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In January 2011, Sergio Marchionne said a Jeep Grand Cherokee-based Maserati would be made in Detroit; in September, Maserati showed their Kubang concept, a Ferrari V8 powered luxury SUV. It was not to be, though.
The actual car, called the Maserati Levante, is based on the Maserati large cars (Ghibli and Quattroporte), which are loosely based on the Chrysler 300C. They are using an engine whose creation was led by Paolo Martinelli, developed by Maserati, and made by Ferrari. The name Levante, announced in September 2012, means “East” in Italian.
Maserati specified the eight-speed automatic with both gasoline and diesel engines, meeting Euro 6 emissions standards. K.Oellinger noted that Alvolante specified the 4.7 liter Ferrari V8 and a higher-performance VM 3-liter V6 diesel pushing out 300 hp — the same diesel used in the Ghibli.
An all wheel drive system with an adjustable air suspension is standard.
We found the interior quite attractive in person; the controls are (probably very deliberately) a departure from the Ghibli, which was critiqued for being too close to the Chrysler 300C, but still seem usable. Cargo space is not especially good, but this is a sportswagon, and you can still lower the back seats or, it appears, put skis through the cutout. The seats have decent bolstering and side/back cushions, but the lower cushion is quite hard — as it was in the BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes cars we sat in.
Overall, compared with the Bentley SUV and some other competitors, the somewhat garish grille is almost toned down. The side vents (which appear to be functional) are unfortunately more reminiscent of Buicks than anything else, and indeed, while attractive from the side, the Levante does not carry much in the way of unique attractiveness — distinction from the front, yes.
The front appearance of the Levante is quite similar to that of the Kubung concept, below, but the rest of the car is more practical in its final form.
The 392 Hemi currently produces 485 horsepower, but it is large (6.4 liters) and heavy compared to the 4.7 liter V8 engine, which produces 444 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque in the GranTurismo MC. The switch from Grand Cherokee to a large-car basis for the SUV was confirmed in the 2013 financial report, which noted a $65 million charge for Maserati R&D “due to change of platform for luxury SUV.”
JackRatchett’s early-2010 rendering was close to “dead on.”
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