch. But nothing screams luxury quite like a tiny clock crowning a dashboard.

Something Maserati isn’t very vocal about is its Highway Assist semi-autonomous system, likely because of the controversy that surrounds autonomous driving. The system combines the work of lane-keeping assist and the adaptive cruise control and uses cameras located in the vehicle’s grille and behind the rearview mirror. It allows the Levante to assist the driver in highway driving situations. However, Maserati reminds you that technology does not replace the driver’s input and isn’t meant to be used without supervision. The Levante will remind you to keep your hands on the steering wheel — even placing my hand at the bottom of the wheel wasn't enough and I got yelled at. 

Ludicrous performance for an SUV

The Maserati Levante GTS has all the makings of an excellent, ultra-luxurious vehicle, from the quality materials to the quality powertrain to the quality price. - Sabrina Giacomini
The Maserati Levante GTS has all the makings of an excellent, ultra-luxurious vehicle, from the quality materials to the quality powertrain to the quality price. - Sabrina Giacomini

Though the Maserati’s mission might be to provide the driver with every possible comforts, the three little letters that follow the Levante nameplate make sure that comfort doesn’t become boring. The Levante GTS is a beast. It’s like premium brands are on a tug of war for the most ludicrous performance SUV they’re able to come up with. Apparently non-content with the performance of a V6 or a V8 turbocharged, Maserati went all-in with a V8 twin-turbo. 

The monstrous 3.8-litre block produces 550 horsepower, 538 lb-ft of torque — a Ferrari engine if you please — and can reach a top speed of 282 km/h. This allows you to do the 0-to-100 in roughly 4.2 seconds—not too shabby for a 2,170kg vehicle. 

Considering how luxe the cabin is, there is bound to be a disconnection from the road. The driver is cocooned in and while the engine purrs and roars willingly, road noise is almost completely inexistent which on the one hand is what most premium SUV clients are looking for but which also decreases the “feeling” of exhilaration that comes with performance. The vehicle is equipped with a selection of driving modes with the usual “Sport” and “Off-Road”—in case you’re feeling extra adventurous with your $155,000 SUV—as well as the mysterious “I.C.E.” mode. I initially thought it was just a clever, non-typical way to say press here to drive on ice and in snow, but no. Apparently, Maserati had something else in mind: Increased Controls and Efficiency. 

Efficiency-what? Does Maserati mean to say the Levante can be… fuel efficient? That’s hard to believe. The GTS is one of—if not THE thirstiest vehicles I’ve ever driven and that list includes a flock of twin-turbo and supercharged Vs, and even a Ford F-150. I honestly haven’t seen an average fuel economy number above 19 in a long time. Granted, I’ve done most of my driving in the city and didn’t shy away from enjoying the full power of the GTS, but 20.4L/100km is monstrous. It is to be expected when you want to make an SUV fun, but ouch! Fun definitely comes at a price. 

The 2019 Maserati Levante GTS has all the makings of an excellent, ultra-luxurious vehicle, from the quality materials to the quality powertrain to the quality price. When you reach this high in the automotive food chain, it’s hard to go wrong. When the price isn’t a limitation, it all boils down to aesthetic preferences and who has the fanciest name for its leather. 

The specs:

Model: 2019 Maserati Levante GTS

Engine: 3.8-litre,twin-turbo V8, 550 horsepower

Transmission: eight-speed automatic, Q4 all-wheel-drive

NRCan rating (Le/100km city/highway): 17.9/12.9

Length: 5,020 mm

Width: 2,158 mm

Wheelbase: 3,004 mm

Weight: 2,170 kg

Price: $93,000 base, $155,540 as tested, including freight

Competition: Mercedes-AMG GLE 63S, BMW X5 M, Jaguar F-Pace SVR, Porsche Cayenne Turbo 

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