If the Frankfurt Auto Show and others have been any indication, then the trend towards SUV’s is showing no signs of slowing down. In-fact, car manufacturers across price segments, are bending over backwards to cater to the demand from customers. Jaguar did it with their F-Pace and Bentley have followed suit with their just announced Bentayga, so Fiat owned Maserati too decided that it was time to step into the ring. While purists may be screaming holy sacrilege, the truth is that buyers simply cannot have enough of this body type and if cannot convince them, then it’s best to join them.
The Maserati Levante is a crucial model whose success might just be the prop needed to shore up Fiat Group’s revenues. The luxury auto-maker recognizes the inherent risk involved given that this is their first ever foray into the SUV segment. Things therefore have been a tad controversial as Maserati traditionalists have panned the marque for diluting its sports-car heritage in favour of a SUV. It is therefore heartening to see from the latest images doing the rounds that the Levante’s lines aren’t just a Range Rover imitation. The production body as seen in the pictures does sit rather low for a traditional SUV. Apart from the trademark huge grille that dominates the front end, there is a bit of an hint of Porsche Cayenne for those who can spot it.
Fiat is doing an Alfa Romeo Giulia QV with the Maserati Levante by launching the ‘hot’ editions first, in a bid to garner the maximum attention for their maiden SUV. So expect a high-power petrol under the hood, going by the quad tailpipes spotted round the back. There will eventually be a plug-in hybrid variant – the first ever by an Italian Marque, but that’s not expected to be doing the rounds till 2018. So the focus at least for the first couple of years after launch will be on traditional propulsion options. A formal debut is expected in the first quarter of the New Year, possibly at the Motor Show in Geneva with customer deliveries scheduled for later in the year.