The Maranello-built V6 direct injection engine growls along the Beaverbrook driveway. Pure aural satisfaction from these delicious twin turbos. The Levante S GranSport steering wheel is easy to use and has a range of multi-function buttons with the speedometer and rev counter housed in a leather-clad binnacle and gently backlit for easier reading.
Alongside the divine engine noise, additional aural accompaniment – as we race across the Surrey Hills – are courtesy of the 8.4” infotainment display and the Harman Kardon Premium Sound System: 14 speakers and 900W. As you’d expect, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and there are USB charging ports in both front and rear cabins.
As we move up the 8-speed auto gears (brushed chrome paddles are here for purists) the Levante S GranSport segues through the ratios cleanly and smoothly. The car starts in Normal mode by default, with the Sport and Off-Road modes – and the Corsa mode in the Trofeo – transforming the Levante from a sporty, dynamic GT to a capable and comfortable off-roader at the touch of a button.
Acceleration is around 5.2 seconds to reach 100km/h (62mph). And she swiftly climbs through the revs to a galloping pace. Very respectable for a car that weighs over 2.2 tonnes. The Levante S GranSport’s top speed is factory tested at 264km/h (164 mph). You’ll rarely get the chance to put this to the test on a UK motorway, but I took her to 90+ on our test drive. It’s all too easy to nudge up the speedo in the Levante and forget the cameras hiding in laybys. You have been warned
Safety features include front and side airbags, and the very useful Lane Keep Assist which buzz when I drift too close to the white lines. Other safety elements include a blind spot warning and ‘forward collision avoidance assist’. Despite being a big beast, parking the Levante S GranSport is easy thanks to the surround view camera system, which gives a useful 360-degree view. And I’m thankful for the front and rear parking sensors. Heated wing mirrors come into their own on this frosty morning as do the integrated LED indicator lights.
Adaptive full LED Matrix headlights are available for the first time in the Levante range. They include a front digital camera mounted behind the rear view mirror. And keeping eye on your vehicle is easy thanks to Maserati’s NavTrak vehicle tracking system with Automatic Driver Recognition and Remote Inhibition.
Parking the Levante S at the end of our drive was sad, but the fun isn’t over yet as we are due in the Garden House Restaurant and our Truffle Risotto cookery lesson with chef Francesco Mazzei.
Maserati apron on, pan in hand, I add more stock and generous amounts of Ferrari Brut sparkling wine. The key here is slow cooking – allowing the stock to reduce each time so the risotto is cooked slowly. Oddly I’m averse to adding sufficient salt and am the proud winner of the booby prize. Champagne risotto anyone?!
Happy with our creations we head to the Conservatory for a fabulous Italian feast. Sloe Gin Cured Loch Duart Salmon followed by Puglian Burrata and Blood orange. The tagliatelle of roasted shallot with cima di rapa, black garlic and aged pecorino is divine. And the roasted Bowgrave suckling pig amazing. Somehow we found room for vanilla and cinnamon poached William Pears. Thank you chef! I recommend booking a cookery course here.
An epicurean 48-hour feast of drive, design and gourmet tasting, all in the exquisite surrounds of magical Beaverbrook. Which brings me to Maserati’s core brand values: Design. Exclusivity. Performance and Signature Sound. All four boxes ticked for the outstanding Maserati GranTurismo MC and Levante S GranSport.
Maserati GranTurismo MC
Engine: Naturally aspirated petrol V8 fuel injection; Displacement: 4,691cc Max Power: 338 / 460 @ 7,000 CO2: 331 Acceleration: 0-100km/h (62mph): 4.7; Top speed: 301km/h (187 mph) Gearbox: 6-speed ZF Auto Transmission: RWD; Consumption: | Combined: 19.7 mpg
Maserati Levante S GranSport
Engine: Petrol V6 twin turbo fuel injection Displacement: 2979cc Max Power: 316/430 @ 5,750 CO2: 273-282; Acceleration: 0-100km/h: 5.2 Top speed: 264kh/h (164 mph) Gearbox: 8-speed ZF Automatic Transmission: 4WD Consumption: Combined: 20.9-22.4 mpg