After being previewed by a concept five years ago, Maserati’s SUV has finally put an end to the tons of speculative renderings by unveiling the Levante.
Compared to the Kubang, the study that put the “Maserati SUV” idea into practice for the first time in the company’s history, the Levante appears to be a chiseled luxurious alternative to a high-end limousine instead of a glorified crossover-looking automobile governed by the trident badge.
Just like the Bentayga, the Levante exhales exclusivity with its imposing design language, while still sporting some style cues introduced by the Kubang. Although the latter was a big brute in its own right, the egg-shaped proportions unfortunately didn’t do it any justice, making it look much smaller than it was. The blackened/plastic rear bumper, front lip and fender sills didn’t help either, giving it a cheap appearance that couldn’t fit in the (hypothetical) segment it was intended for.
The Levante, on the other hand, fixed all the Kubang’s shortcomings, becoming Maserati’s new daring proposition for the motoring world.
From a visual standpoint, the new production automobile received an elongated, flatter hood and an interior cell pushed towards the rear. The roofline remained reminiscent of the Kubang, with its slope forming a coupe-style body; although the Levante’s take on the matter is clearly much more diluted, probably to leave more headroom for the rear passengers.
The sculpted rear hatch, although inclined, doesn’t seem to be as radical as the Kubang’s, while the vehicle’s hips (rear quarter panels) appeared to have become a much more insignificant part of the overall design, shrinking in length.
Which brings us to their behinds; the sculpted Kubang, ironically, has a cleaner approach, completely different taillights and a subtle spoiler, while the Levante appears to have lost most of the Italian flair, adopting a more generic look that could very well belong to, say, an Infiniti. To put it simply, the two cars are nothing alike when admiring their derriere.
Move to the front of the Levante and the similarities with the Kubang become obvious. The enormous iconic Maserati grille reigns on the entire front fascia, while the headlights are clearly inspired from the 2011 concept (even though there are notable differences between them). Due to its redesigned, aggressive front end, the Levante sports multiple design cues “borrowed” from the Ghibli as well; the light clusters are slant, unlike the concept’s larger units.
The fundamental issue with a Maserati SUV, whether we’re talking about the Levante or the Kubang, is that the Italian car manufacturer’s die-hard fans will probably have a hard time getting to grips with the idea.
On the other hand, they'd better hope it "pulls a Cayenne" and brings in the money so that the company can go on building the sports cars they love so much. Like the Alfieri, for example, that has been pushed back again for... God knows when.