Livin' Levante loco with the new Maserati driver training programme
Brenwin Naidu samples the Italian brand's exclusive new form of tuition
It is not every day one sees a Maserati. Not even in Sandton, where the richest square mile on the continent is found. Could the allure of the famed trident emblem be eclipsed by the surfeit of more cash-flush manufacturers offering similarly exotic wares?
You have to face it: the product offensive from this brand is a bit… dated. The GranTurismo coupé and roofless GranCabrio, while gorgeous, are ancient. I think Moses had one – traded it on because the truculent eight-cylinder soundtrack frightened the sheep.
MOTORING PODCAST | Cargumentative: Gymkhana life & best advice
And what about the Quattroporte and Ghibli? Not sure you could convincingly say that the German contenders in this sphere would take second place in objective comparisons.
Alas, we cannot forget that a particularly relevant package is found in the Levante – sport-utility vehicles are as germane in this elite tier of the market as they are in the humbler C-segment.
The Levante was our steed for a day as we signed-up to participate in a driver training programme launched by the brand. It is by invitation only, says Maserati: you have to own one of its products in order to be considered. Pity, because there are countless people on our roads who could benefit from such an experience. Overzealous Volkswagen Polo Vivo driver, that means you.
But the day was not just about reporting back on the kind of activities customers can expect, should they pay for such a course. Maserati also sought to plant seeds in our minds about the nuanced nature of its client base.
This is how I understand it. Yes, the demographic knows that Maserati products are possibly a bit idiosyncratic and not entirely at the cutting-edge of innovation. But the inherent soul, charisma and verve with which its wares go about business remains a strong enough reason to opt-in. Look, it’s an automotive cliché you’ve seen applied to other left-field brands from Italy. But man, it rings true in that sweet, perfect moment when underfoot lies a throttle pedal connected to a truly mellifluous 2979cc V6.
Such is the case in our Levante. We found ourselves at the helm of the standard model that slots beneath the more powerful S version and alongside the diesel derivative. Its sonorous note, tidy reflexes and pleasant ride quality (thanks to those plump tyres) gives it more than a smidgen of good sense as well.
The first task on our agenda was a gradient test, in which we felt the work of the hill-descent control system in the Levante. If you live in the hills of Tyrol in Northern Italy, it will be nice to know your luxury SUV can trek down and up steep descents and ascents.
Next up, a stint on the high-speed oval. Needless to say, the car felt appropriately steady at speeds well north of 120km/h. But what you need to brace for, is the braking demonstration. As a motoring scribe, I have been lucky enough to have witnessed such on many occasions. And it is always jarring – bearing in mind the general lack of concern for following distances on our roads. Lastly, it was off to the skidpan, where we put the all-wheel drive Q4 system through its paces. Or rather, not. The chance to go sideways in something with such a hallowed emblem on its prow might be impossible to resist.
If you are among the Maserati-owning elite, there is little doubt that this sharpening of trident-operating skills will go amiss.
- Call 0800 0600 77 for more information on the Maserati driver training programme.