Review: Sumptuous luxury all the way: Bellissimo Levante breezes into SA

2018-06-12 21:02

As human beings we seek beautiful experiences. Melinda Ferguson recently got to spend a memorable few hours, along with three friends in the new Gran Sport Maserati Levante.

On a rain-soaked Monday in Cape Town a few weeks ago – yes how great does that sound now that the Cape is emerging from the drought – I was handed the keys to the new Gran Sport Maserati Levante.

I thought it somewhat rude not to share my Italian spoils, so I called two girlfriends at 8am to go on a spontaneous road trip along the breathtaking southern Cape coast.

The name “Maserati” elicited such excitement that all their plans for the day were instantly dropped in favour of the Italian SUV which was first launched at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.

In fact Luca, my friend Lindy’s 11-year-old son, suddenly developed a life-threatening headache which prevented him from going to school that morning but which miraculously evaporated when I rolled into his mother’s driveway.

So now we were four.

We were clearly not the Levante’s only fans. In less than a year Maserati has sold 25000 SUVS in 72 countries, breaking all previous sales records.

Wherever we parked or pulled up, the signature Trident of Neptune Maserati symbol, proudly displayed on the front grille, elicited stares of approval.

So where does the name Levante originate? Google informed me that the Italian manufacturer has a thing for naming its cars after famous winds.

Back in 1963 it began with the legendary Mistral. Next up was the Ghibli, the Bora and then came the Khamsin.

The Levante SUV is named after a ferocious Mediterranean wind that can change from a whisper to gale force in an instant.

It’s an apt name for this vehicle, which goes from serene to powerful beast in an instant.

On our impromptu road trip we got to experience the all new red-blooded top-of-the-range petrol-powered V6 3.0 litre Gran Sport.

True to Maserati tradition, the new SUV is an aesthetic performance dream, an ode to elegant Italian style and detail, a truly hand-crafted bespoke affair.

Along the breathtaking Cape windy roads en route to Scarborough, we got to savour the Levante’s power and dynamics with its outputs of 320kW of power and impressive 580Nm of torque.

There was much squealing as I put foot down on the aluminium sport pedals, emitting a V6 petrol roar, and grasped the Sport power steering to take her from 0-100km/h in just 5.2 seconds.

The drive info came by way of the speedometer and rev counter, housed in a leather-finished binnacle, backlit with white light making info clear and crisp on the drive.

Sadly I couldn’t risk the top speed of 264km/h – after all we did have a child in the spacious and sumptuous rear seats.

Although we didn’t take the all-wheel beaut offroad, that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have driven her on to more rough terrain.

The Levante has impressive four-wheel drive technology, plus advanced active air suspension system that raises or lowers the SUV according to need or preference.

There are six settings to choose from, enabling low or high clearance.

The buzzword for the day was sumptuous luxury all the way as we nestled back into our hand-stitched top class leather lounge – the seats are combined with mulberry silk inserts designed by Ermenegildo Zegna, one of the world’s leading luxury menswear designers, also found in the door panels, roof lining, sunshades and ceiling light fixtures.

Despite the Levante’s coupé-like appearance, there is impressive room for both driver and passengers and as we drove in our luxury space ship, I hooked us up via Bluetooth to the Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound system with its 17 speakers and 1.280-watt amplifier.

When an old Eurythmics song came on, Annie Lennox said it best: “Sweet dreams are made of this, who am I to disagree ?”

Rating: 5 stars

Price: R1 950 000 standard

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May 19 2019