The Hierarchy of Maserati
20 Aug 2019 MOTORING
By Melinda Ferguson
For a day Melinda Ferguson got to experience the full-throttle of the new Maserati Levante 350, attracting plenty of smiles and admirers.
I know this sounds superficial but I love to watch people’s responses when I rock up in a range of different rides. I call it “The Hierarchy of Wheels”.
Last Wednesday I drove my rental Hyundai i10 to the Maserati dealership in Bryanston. Now don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the i10. It’s a really good, affordable hatch, in the sub R200k zone and does a commendable job nipping around town. But in early rush hour traffic, I was nearly careened off the highway as a ten-tonne truck crossed lanes. Beamers and Mercs swooshed past me as I stuck like glue to the middle lane. Not one single person looked admiringly at my wheels – or at me for that matter. I was invisible, an irritant. It felt like I didn’t exist.
Fast forward an hour later when I was handed the sexy keys for the new Maserati Levante 350.
My ride was metallic pitch black. Nero Ribelle in fact. ( Ribelle means “rebellious” in Italian and nothing tweaks my DNA more than a bit of anarchy.)
Two years ago Maserati introduced its first SUV to the local market, based on the highly acclaimed Ghibli/Quattroporte platform. And for a bit of trivia, the Levante is named after the tempestuous wind that blows across the Western Mediterranean Sea.
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The petrol-powered 350 arrived earlier this year in SA and although it’s regarded as the entry-level Levante, there was nothing downgraded about this Italian SUV. The 350 shares the same engine as the top of the range Levante S – a Ferrari-derived twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, and it brandishes 257kW of power and 500Nm of torque, underpinned by an eight-speed auto transmission with torque converter. As I sailed into the jam of Joburg rush hour, lesser metal mortals parted like Moses’ Red Sea. That trident on my grille, inspired by the Fountain of Neptune, gave me the hierarchy I was craving. Suddenly I was the Queen of the tar. The German tanks gave way, some waved, some saluted, some even flashed at me. What a rush. My newly done hair shone in the Jozi sun, my deep Medea shade of Bobby Brown lipstick glistened. Was it me they were ogling? No, you idiot! It clearly was my Italian steed.
As I waited for the red lights to change, I kicked back in my sumptuous black leather seats, stroked the Ermenegildo Zegna silk interiors and painlessly paired my Bluetooth to the 8.4-inch hi-tech infotainment system. Jay Z blasted through the Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound system as I revved my ride. The congestion of other lesser metals prevented me from racing from 0-100kms in 6 seconds but later on open roads, I got to play a bit in Sport Mode. With a top speed of 251kms, as you can imagine, a bit of revving was de rigor. The Levante 350 is a car ho’s dream to drive, underpinned by its Q4 all-wheel-drive system with rear limited-slip diff. On bumpy, uneven surfaces the standard active air suspension allowed for an ultra-smooth ride, ably supported by 18-inch rubbers. Weighing almost 2.4 tonnes, I was expecting her to be more thirsty so I was pleasantly surprised at the fuel consumption – around 10 l/100kms. Last year I spent some time in the 3.0 diesel derivative but after sailing around in the petrol-powered 350, I hands down preferred it.
Of course, the Levante 350 is not the cheapest option in the premium SUV stable. You can get a Porsche Cayenne for R1 160 000 and the Mercedes-AMG GLE43 goes for R1 259 855. The 350 that I drove had a price tag of R1 549 900 which included some options. But if you’re a Maserati fan, you’re probably inspired by the over 100-year-old Italian brand and that trident symbol. Because after all, Maserati is all about passion and style rather than rational sensibility. La Vida Loca.
FOR MORE INFO :
Building No. 3, Bryanston Boulevard, 2985 William Nicol Drive, Bryanston
Phone: 0800 0600 77