Maserati is set to take on Mercedes-Benz and the GLE with its first ever SUV, the Levante. Spied hiding under Ghibli bodywork, the new model will go on sale next year.
Maserati’s first SUV is one of its most technically advanced cars yet and a crucial model for the firm taking into account its ambitious target to grow sales to 75,000 units by 2018.
A heavily modified version of Maserati’s own ‘Q4’ all-wheel drive system will be adapted for the Levante, though it remains unclear if its underpinnings are a development of those used on the Quattroporte or loosely based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s platform. The now Fiat owned American brand is expected to provide its expertise for off-road abilities.
Test mules for the Levante are based on a heavily modified and raised Ghibli body with flared wheel arches and an unusually high-riding stance. The roofline has also been raised in order to simulate the higher stance and kerb weight of an SUV compared to the Ghibli sedan.
The styling of the Levante has already been signed off, with the definitive production version drawing heavily on the Kubang concept.
Engines for the Levante will be linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission and include a twin-turbo V8 with 560 hp, as well as a twin-turbo V6 that could deliver 350 or 425 hp. A 271 hp 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel will be key for Levante’s succes in Europe.
The Maserati Levante is expected to be built at Fiat’s Mirafiori factory, a section of which is currently being overhauled and re-fitted. It could be unveiled as early as this autumn at next Frankfurt motor show.