2019 Maserati Levante GTS first drive assessment: Magnificence and a beast

Italian vehicles are recognized for 4 issues: magnificence, velocity, noise, and a particular really feel. Fail on any of those and the automobile feels genuine like ravioli from a can.

Maserati’s Levante is the Italian automaker’s first crossover SUV. It’s stunning, however base fashions weren’t quick, didn’t sound good, and hardly felt particular. Mamma mia.

For 2019, Maserati stuffed a twin-turbo V-Eight below the Levante’s hood to create the GTS mannequin. Sooner? Sure. Louder? Positive. Particular? We’ll get to that.

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

Simply have a look at me

The usual Levante’s stunning to the purpose of individuals staring, however the GTS takes these natural shapes and provides simply sufficient aptitude to snap necks. Huge intakes sit beneath the gaping grille whereas $2,200 optionally available 21-inch Helios staggered wheels crammed the wells of my tester. The robust rear haunches make the Porsche Cayenne look delicate and flabby as compared. The Levante is achingly beautiful, and one in every of best-looking SUVs available on the market.

Open the door and there’s a click on from the door latch mechanism that sounds straight out of a Ferrari. Similar to a Prancing Horse, every thing inside is roofed in leather-based (shiny crimson in my tester), soft-touch supplies, and actual carbon fiber trim (for a price of $2,490), besides what isn’t.

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

Spend a couple of minutes within the cabin and that particular feeling fades. The flip sign stalk within the Levante is out of a Chrysler Pacifica minivan, and the window switches within the Maserati are in almost each different FCA product together with a Dodge Journey—avoid wasting chrome trim. These bits are advantageous in a $30,000 crossover and $40,000 minivan, however really feel hole and low-cost in a luxurious SUV that prices $100,000 greater than these pedestrian household haulers.

FCA’s easy-to-use Uconnect Eight.Four-inch touchscreen system sits entrance and middle on the dashboard identical to in a Jeep Grand Cherokee, solely the 2 rotary knobs to regulate the quantity and tune have been moved to a stacked configuration on the middle console behind the shifter. It’s awkward to vary the radio quantity, and the bigger ring doesn’t management the tune, moderately, it strikes the selector across the display screen for no actual purpose because it’s a touchscreen.

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

The Ferrari of SUVs

I pushed the beginning button straight out of a Dodge Challenger and forgot these low-cost components bin switches because the Ferrari-built, twin-turbocharged three.Eight-liter V-Eight fired to life its 550 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque with a low, muted burble. If solely it may very well be began with the exhaust baffles open to wake the any respiratory creature inside earshot.

Simply earlier than daylight broke I tipped the Eight-speed automated transmission into drive and pointed the high-riding Italian crossover towards the bottom one in every of California’s finest driver’s roads, Angeles Crest Freeway. Simply forward of the massive grille-mounted Trident was a Velocity Blue Ford Mustang with the Efficiency Bundle Stage 1.

In regular Drive mode the Levante GTS saved tempo with the blue Mustang, but it surely had extra in it. I pushed the Sport mode button and the exhaust belted an Italian scream by the darkish, chilly air because the digital baffles opened, the pedal map turned extra delicate, transmission shifts quickened, dampers have been put into consolation mode (an odd, however moderately good, selection), and the ESC calibration loosened the reins a bit.

The adjustments not solely allowed the Levante GTS to maintain up with the blue sports activities automobile forward of it, but additionally abruptly the Italian crossover SUV was on the horse’s bumper. I backed off, out of courtesy.

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

After a cease for pictures above the clouds, I pulled the Nero Ribelle (that’s fancy Italian for metallic black) out in entrance of the blue Mustang and put the suspension into its Sport mode. This lowered the journey peak 20mm to Aero 1 mode and activated the agency damping map for the energetic damper.

With the gear selector in guide mode I grabbed the steering-column mounted large carbon-fiber coated shift paddles because the Italian launched ahead viciously.

“This will’t really be a crossover SUV” is all that saved going by my thoughts time and again. I flicked by the gears on a protracted, straight stretch of open asphalt earlier than I engaged the large six-piston calipers on 15-inch rotors up entrance (and 13-inchers within the rear) to haul issues again to actuality earlier than the subsequent flip.

Irrespective of how laborious Levante GTS’s was pushed the rear finish caught to the pavement like Gorilla Glue because the This fall all-wheel-drive system distributed energy and the Pirelli P Zeros dug into the pavement to drag the high-riding hatchback round every nook.

The well-weighted steering is an ideal companion round city and on the twisty corners of Angeles Crest Freeway, but it surely didn’t talk as a lot data to the steering wheel as Porsche does with its electrical energy steering. Maserati simply isn’t there but, but it surely’s shut.

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

2019 Maserati Levante GTS

GTS or bust

The Levante shouldn’t have launched with a 345-hp twin-turbo V-6. It deserved a V-Eight below its hood. For 2019, the GTS mannequin offers the Levante lineup what it wanted.

Whereas the Levante GTS begins from $121,475, my properly optioned tester rang in at $133,250. That’s simply barely greater than a base Cayenne Turbo, earlier than choices. The Maserati seems way more particular, other than a number of bits inside it the cabin.

With the GTS’s twin-turbo V-Eight engine the Levante lastly has the the velocity and mechanical soundtrack to match its svelte form, it’s only a few particulars wanting delivering on the particular feeling implied by the Maserati badge.

“Sir, that’s a lovely automobile. Not everybody may be Italian, proper?” a person on the seaside in Santa Monica requested.

That’s proper.

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