The Maserati Levante gets the Zegna treatment
Last year, Maserati launched the very first SUV in the brand's hundred-year history, the Levante.
Prototypes were tested on the frozen roads of Sweden and the sweltering desert in South Africa; it survived on sand, dirt, ice, and snow. In its first year, it was the highest-selling car for the company.
But is it beautiful? Of course, it's beautiful—really beautiful, particularly in the cabin.
2018 brings the release of two new trims, the GranLusso and the GranSport. The names not-so-subtly hint at the design experience: The Lusso has a more luxurious colour scheme of camel and black, while the Sport harkens back to Maserati's race car history, with primary-coloured touches on the logos and brakes, as well as wider rims.
The trademark elements of Maserati are still in place, assures Giovanni Ribotta, the brand's chief exterior designer. "We have a strong heritage, a strong cultural tradition," he says over the phone from Modena. "We are Italian, we are Maserati. We know who we are."
And who they are can be defined in three main keywords: "elegance, sportiness, functionality," according to Elisa Nuzzo, the chief designer of colour and material. That holds true even when designing the brand's first SUV. "The sportiness is not too bold," she explains. "It is a sportiness that is refined, that is pure."
How is that accomplished? The Levante offers top-of-the-line interior amenities like dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, multiple electric outlets, cruise control, the most legroom in its class, and seats that can move 12 ways, heat your bottom and, via tiny holes in the leather, ventilate and cool you.
Then there are the special little extras. Maserati partnered with a fellow Italian luxury powerhouse, the menswear designer Ermenegildo Zegna. "We started working together in 2013, before the centennial of our brand," Ribotta says. "It was a unique moment to remind the world who we are, and where we are going. We took the opportunity to celebrate."
The communion continues with the GranLusso, which features Zegna silks in the car's seat covers, door panels, roof lining, ceiling light, and sunshades. "We made silk work as an automotive material. It's a new kind of silk, not like what you wear with a suit," says Nuzzo. "That wouldn't work."
To toughen up the silks and make them more durable for your bottom sliding into and out of the seat every day, a micro-chevron weave of vertical rolls was hand-stitched into the centre inserts. On the doors, sunshades, and roof lining, the silk jersey gets a diagonal roll pattern with alternating rib embroidery. The buttery soft leather is another luxurious element of the interiors, from the leather-clad steering wheel to the trim around the Old World analogue clock in the dashboard.
While Maserati allows for total design customization, from 13 exterior colours and 26 interior colour combinations, the brand has some heritage suggestions. "Black goes with everything. Tangoes with luxury. Red is a signature for sport," says Nuzzo.