There’s no doubt about it; the Bentley Bentayga has to go down as one of the most significant cars released in recent times. Doing for the SUV sector what the Beetles did for rock and roll, Bentley’s first ever production model of its kind pushed the boundaries of SUV design into hitherto uncharted territory. Blending the opulence of the world’s most premium limousines with performance figures befitting of most top-end sports cars, the Bentayga was a true game changer. In one foul swoop, the land of the humble SUV was transformed into the stomping ground of the world’s prestigious brands.
On this front, Lamborghini has already made its intentions more than clear, and is expected to enter the ring with an all-new high-performance luxury SUV model of its own, the Urus, in 2018. And that’s not all. Step up Maserati, with the first official images of its own eagerly-awaited debut SUV, the Levante, ahead of its world unveiling at the upcoming 2016 Geneva Motor Show.
In response to leaked images that surfaced in the Dutch press earlier this week, the Italian stable has moved quickly to reveal the full identity of its first ever production SUV.
Lining up alongside the brand’s existing four-pronged range of luxury saloons and sports cars, the Levante adopts many of the classic Maserati signatures, most notably the three iconic air vents along the front wings as well as the trademark barred front grille. New tapered headlights split into two elements, with the upper section connected to the radiator grille. Above, the Levante’s bonnet features four sculpted lines flowing down into the front facia.
The rear of the new Levante tapers down steeply from a modestly-proportioned spoiler into the large back window, creating a sports car-esc, streamlined profile.
In terms of equipment, Maserati is yet to disclose the real nitty-gritty, but has confirmed that the 2016 Levante will boast various high-tech toys such as electronic suspension, controlled damping and air springs and a ‘Q4’ intelligent all-wheel drive system.
Equipped with a specially calibrated 8-speed automatic gearbox, the Levante will be available in petrol and diesel guise according to Maserati’s rather vague press releases. Nevertheless, unofficial sources delve deeper, speculating that the new luxury SUV could harness the same 3.0-litre V6 petrol unit seen in the Ghibli and Quattroporte saloons. If true, the Levante could potentially top the dial at 164mph and devour 0-62mph in just 5.2sec.
A 3.0-litre V6 diesel is also rumoured, as well as a possible range-topping performance version powered by the top-spec Quattroporte’s V8 petrol.
We’ll get the full low-down on the all-new Maserati Levante at its world premiere in Genva next month. The SUV’s official launch date in Europe is planned for this spring 2016, followed by other key international markets later this year.