2016 Maserati Levante Resign Review

It’s been a while since I did one of these design reviews. It’s the new Maserati SUV which is really a kind of raised pseudo-estate. It still looks good, and far better than I had feared.

2016 Maserati Levante: source
2016 Maserati Levante. It looks like a nice estate from this angle: source

Maserati call this a cross-over, making it somewhere between an estate car, hatchback and SUV. Whatever it is called it looks purposeful and is much the most successful Maserati design since the second last Quattroporte. Recent cars have been rather busy and fussily detailed. This one is calm with enough subtle touches to explain its purpose without drifting into the realms of cross-over cliché.

The side view shows simply surfaced flanks, a nicely falling roofline and a willingness to resist a raked windscreen. It shows how a QP estate could look too. Notice that the angle of the a-pillar does not meet the centre of the front axle but shoots forward. It’s probably not that apparent when seen in the metal.


And the front is pleasantly free of the complex lamp shapes that are the norm at the moment. The lamps connect to the grille in a similar fashion to some smaller BMWs and Mazdas. It works, giving the car a modern look without being contrived.

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This is the 2014 Ghibli which has a nicer grille but less pleasing lamps. The shutline to the bumper is slightly too pronounced.

2014 Maserati Ghibli: source
2014 Maserati Ghibli: source

The Levante is quite an event for Maserati but these days crossovers are where the action is, to the dismay of saloon car enthusiasts. Although the car was mooted to have been built in Detroit, it is slated for production at Fiat’s Mirafiori plant. It will be on sale in Europe this year.

This is what Maserati had to say about the car. It “features clear associations with the Maserati brand and its distinctive Italian character: the aggressive front introduces new, tapered headlights separated into two elements, with the upper headlight unit connected to the radiator grille.”

It’s an important car for Maserati as global sales fell 11% last year.

 

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

27 thoughts on “2016 Maserati Levante Resign Review”

  1. No surprises here: the Levante appears exactly how a Maserati CUV would look. To my eyes it looks a lot like a squashed Mazda CX5, particularly the way the panels meet around the tailgate. Still, the design is good enough and I imagine it will nigh on double Maserati’s volume overnight.

  2. Hmmmm … ‘don’t like it. Too fussy looking with that rather poorly integrated rear haunch and overly long rear over-hang. Too many “sporty” styling cues forced onto a kind of car that just isn’t to my mind.

    What do you make of the new Scenic?

    1. It’s a tidy design, within Renault’s current language (that bloody trainer shoe sole sill again, Laurens!). MPV is too arcane an acronym for me to bother protesting that it’s probably a bit diminished in the load carrying department. And, unlike the Levante, the Scenic’s window line and rear wing seem to come from the same vehicle.

    2. Yes the scenic looks good from what I’ve seen so far. Probably the best of the LVdA era actually.

    3. I was going to make a remark about the Scenic in the publicity shots having unlikely sized wheels, but I see that 20″ wheels are used across the range. Full marks to a design department for ensuring that the styling promises they often break are actually delivered this time. On the other hand I’ll be interested to read how it rides.

    4. It is actually quite true to the concept first shown in Geneva five years ago (5 years!!!), and not just for the big wheels.

    5. 20″ ?!? That’s really crazy. Nobody needs that. That wheel size takes away too much space, and I don’t want to know how such a car rides. And, do people who buy this ever consider what it means if you need a new set of tyres? I hope there will be an end to this wheel size trend very soon.

  3. Interesting to contrast the approach Maserati has taken with the Levante compared to the Jaguar F-Pace. Although of different sizes, both are products from sports car manufacturers with no CUV lineage. The Levante is very much a high rise five door coupé, whereas the F-Pace is more a high riding estate. There is no right or wrong in this segment (BMW X6 apart) and both approaches are valid, especially as the Levante’s size will grant it the interior volume robbed by the declining roof line.

    1. Isn’t it just because the Jaguar is derived from a Land Rover platform? In other words did they have as much room for manoeuvre?

    2. I hate to say so (simply because I’d prefer to deny its very existence), but the F-pace is the far tidier design. This is actually closer to the TC by Maserati in spirit than the original Ghibli or even Pininfarina’s Quattroporte V.

  4. The only thing I like about this car is that it’s quite low and sleek and not too SUVish in its proportions. With everything else, I agree with SV.

    1. I don’t like it either, but then I dislike these stupid vehicles anyhow. A Maserati Ghibli or Quattroporte estate would be so much nicer. The reason it looks fussy is to try and disguise the car’s sheer bulk. The F Pace demolishes it as a piece of design, and surprisingly Porsche has managed to find a relatively clean and attractive SUV look after the horror of the Mk 1 Cayenne and flawed Panamera.

    2. I do not mind the Range Rover Sport, coming as it does from a manufacturer with an actual off road lineage. All of these cars may as well have the driver leaning out of the window whilst brandishing a huge wad of currency, screaming LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT MY GROTESQUE WEALTH!

    3. I’ve got used to SUVs and, although I’ll never love them, I’ve had to accept them. But it’s the driving standards that come with them that I can’t accept. Some SUVs might be a bit on the lardy side, but many drivers completely overestimate their vehicle’s dimensions. They sit in traffic unable to fit though huge gaps and swing importantly out into the centre of the road when turning left, as if they were driving a 40 tonner. I know some performance cars come with ‘free’ driving courses. Could it possibly be mandatory for SUV drivers to take such courses?

    4. It’s interesting to note that former FCA head of design, Lorenzo Ramaciotti, has actually helped author a book commemorating Maserati’s centennial, because he claims to be so attached to this particular brand. He was also head of design at Pininfarina when Ken Okuyama was busy penning the Quattroporte V. All of which is very much at odds with this current generation of Tridente’d cars, which appear to be quoting certain elements and details, without actually being respectful. It’s a bit like what Ford did to Jaguar in the ’90s, just with a less pungent retro smell.

  5. I agree that, if it wasn’t for the cliched wing portholes (which are the modern day Maserati’s version of the iffy shaped clock of De Tomaso’s era) and trident, I’d have assumed it was probably a Mazda. Or maybe that’s mean to Mazda since it just looks rather generic – a competent cut-and-paste collage of various other vehicles. The coke bottle haunch is at odds with the glasshouse line – it just looks as though it was added to give a bit of interest.

  6. The Truth About Cars recently made what I feel to be a valid point about the homogeneous nature of CUVs:

    “The crossover… is to the SUV what the [personal luxury coupe] was to the big coupes of the ’60s: the same look and feel, but for less money. It is the cheapest way to have approximately what everybody else has. This also explains why all crossovers look exactly the same; they’re meant to, because having a crossover that looks unique defeats the point of having what everybody else has.”

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/02/no-fixed-abode-high-low-high-low-off-work-go/

  7. Thanks for those responses. Like Sean I have got over my dislike of SUVs and their variants. They aren’t going away so the question is about good and bad interpretations of the theme.
    The Levante, on reflection, is a carefully composed assembly of familiar elements and nothing new appears in the mix. It’s not beautiful and not grotesque. It’s exactly correctly judged “product” for a market uninterested in car design or arty ideas about creativity. Professionally-speaking it’s probably the right solution and not a likeable solution.

  8. It is quite amusing to see that not even Maserati or Jaguar (or Porsche or Bentley) are able to build a SUV that makes me want to own it. This car could also be the new Infinity or Kia. It does not look elegant or solid or european or italian.
    On the other hand it is really shocking to me how easy it is to be successful in this market segment – compared to other segments, where being successful is nearly impossible.

    And yes, it is a special SUV-problem – not a problem of Maserati´s designers. Look at the Alfieri – yam yam !!

    1. I enjoyed seeing the Alfieri again, especially from that angle. Has a little bit of Z4 Coupe about it, no?

  9. I shouldn’t like the Levante, but I do. it, the Macan, the previous-gen Range Rovers and that mid-sized Infiniti crossover are the only crossovers/SUVs whose lines I enjoy.

    1. What I can say is that I don´t hate it. It could be that I am at that stage in my life where that´s as good as it gets. Then again, it´s not a car for me. I can´t even pretend to enter the state of mind needed to make a car like this look appealing in that “I want one” sense. That the Levante doesn´t make me grate my teeth is possibly an endorsement of some kind.

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