Levante - Be Quick


Posted by Dave Moore on 28 September 2016

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15 FORWARD ORDERS IN CHRISTCHURCH ALONE

Maserati’s long-awaited luxury/sports crossover is going great guns, gaining massive forward orders on its way to achieving its expected annual figures of 30,000 unit sales. 

Worldwide demand for the car has already added a second shift to its Levante plant in Italy in order to increase production, which actually started in February. 

Thus sales are likely to go well beyond the 30,000 peak expected for 2017, a number made up of 10,000 units each for the US and China, with the rest of the world getting the remaining 10,000 units. Estimates of actual demand say that it could be as high as 40,000 per annum.

The sales action isn’t just happening overseas, either, as following Euromarque’s exclusive reveal of the car last month, orders to the tune of 15 examples have been received.

Known Maserati owners and fans were invited to a quiet evening gathering with drinks and canapés at Euromarque’s remarkable new showroom to meet and greet the car, and to understand what it looks, feels and smells like in the flesh. 

So often, even the greatest promotional pictures and videos fail to deliver the heft, muscularity, on and off road stance and general ambience of a vehicle. 

At the Christchurch gathering, attendees were noted as saying - well before a the drapes were taken from the left hand drive Levante in showroom - “Oh, it might be a bit narrow, I might need flared arches on mine” and another “I’m not sure it will be big enough for my needs.”

Once the vehicle could be seen and sampled in the flesh, those perceived expectations vanished, and the two quoted clients were later heard comparing their take on interior treatment and choices of wheel and tyre combinations. 

They both admitted that their previous assumptions were mistaken, because this irrefutably beautiful Italian car is also practical and never would you ever call it narrow, either physically or in terms of its day to day focus.

The Levante is destined to offer spicy Italian performance and dynamics with sumptuous accommodation expressely designed to charm in exactly the same way its curvaceous body does on the outside - Car and Driver called it “an automotive Monica Bellucci”.

A twin-turbo 3.0-litre V–6 diesel does the work, producing 202kW of power and 600Nm of torque and driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic. The interior boasts lots of wood and leather; an 8.4-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Siri and Android Auto will standard. The Levante is expected to go on sale in New Zealand in December or early in the new year.

The Levante starts at $136,990, with the Luxury and Sport models priced around $155,990.

In terms of forward orders, Euromarque would appear to be ahead of the play in New Zealand, with 15 of the 42 national orders coming from innovative Christchurch dealership. Maserati’s usual annual sales performance is around 80 cars a year, so the 150-plus total expected for 2017 says a lot for the company’s confidence in the Levante, which is expected to make up half of that number. 

The Levante, which has been in the psyche of Maserati aficiandos for more than a decade, first saw the light of day as the ‘Kubang’ concept car at motor shows all over the world, where the common comment was: “I bet it won’t look like that when it’s released!”

How wrong those naysayers were. Just like those who had opinions before the drapes were removed from the Levante at its exclusive Euromarque reveal the real thing really is as lovely as the Kubang said it could be.

Maserati sums things up well: The Italian marque says it “hasn’t built an SUV, we built a Maserati.” The Levante in other words is “The Maserati of SUVs.”

The forward orders would tend to attest to that. Better be quick, the same reaction has occurred at all Right Hand Drive market receptions for the Levante. 

I can’t say I’m surprised.

Dave Moore
AUTOMOTIVE JOURNALIST

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