In the 20th century, ridicule would have greeted the idea of a sportscar maker designing a 4x4, but today none can ignore the vast potential market that desires a (notional) off-roader. Enter the Maserati Levante.
Like many of its ilk, the Levante contains a good set of tools for off-roading, while giving every impression of being engineered to minimise their impact in the far more likely scenario of the car never going near anything more daunting than a puddle.
For instance, air-sprung suspension with user-selectable ride levels will help the intrepid conquer the odd ploughed field – but one assumes the purpose is to drop the ride height to its minimum on the road to get the best performance from the suspiciously sporting 50-50 weight distribution.
There’s plenty of performance to tap here. The Levante comes with either a 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo delivering either 350hp/430hp, or a 275hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel. The top-spec Levante S does 0-100kph in 5.2 seconds, with a top speed of 264kph.
Inside, the Levante has the usual beautiful Maserati interior, featuring a panoramic electric sunroof and offering such delights as Ermenegildo Zegna silk. It would be a pity to spoil that with muddy boots – not that anyone is going to.
It’s big and it’s clever: the new BMW 7-series
For those who want power and spaciousness without the pretence of exceptional performance, BMW’s new 7-series flagship, the M760Li xDrive V12, ticks all the boxes – except the one marked ‘easy-to-remember name’.
Due to arrive later this year, the turbocharged 60-degree V12 produces 600hp and 800Nm of torque, propelling the heavy cruiser from 0-100kph in under four seconds. Rather than simply taking a 7-series and dropping in a very big engine, the new variant has been tweaked with model-specific tuned suspension that will help it really get the most from all that power.
Part of the M range, the M760Li xDrive V12 has the full array of M-technology, from the genuinely performance enhancing to the purely aesthetic, such as the M Performance steering wheel, illuminated V12 logo and M pedals.
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