The changing fates of both the GranTurismo and GranCabrio models could push Maserati towards a high-performance Levante

If there’s anything the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio has taught us, it’s that there’s plenty of room for high-performance SUVs in the premium SUV market. Now, it seems that Alfa Romeo’s sister brand, Maserati, is gearing up to join in on the fun as the Italian automaker has expressed interest in launching a high-performance version of the Levante SUV.

Maserati global operations chief Alberto Cavaggioni made the proclamation, telling Autocar that the company is open to the possibility, provided that it can make a good business case for it. Ah yes, that all-too familiar “business case” phrase. It’s the automotive equivalent of “we’ll see” that parents tell their children when the little ones want to buy a toy.

On a more serious note, Cavaggioni pointed out that Maserati has the capability to introduce a performance version of the Levante SUV. For one, it has a 3.8-liter V-8 engine that it can use for the SUV. It’s the same engine that powers the Quattroporte sedan and it’s good for 523 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, putting it right smack in the middle of the 505-horsepower Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV and the 542-horsepower Jaguar F-Pace SVR.

The concern – because there always has to be one – is whether a high-performance Levante can move the needle in a market that’s become increasingly more competitive. It’s not just the Stelvio QV and the F-Pace SVR that Maserati has to contend with. Other models like BMW’s entire lineup of M SUVs also populate the segment, as does Mercedes-AMG with the likes of the AMG GLE. Even Audi has expressed interest in beefing up its RS line to add more SUVs into the mix.

If Maserati does push forward with a performance version of the Levante, Cavaggioni says that it needs to be “justified by volumes.” It’s admittedly easier said than done, but given how so many brands have already made that leap, Maserati may not have a choice but to take that plunge since it has a lot riding on the SUV to carry the company in the next few years.

It’s especially more crucial for a performance Levante to enter the fray in light of conflicting reports regarding the status of both GranTurismo and GranCabrio models. Remember, Maserati Europe general manager Giulio Pastore told Autocar that both the GranTurismo and GranCabrio models will get updated in 2018 and 2019, respectively. But a new report from Car Magazine also quotes Pastore hinting that Maserati could go three years (2018 to 2020) without a sports car in its lineup.

Whatever happens to both the GranTurismo and GranCabrio models, one thing appears clear, at least from the outside. A high-performance Levante SUV is an important model for the Italian automaker. The only question is whether Maserati wants to make that leap.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Bigger chance of seeing a performance Levante if sports cars are dropped

Given the makeup of Maserati’s current model lineup and taking into account the reported departures of both the GranTurismo and GranCabrio models, it might be in the automaker’s best interest to beef up the variants of the Levante SUV if it’s going to “hold the fort” with the likes of the Quattroporte and Ghibli.

We’re facing a real possibility here that Maserati won’t have any sports cars in its lineup for an extended period of time. That’s unbecoming of a performance brand like Maserati, but it also tells you the state of the industry when you have a company like Maserati prioritizing an SUV over a sports car. While it’s true that the sedans – the Quattroporte and Ghibli – will remain in the fold, the Levante is really going to be the backbone of Maserati’s lineup in the coming years.

That alone might compel the Italian automaker to add more variety to the Levante’s own lineup. The one that makes the most sense is a high-performance model that the company can pit against the likes of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and the Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Pastore himself said that Maserati won’t have to make too many drastic moves to introduce a high-performance SUV, particularly since it already has an engine that it can drop into the Levante to get the necessary power and performance numbers it needs to compete against other performance oriented SUVs.

I can’t say for certain that it’s going to happen, but if both the GranTurismo and GranCabrio are going to be on hiatus, the chances of seeing a high performance Levante SUV increases.

Current Maserati Levante models:

Maserati Levante 350 hp Maserati Levante S 430 hp Maserati Levante Diesel 275 hp
Engine Layout Petrol 600 V6, twin-turbo - direct injection (GDI) Petrol 600 V6, twin-turbo - direct injection (GDI) Turbodiesel 600 V6 common rail
Displacement (cc) 2,979 2,979 2,987
Max. Power 350 HP @ 5,750 RPM 430 HP @ 5,750 RPM 275 HP @ 4,000 RPM
Max. Torque 368 LB-FT @ 4,500-5,000 RPM 427 LB-FT @ 4,500-5,000 RPM 442 LB-FT @ 2,000-2,600 RPM
0-100 km/h (62 mph) (sec) 6.0 5.2 6.9
Top speed 156 mph 164 mph 143 mph

Read our full review on the Maserati Levante here.

Source: Autocar

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: