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Maserati Levante S with 424bhp V6 petrol goes on sale in UK

Maserati adds another string to the Levante's bow with a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 in the new Levante S

Maserati has announced that a new V6 petrol powered version of its Levante SUV – the first SUV from the Italian marque in its 103 year history – is now on sale in the UK, injecting a little extra power and performance into its Porsche Cayenne rival.

It’s a 424bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 designed and built by Ferrari and fitted with this engine, the Levante can do 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds and go on to a top speed of 164mph. This car takes on the Levante S moniker, and is on sale now priced from £70,755. 

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It lines up alongside the £54,335, 271bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel originally offered to buyers as the sole engine choice. 

• New Maserati Levante 2016 review

The move goes against Maserati’s original argument that the 275bhp 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel was the only suitable engine for the UK market. Brits – like buyers in most European markets – predominantly choose diesel power for their premium SUVs.

The diesel is the eco choice in the range thanks to it emitting 189g/km of CO2 compared to the petrol’s relatively dirty 253g/km figure.

While the decision will delight many, European markets still get more choice. There’s a smaller output 350bhp version of the Ferrari-built V6 too, as well as a more economical but less powerful diesel.

Maserati Levante hybrid for 2018

Maserati has also confirmed that plug-in hybrid power is for the Italian brand, likely to be appearing in the range in 2018. Although unconfirmed, the Levante will be a prime model for the new powertrain.

“Chrysler has just launched the Pacifica so we have the technology within the group,” Harald Wester, former Maserati boss told us last year. “The technology will be made available for other brands in the group, too.” he added.

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The new Pacifica MPV can be ordered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Its V6 engine is joined with a 16kWh lithium-ion battery providing up to 30 miles of electric range, and lives under the floor beneath the second row of seats. It takes just two hours to fully charge.

Maserati Levante design details

First revealed in production guise at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, the Maserati's overall shape has more than a few Porsche Cayenne-like proportions to it, but with trademark Italian flair. The large Maserati grille and slim headlights dominate the nose of the car, while creases and flowing lines add some sportiness to the jacked-up shape. At the back there's a roof spoiler and steep windscreen, as well as a sporty bumper and exhaust pipe set-up.

Inside, Maserati is claiming the finest materials will be used for the Levante, including the usual leather but even the option of silk made in the famed Zegna wool mill on the top-spec model with the Luxury Pack Zegna Edition. The latest generation of Maserati's 8.4-inch Touch Control touchscreen infotainment system also debuts, while its claimed to be exceptionally spacious.

All models get an 8-speed automatic gearbox, as well as electronically controlled damping with air springs. Maserati claims 50-50 weight distribution and the lowest centre of gravity in its class.

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Engines options will differ for global markets. The Levante has been developed with a pair of twin-turbo V6s producing 345bhp and 424bhp respectively, with the former managing 0-62mph in six seconds and the latter doing the same sprint in just 5.2 seconds. A 270bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel completes the line-up, doing 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds and 143mph flat-out.

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The diesel emits 189g/km of CO2, a substantial 30g/km more than Jaguar's top diesel V6 F-Pace, whereas the most powerful petrol emits 253g/km, which is nearly as much as the quicker Porsche Cayenne TurboAll Levantes will get four-wheel drive as standard fitment.

SUV to be '100 per cent' Maserati

We asked former boss Harald Wester in 2016 whether the Levante was the most important car Maserati had ever made, but he strongly opposed this, saying instead: “It is the biggest business opportunity".

"I think when you talk about a brand like Maserati, you have to distinguish between the products that have determined the brand’s business opportunities. If I say the Levante is our most important car, you will have many people who are crying and saying ‘this guy is completely nuts."

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He confirmed the manufacture of pre-production models had already started, while customer Levantes would be built from February with delivery shortly after. He revealed that despite having access to the wider Fiat-Chrysler group – including SUV-specialists Jeep – the Levante would be “100 per cent Maserati.”

He also said it would look significantly different to the initial 2011 Kubang concept. Wester refused to elaborate on exactly how it may look, but having reported earlier this year on a set of leaked official drawings, we were already aware the production-ready car was likely to inherit its toned down looks from other models in the range.

Plug-in hybrids will feature heavily in the Maserati line-up before the end of the decade, too, with Wester tell us to expect them “across the entire range – starting at the end of 2017.”

Maserati’s ex-CEO also declared the two-seat Alfieri sports car was in the pipeline, designed to sit alongside the existing GranTurismo and GranCabrio when it goes on sale in 2017. We first saw an Alfieri concept car at the Geneva Motor Show in 2014, but news had subsequently died down – with the brand focussing its efforts elsewhere.

Wester told us the new Jaguar F-Type rival would be the final piece in the puzzle for Maserati’s rejuvenated product range. He ruled out a smaller SUV, though, hinting that might be better suited to sister brand Alfa Romeo.

“You have to consider we are not alone”, he said. “You walk across the corridor and you will meet Alfa Romeo. We will not start everybody doing a bit of everything. It doesn’t make sense.

"The only thing we’re missing is a successor to the sports car. When we’ve realised the Alfieri, from my point of view, we will be done."

Now read more about another Fiat group SUV that's on the horizion from Alfa Romeo.

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