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Maserati has decided to sell a petrol Levante after all

U-turn ahoy: Maserati sees sense and has cancelled its diesel-only SUV plans. Good.

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Rewind the clock to springtime 2016 for a second. Aah, that’s better. A simpler time. Politics didn’t make people’s neck veins pop with indignation (much). We still had Prince. And in the car world, Maserati was vehemently refuting any possibility of selling a petrol-powered Levante SUV in the UK. What a distant world…

Yep, Maserati said there was simply no business case to offer a petrol flagship Levante. No-one wanted ‘em. Nada. No way. Nuh-uh. This must’ve caused some amusement at Audi, Porsche, Jaguar, BMW, Mini, Mercedes-AMG, Bentley, Land Rover and even cousin brands Alfa Romeo and Jeep. Who, you’ll note, will all happily sell British folks fast, petrol-swilling crossovers and SUVs. 

As a result, the Levante waded into battle in 2016 with just one engine option: a single-turbo diesel 3.0-litre V6, good for just 296bhp and reaching 62mph in a not-very-Maserati 6.9 seconds. It did the eco-numbers okay enough, recording a claimed 33mpg and 189g/km, but so far as seduction goes, it was a complete damp flannel. Not ideal for a car designed to pretty much double Maserati’s output (and income). Surely the whole point of buying a Maser is because it’s not the go-to sensible choice? Why only offer a go-to sensible powerplant?

Peter Denton, boss of Maserati North Europe admitted: “Following the launch of the diesel-powered Levante in the UK, it became clear there is also a demand for the luxury SUV in a petrol-powered version.” Presumably, the market research bod was sacked about ten seconds afterward.

Praise be, someone at Maserati has woken up and smelt the super-unleaded. The Italians have announced they’re launching a petrol Levante S (fancy that) . The petrol in question is a Ferrari-engineered 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 offering a far more enticing 430bhp, and capable of powering Maserati’s heavyweight to 62mph in a respectable 5.2 seconds.

What’s more, because it hails from the land of fine art and good coffee rather than sausages and lederhosen, there is no 155mph top speed limiter. So, this Levante S will outrun a BMW X5M or Mercedes-AMG GLE63 in the end, v-maxing at a heady 164mph. And hands-up who thinks it’ll sound a tad more operatic? Thought so.

From September 2017, you can get your hands on a Levante S, and it’ll cost £70,755, which is a chunky £16,400 more than the diesel. What, you thought there wouldn’t be a catch? We’re in 2017 now, remember. It’s not a simple time any more.

Photography: Richard Pardon

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