Maserati Australia has been forced to take diesel only for its upcoming Levante premium SUV, with the high-performance 320kW twin-turbo V6 petrol flagship denied for our market.
The Levante will join the ever-growing cohort of premium SUV models in January priced from $139,990 plus on-road costs or $159,990 (plus orc) for the Luxury and Sport versions.
All three will utilise a 202kW/600Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 and eight-speed automatic, together claiming a 6.9-second 0-100km/h for the 2205kg high rider. It is some distance off the 5.2sec 0-100km/h claim of the petrol 3.0-litre flagship currently reserved for left-hand-drive markets.
For performance, Maserati’s first SUV also falls short of the $149,300 (plus orc) Porsche Cayenne S Diesel that uses a 283kW/850Nm 4.2-litre turbo-diesel V8 and claims a 5.7sec 0-100km/h. The local importer of the Italian brand isn’t complaining, however.
Speaking at the local reveal of the Levante in Sydney, Maserati Australia chief operating officer Glen Sealey claimed that 90 per cent of premium SUV buyers choose diesel and he argued that it was the right pick for its newest model.
“We’ve got our hand up for every variant I can get [and] I’d like to be playing in that other 10 per cent of the market [with a petrol model] … but if I was sitting here and saying we had a petrol and no diesel, I’d be very upset,” he said.
Sealey also claimed the Levante diesel was engineered to sound like an “old rumbling V8” after admitting that the engine note is a “core brand value for Maserati.”
Despite diesel power only, Maserati still claims the Levante mixes the dynamism of a Cayenne with the comfort of a Range Rover Sport.
It points to 50:50 weight distribution, the lowest centre of gravity and slipperiest aerodynamic performance in the class, and an all-wheel-drive system that prioritises torque to the rear wheels and utilises a torque vectoring system as major dynamic strongsuits.
Air suspension and 19-inch alloy wheels are standard, but the Levante Sport is expected to be the equal-most popular grade (snaring 40 per cent of sales, like the entry grade). It adds a black exterior package, sports seats, paddleshifters and 21-inch alloys.
The Levante – which already has a pre-order bank into the hundreds – is also expected to help almost double Maserati sales in Australia from last year’s 519-unit tally to almost 1000 next year when its newest model goes on-sale in this SUV-adoring market.