Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld
2021 Maserati Levante GTS
Updated: Mar 20, 2022
This week we are reviewing the 2021 Maserati Levante GTS. Our vehicle was assembled at the Stabilimento di Mirafiori, Turin plant in Italy and had an MSRP of CAD $159,040.00.
For years, the house of Trident has been in the shadow of luxury automakers. Especially from its long-time rival Ferrari and later as part of its luxury division. Now it situates itself above Alfa Romeo, sitting at the top of the pyramid of the newly formed Stellantis group. Naturally, when you're at the top of the food chain, you need to source your engine from no other city than Maranello. What's so special about Maranello, you ask? It's the home of the Prancing Horse! A Twin-Turbo V8 from Ferrari, making 550 horse and 538 lb-ft of torque, races through the veins of this larger family SUV. It is pumping out adrenaline as much as it consumes fuel. Maserati does have a slightly more powerful version of this engine inside the top-of-the-line model "Trofeo," giving it an additional 40hp and making it capable of 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds.
Fun Factor: 9
According to Maserati, our GTS model can reach 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds, but we got pretty close to the 4-second mark during our testing. Maybe the scariest 4 seconds of my life, the acceleration hit so hard with most of the power initially sent to the rear wheels. On an ice-cold pavement with 22-inch performances tires, you only have a split second to correct the trajectory with this much power. It only starts sending power to the front wheel when it senses slippage. Maserati chose an appropriate ZF 8-speed transmission that responds quickly when you put your foot down. With such a large vehicle, expectations were low in ride comfort, but they nailed it. Body roll is barely noticeable around corners and remained comfortable over road imperfections. Steering was a little disappointing; it never felt connected and artificially heavy in Sport. We can forgive this deficiency because the roaring V8 brings back memories of what Italian car manufacturers make best; no German rival can reproduce the symphony their V8 makes. Finally, an essential point often forgotten with powerful monsters like the Levante is the brakes; we can report that Maserati hasn't cut corners here. The red callipers look stunning and stop the vehicle with confidence.
Can it Family: 8
The interior comfort is unparalleled; it doesn't matter if you're sitting in front or back; the Pieno Fiore natural leather is delightful. The seat bolstering is what you would expect of a vehicle in this price category; our GTS even had heated seats for our back passengers. Even the Alcantara headliner felt expensive. The Trident logo embroidered on the headrests elevates you to another level where mythology comes to reality. Our kids loved being chauffeured to school. Not only did our kids get the attention of their peers, but their parents as well. The trunk is roomy and can fit any snazzy stroller; there is also a ski hatch for those trips to Tremblant. Suppose you use your Levante during the winter months and have parked it outside; while you would enjoy the heated steering wheel, we suggest wearing some leather gloves as the paddle shifters become frosty. What dilutes the whole experience is that certain buttons and switches seem taken straight off a Chrysler 300.
Like others in this segment, fuel economy isn't its strong point; we averaged a whopping 18.3L/100km of premium gas. While we did most of our testing in the city and drove like we stole the vehicle, Maseratti announced a better fuel economy for the GTS. Fuel economy is 17.4L/100km in the city, 12.0L/100km on the Hwy and a combined rating of 15L/100km.
On the Hwy, the Levante feels like a sofa with rockets attached to it. You can sit back and program the semi-autonomous driving, keeping one hand on the steering wheel and relaxing. What can be appreciated during long drives is the quality of assembly. There aren't any quirky sounds coming from any of the panels. You see that even though there was some parts sharing, it has been done in the most meticulous way possible.
In the automotive industry, you will often find brand-name sound systems, but when you turn them on, you find it hasn't been carefully programmed and doesn't sound right. I was a little afraid of this; however, Bowers & Wilkins rarely let us down. In this case, Maserati requested it be designed specifically for them. The sound is crisp and delightful, giving you an immersive experience. As for the infotainment, it's easy to use, and if you see some resemblance to the Uconnect system, you are not wrong. We have always liked it as it does have physical buttons to complement the touch screen. It isn't hard to find any feature or setting; often, these can be within a click or two. The system does support Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
Now how will it be installing car seats inside your luxurious Levante? The door opens wide enough to place the car seat. Once inside, you'll notice that the anchors are positioned within the seat and are easy to latch. Where the challenge arises is from the location of the anchors. They are positioned 12 cm from the seat's base; this creates difficulty with certain car seats being fixed securely in place without sliding from one side to another. To this comes another difficulty with using a booster seat; the seat buckle is placed so deep within the seat it wasn't easy to help buckle our child. If this didn't add enough to the complexity, the placement of the belt buckle is centred to the seat, making it quite challenging to have a comfortable position of a booster seat. As for older children, they can open the doors without any difficulty. We saw the same difficulty with older children to buckle themselves due to the placement of the buckle. If you think of having 3 kids in the back, we wish you good luck with the middle seat child. It will probably result in World War 3 since the buckle is placed close. It took us forever to get everyone to be comfortable. In the end, it might be best to get the Genuine branded Maserati car seats to find a perfect fit. Or even get a custom-fitted car seat to match your beautiful interior from Anthony Top Stitch.
City Cruising: 5
The steering felt light in the city, making the parking maneuver easy. Currently, there is only one hybrid version in the Levante lineup, and it's not available in North America. While this hybrid is more of a mild hybrid, it would be interesting to see a plug-in version of the Levante to compete with other luxury SUVs. And that can let the big engines do the screaming on the way to the cabin.
Why would we buy the Maserati Levante GTS, or what we liked about it?
It might be your last chance of getting a Ferrari engine in a Maserati. Ironically for the luxury and performance, the Levante is an exciting proposition at $150000. The interior comfort is unparallel; even its German rivals at this price point have a hard time competing.
Why would we not buy the Maserati Levante GTS, or what did we not like about it?
No Hybrid is available in Canada, nor is a PHEV variant available. Options can quickly increase the price of the vehicle. Maserati doesn't have a stellar record when it comes to reliability.
Additional phots by: Yoan Dubord, Vince P. Sziget and DF&F team
Maserati has lent us this vehicle as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Maserati Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.
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