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Culture / Cars

A Sneak Peek at a New Game-Changing Luxury SUV

This True Italian Job Brings Plenty of Roar

BY Jim Shi // 02.22.16

Maserati’s first luxury SUV — its first in the brand’s 100-plus-year history — will finally receive an eagerly awaited world unveiling at the upcoming Geneva International Motor Show in early March.

Few technical details have been issued or confirmed on the Levante, the spiritual successor to the Kubang concept Maserati teased in 2011, but official exterior images released by the Italian automaker reveal the crossover wardrobe applied with healthy doses of signature Maserati style: the gills on the flanks, blistered wheel arches and “Saetta” logo on the C-pillar.

The company confirms that despite initial plans to build the Levante in Detroit alongside its Jeep brethren (Maserati, like Alfa Romeo, is owned by parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), ultimately the decision was made — no doubt brand image was a considerable factor — to build it in the Mirafiori plant in Turin. A true Italian job, indeed.

Initial impression: give or take the odd bit of Jeep-influenced 4×4 hardware, the style is distinctly different from a Grand Cherokee or, from the rear, a Porsche Cayenne. Most prominent — and may we add, most gorgeous — is the chromed grille framed by eight vertical strakes surrounding a Trident logo. Connected to this unit are slimline headlamps separated into two elements, with the upper headlight unit connected to the radiator grille.

Other signature Maserati elements abound: the three iconic air vents on the front wings and large, frameless door windows. The rear is dominated by the very tapered back window and streamlined shape, both typical of a high-performance sports car.

Tech underpinnings have not been confirmed beyond that a range of V6 and V8 in-house gas and diesel engines will be used under the high-up bonnet — not unlike those found on the current Quattroporte, Ghibli, GranTurismo and GranTurismo Convertible models. Modena has confirmed that every Levante will come with adaptable air suspension, Q4 four-wheel drive and eight-speed auto transmissions. We hope the stellar Maserati exhaust note is also included.

Maserati says the first cars have already been built ahead of a spring 2016 launch in Europe, priced from around $67,000. Sales in the rest of the world kick off later in the year.

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