Putting the new Maserati models to the test in the North Yorkshire Moors
The unmistakable snarl of the Maserati engine purred through the car as we set off on a sun-drenched drive through the North Yorkshire Moors.
As I sunk into the leather interiors in front of the chrome-ringed dials of the Quattroporte, with its tight grip of the road and its distinctive Trident symbol gleaming on the front of its shark nose, it was obvious I wasn’t in my usual mode of transport anymore.
It’s not often my regular car draws any glances on the road, but the Maserati’s combination of sportiness and luxury is one that commands attention. And if they don’t see you, they’ll certainly hear you with that deep growl.
Though it sounds terribly sporty and a model in which the driver is positively pampered, the very name (meaning four door) is the giveaway that this is a family saloon, albeit a fancier one than most.
The model, the flagship of the Maserati brand, has been relaunched for 2017 with an exterior restyling, refinement of the interior, and additional high-tech features. But it still has that classic Italian style and elegance that has helped this model stand the test of time since it was first designed in 1963.
When it debuted at the Turin Motor Show that year it was the first time a Maserati racing engine had been placed inside a saloon and it still combines those worlds of sport and sleek practicality today.
I’d been asked to get behind the wheel as part of a press day to promote the new models, built by the brand’s team in Modena, Italy.
We were given a driving route which meandered through the Moors, past RAF Fylingdales and along the Whitby coast in which we could put the model and its 19” wheels through their paces.
It handles exceptionally well on the twisting roads of the Moors and takes a corner likes it’s on rails.
Stuck behind one of those tractors that move at a glacial pace? No problem. Switch to sport mode, a fluid shift which really shows off the model’s sportier side, and the three litre twin turbo V6-powered diesel engine (made in the Ferrari factory, no less) sails you past smoothly, whilst giving the engine something to really growl about. If Maserati had a soundtrack, this would be it.
This is an automatic car that’s more than confident in its high-tech abilities, but if the driver wants to really take control gear-shifts can be controlled manually, with either the elongated gearshift paddles besides the steering column or by using the gear lever.
Despite this being a larger car than I’m used to driving I didn’t feel as though I was perched too high in the seat, thanks to the 12-way adjustable front seats you feel as though it’s been moulded to your shape.
For those after more personalisation, however, there are luxury and sport options for more customisation.
If the majestic Maserati itself isn’t enough to keep you entertained, the new model boasts a 8.4” high-resolution screen on its central dashboard. The new infotainment system has all the bells and whistles and is compatible with both the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring functions.
After a morning on the magnificent Moors, we swapped the acceleration of the Quattroporte for the strength of the Levante for an off-roading session behind the historic stone walls of the Duncombe Park estate in Helmsley.
Leaving the mighty country pile behind us, and after raising the suspension, we headed for the tricky terrain of this vast estate.
The Levante, named after a wind in the Mediterranean, is the brand’s first ever SUV in its 103-year history. Launched at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, it’s enabled Maserati to access the largest luxury segment in the world as part of the brands’s global growth plan.
Though it still features the typical Maserati approach to craftsmanship, including wood and plush leather interior trim details and a muscular coupe-style body, it’s been built with competitive off-road capabilities. In keeping with Maserati’s ethos on personalisation, interiors can be tailored to individual tastes, with no less than 28 interior colour combinations.
Standard highlights, however, include an 8.4” touch screen, base audio system with eight speakers, cruise control, dual zone climate system, wipers with rain sensor and keyless entry.
The driver can choose between four drive modes: normal, I.C.E, (increased control and efficiency) sport and off-road.
The SUV, and its 21” wheels (there’s a range of size options) laughed in the face of the estate’s mud tracks with a firm grip on the ascent of the steep gradients and a sophisticated hill descent function which gives the driver nothing to think about but the wheel.
As Maserati aims to build on its racing heritage, this may be the model to drive the brand forward whilst still maintaining its Italian charisma.