Pushing the 2018 Maserati Levante in the UAE desert

 

Luxury SUVs are a reasonably recent category, but several manufacturers have high expectations for this segment. The blend of comfort and performance has made the SUVs one of the best performing categories for several luxury automotive brands. The transition from traditional luxury to SUVs cars has been faster for certain manufacturers than for others. However, when a brand with racing heritage and a centennial tradition of making beautiful cars makes an SUV, you know that the end product is going to be a success.

“The Levante name was inspired by a warm, Mediterranean wind that can change from mild to gale force in an instant, mirroring the character of the first Maserati SUV. It enables the Trident to access the largest luxury segment in the world and contributes to creating of a complete product line-up in Maserati’s history,” explains the brand in a statement.

The Maserati Levante was a bold move made in 2016 by the Italian manufacturer. A bet that has paid off since the Levante accounts for a considerable part of the company’s total sales today. The Levante has attracted a lot of new customers for the brand; with 90 percent of Levante customers being first time Maserati clients.

“Maserati is renowned for exotic sports cars, so our mission was not just to build an SUV, but to build a Maserati”

“This is the first ever SUV by Maserati, so it is a complete game-changer, particularly for the UAE. Maserati is renowned for exotic sports cars, so our mission was not just to build an SUV, but to build a Maserati. Exciting times are ahead, and we are glad to be able to offer Maserati aficionados a completely new experience,” said Hossam Hosni, General Manager Luxury Auto at Al Tayer Motors, when the Levante was first launched in the UAE.

Presented in 2016 the Levante is a true Maserati, the brand did not compromise and even if it does not look like your average Ghibli or Quattroporte; the Levante sounds exactly like its sedan and coupé counterparts. The Levante is based on the evolution of the sedan platform, designed exclusively by Maserati. The car chassis has been specifically developed to offer unique on-road drivability and competitive off-road capability, with day-to-day comfort and practicality.

Powered by a Ferrari-created petrol engine, the 2018 Levante features several new design elements. It comes in two versions, the GranLusso and the GranSport. The GranLusso embodies the luxurious and stylish character of the Modena-based factory while the GranSport is a more aggressive and racing-inspired vehicle.

The design of the 2018 Levante has been changed a bit compared to the last year models, but the more significant changes are from the engineering department. The steering is now electronic, while it was hydraulic before; it gives more torque to the steering when driving at low speeds. The new driver-assistance system offers exciting features such as traffic signs recognition, blind spot detection, and highway assist; a feature that puts the car back into your lane if it feels that the car is straying from its path. It also boasts active cruise control as well as essential autonomous driving features.

“The Maserati of SUVs was engineered to excite the sport-focused drivers by making extensive use of lightweight materials, as well as boasting an ideal 50:50 weight distribution and the segment’s lowest centre of gravity”

“The Maserati of SUVs was engineered to excite the sport-focused drivers by making extensive use of lightweight materials, as well as boasting an ideal 50:50 weight distribution and the segment’s lowest centre of gravity. These features delivered unparalleled agility in the high-end SUV class as well as remarkable comfort on rough roads and great handling on low-grip surfaces,” explains the brand in a statement.

The Levante proudly boasts a unique Zegna trim option, with silk inserts on the seats, and high-quality leather stitched tightly across the dashboard. The interior has been created with the finest materials made in Trivero by the Zegna wool mill using a patented process. Maserati is also offering a completely bespoke service where customers can choose from hundreds of Zegna fabrics and combinations to create their own unique Levante interior.

The entertainment system of the Levante has been upgraded and is compatible with the latest technology such as Carplay and Android Auto. You can plug your phone into the system or just connect it via Bluetooth and enjoy all of its features from calls to music and messages.

While technical features and specs are important when it comes to a car, we at Signé think that luxury vehicles are emotional purchases and that the decision is made while driving. Test drives can be a bit boring whether it is on the road or on a race track you are usually discovering the car in a setting where it should be at its best. Sports cars will perform brilliantly on tracks while sedans will be as comfortable as ever on the road.

To discover the 2018 Levante, Maserati invited us to Ras Al Khaimah for one of the most unexpected test drives ever. We were to drive the Levante off-road. At first glance, the Maserati of SUVs looks like it could hold its own on gravel but it seems like it could be struggling on dunes. We attended a full product presentation in the evening followed by a Q&A session with the Maserati and an exquisite dinner at the Farmhouse in Al Wadi Desert resort.

The next morning, following a briefing and a breakdown of our itinerary we took the road towards our destination, the desert. The route was divided into three parts that could be identified by the type of roads we would drive on; asphalt, gravel, and sand. During the briefing, we were told about the different driving modes the Levante offers, from eco to sport and obviously off-road. The car could automatically raise or lower itself over 3 inches depending on the speed and type of terrain.

“The plush interiors made sure you were seated in the cradle of luxury while the Levante effortlessly tackled the terrain outside”

After deflating our tires, we headed to the desert to experience the Levante’s off-road capabilities first hand, and it did not disappoint. The plush interiors made sure you were seated in the cradle of luxury while the Levante effortlessly tackled the terrain outside. Whether it was flat terrain or high sand dunes, the car delivered. As long as you keep your foot on the gas pedal, you could go anywhere. Momentum is critical when driving off-road and you would think that the 50:50 weight distributions would be an obstacle to a comfortable off-road experience, well we could not be more wrong. Once our off-road experience was done, we took the not-too-adventurous highway back to the hotel.

The 2018 Levante is a beautiful car, inside and out; it has power, style, class and is full of pleasant surprises. Being able to take this car off-road is a rare treat simply because even if you owned one, you would not think of taking it this far off the beaten path.