The next step in Maserati’s electrification process is a mild-hybrid version of its best-seller.
Entering production in June, the 2021 Maserati Levante Hybrid effectively replaces the diesel.
It’s set to arrive in Australia in the fourth quarter of this year, though pricing has yet to be announced.
The diesel was dropped from the local line-up in 2020 and will be discontinued everywhere else in 2022.
The Levante Hybrid mates a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with a 48V mild-hybrid system and a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission.
A petrol particulate filter is also standard.
Total outputs are 246kW of power at 5750rpm and 450Nm of torque at 4000rpm, with the belt starter generator supplying 9kW of power.
Maserati claims a 0-100km/h time of six seconds, identical to the sprint time of the 257kW/500Nm twin-turbocharged V6-powered Levante 350.
The Levante Hybrid’s powertrain is the same as used in the Ghibli Hybrid, though Maserati says it’s been upgraded to accommodate the Levante’s all-wheel drive system.
The company says to expect a combined fuel economy figure of 10L/100km or possibly better, and promises the Levante Hybrid will offer the low-end torque of the diesel with the smoothness of one of its petrol V6s.
Emissions are a claimed 3-4 per cent better than the diesel and 18 per cent compared to the petrol 350.
The Levante Hybrid’s powertrain is also lighter than that of V6-powered models.
It consists of a belt starter generator that recovers energy during braking and charges the battery in the boot, which in turn powers the engine’s eBooster.
Overall weight is 100kg lighter than the diesel and Maserati says it has a superior 50:50 weight distribution due to the battery’s placement at the other end of the car from the engine.
To distinguish it from other Levante models, Maserati has made liberal use of blue as with the Ghibli Hybrid.
That includes blue brake calipers, blue details on the C-pillar logos, and blue stitching inside the cabin.
The side vents are also finished in anodized blue, while the Levante Hybrid will also offer a new tri-coat metallic blue paint colour, Azzuro Astro.
The Hybrid will debut in Maserati’s new GT trim, which features the GranLusso trim’s exterior detailing such as a chrome-finished grille and front bumper.
Despite the Hybrid name, Maserati claims the electrified Levante still has a distinctive Maserati sound thanks to a specially-tuned exhaust and the addition of resonators.
As on other Levante variants, there’s adjustable air suspension with six different ride heights, plus a limited-slip self-locking differential and all-wheel drive with torque vectoring.
It also features the updates applied to the rest of the Levante range for 2021, including an upgraded 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system running the Android Automotive operating system, a higher-resolution 7.0-inch instrument cluster screen and Maserati’s new Active Driving Assist.
The latter helps keep the vehicle centred in its lane on any well-maintained road at speeds of up to 145km/h, provided you’ve activated the adaptive cruise control.
Maserati expects 20 per cent of the Levante’s sales volumes to consist of the hybrid.
The company said it chose to develop a mild-hybrid Levante as a plug-in hybrid is ‘compromised’ in terms of driveability.
“If you go electric, it’s better off you go full-electric,” said engineer Massimiliano Pezzo.
Maserati plans to do just that with its upcoming Folgore (‘lightning’) electric vehicles.
The brand has committed to electrifying its entire range by 2025, including its MC20 supercar.