Maserati to Release First SUV in 2016 “Levante”
Exciting times are ahead as Maserati moves forward with its plan to break into the luxury SUV market with the Levante. The brand has built up a reputation for making exclusive, performance-oriented and thrilling coupes and sedans. With the new model, it will likely apply those same principles, easily making it the most compelling sport utility available on the market.
The Levante SUV will go into production sometime during 2015, but it isn’t anticipated to hit showrooms until 2016. That means before you know it the vehicle will be ready to test drive and purchase. All models will roll out of Fiat Chrysler’s Mirafiori plant, which is located in Turin, Italy. Production estimates sit at somewhere around 10,000 to 15,000 vehicles each year, meaning your Levante won’t be lost in a sea of clones. An exact month for the new model’s release has not yet been given by Maserati.
Unlike the wild claims and early rumors, which said that the Jeep Grand Cherokee would supply the Levante’s base, Maserati itself has disclosed that the vehicle will ride on its own unique platform. To create it, the company modified the Ghibli and Quattroporte chassis, ditching the rear-wheel-drive setup entirely for only the Q4 all-wheel-drive system. The move was made with the aim of making the Levante appropriately utilitarian and sporty.
A modified version of the Quattroporte Q4’s Skyhook suspension supposedly will be used in the Levante. The configuration should also help provide razor-sharp handling and excellent ride comfort, giving owners the best of both worlds.
Thanks to early test mule sightings, automotive journalists are theorizing that the Levante will actually be shorter than the Ghibli, because the rear doors have been shortened. At the same time, the SUV appears to have a wider track, which will help add stability during cornering and other maneuvers. Of course, the new model should be taller, contain better ground clearance and have a higher center of gravity.
Despite the obviously utilitarian qualities of the Levante, don’t expect to see it conquering rugged trails anytime. It will be made for road and possibly track use, which means it should be a blast to drive on twisty, winding roads.
Logically, Maserati should use the same 3.0-liter turbo V-6 and 3.8-liter V-8 engines from the Quattroporte and Ghibli for the Levante. Both would be paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Expect that the engines will provide plenty of power and the ability to accelerate quickly, with the top-of-the-line model putting out around 520 horsepower.
For now, nobody knows for sure exactly what the Levante’s exterior looks are going to be like. Back during the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, Maserati debuted the Kubang concept, which should give some hints about the aesthetics for the production sport utility model.
When news of the Maserati Levante first broke, the Italian brand said the SUV would be constructed in Michigan at the same plant as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango. Back then, the model was to be geared at a more rugged crowd, but now it seems that Maserati is targeting drivers who demand more refined road manners.
Maserati lifted the Levante name from Via Emilia Levante, which is located in Bologna, Italy. It’s an important place in the brand’s past, considering that the Maserati brothers came up with their car company at that location over a century ago.