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Premium SUVs in strong demand

Our love affair with SUV’s continues and in January nearly as many SUV’s were sold as passenger cars. Premium level SUV’s are in strong demand so the arrival of the first shipment of Maserati’s first SUV Levante was eagerly awaited – I drove it this week on and off the racetrack and early fears that the Italian sports car maker could not replicate its sports DNA in an SUV were quickly allayed. Levante is clever in many ways– good looking and distinctly Maserati in appearance. Three models – the entry Levante at $140,000, and my choice the better-equipped Sport and Luxury variants at $160,000 each. One engine – a 3.0-litre V6 turbo with a massive 600Nm of torque and it’s a cracker linked to an 8-speed automatic with manual shift paddles on the top two models. Perfect weight balance helps but a full air suspension with four ride heights and a sophisticated all-wheel drive system gives it enormous polish on road – the big surprise on low profile tyres – a very nice ride. I’m David Berthon

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