We usually get some form of itinerary or confirmation email when invited on press trips. Sure, I’ve definitely been sent my international flight ticket as I’ve literally been on the way to the airport before, but that’s about as close as I’ve ever cut it.
In the case of the national launch for the new Maserati Levante 350 last month, James and I merely had a flight pop up in our smartphone app. That’s it. Partly our fault, I suppose, someone should have chased things up somewhere along the line, but before we knew it we were on a Rex turbo-prop inland from Sydney to Bathurst to sample the new Maserati Levante 350 en route to the nation’s capital.
Which Maserati Levante, you ask? Turns out we didn’t even know ourselves, and boy, did we get it horrendously wrong. For the first six hours of the launch, we assumed we were off to Mt Panorama to drive the new Levante GTS, the brand’s flagship twin-turbo V8 that has recently launched in North America.
Suspicions arose the moment James applied the accelerator. With the Levante pouncing a tad slower than either of us had suspected from a twin-turbo V8. The uncertainty went relatively unspoken until wide-eyed glances were exchanged between us when the penny finally dropped at our pre-dinner briefing.
We were in Bathurst to drive the brand new Maserati Levante 350, the new entry point into the Levante bloodline and the most accessible offering from the Italian luxury automaker yet. All the pieces of the confounding puzzle finally came together and made simple, almost comical sense.
Levante sales make up 50% of the brand’s volume in Australia, and they’re clearly expecting that momentum to continue with this latest move to increase the affordability of their highly popular SUV’s. As I hinted at earlier, the Maserati Levante 350 is cheap enough to make anyone in the luxury SUV market’s ear’s prick up.
From bang on $125k, you can enter la Famiglia with the foundation model Maserati Levante 350. Still sporting a punchy V6 and a soundtrack to win a few nods from our team of journalists, it’s a compelling package when you consider the badge, but a considerable leap to the top spec Sport and Luxury offerings.
Those offerings are the GrandSport and the GrandLusso – the same drivetrain but different aesthetics both inside and out – which share the same price tag of $159,990. Yeah, we know what you’re thinking, that’s $35k for either a sportier look or a Zegna interior respectively. A fair amount of coin for what we perceived to be not a whole lot more.
Our breezy warm up around Mount Panorama was followed by a convoy through the exceptional Bathurst hinterland, testing the Maserati Levante 350 through tight mountain passes and sweeping country roads. There’s a tasty serving of torque and a capable all-wheel-drive system that provides a dynamic and enjoyable squirt when you’re in the mood.
A pleasurable ride, a premium aesthetic and an exclusive badge are exactly what you’re paying for in the Maserati Levante 350. At $125k, the Maserati Levante 350 presents as an accessible piece of luxury kit with an undeniable X factor. Be sure to check out our video above for our full thoughts on the car!
Check out the Levante lineup at Maserati’s website.