Publisher's note: Normally, the cars you read about here at MikeHagertyCars.com are loaned to us by the press fleets of the various manufacturers for several days. Seven is typical. Occasionally, we'll get a longer period of time, and sometimes it'll only be three or four days. Our "30 Minutes With" series features cars we spent half an hour driving during the just-concluded Western Automotive Journalists Media Day in Half Moon Bay, California.
Needless to say, these are quick drives and brief impressions that we hope to be able to flesh out with a full review of the vehicle at some point in the near future.
Media Days is a driving program, with journalists taking cars from the staging area at our host hotel, the Aristocrat, down Highway 1 to Highway 84, onto Stage Road (named for the former stagecoach stop still---but barely---standing on the corner), past the historic (since 1889), socially-aware and only-in-Northern-California funky San Gregorio General Store, through some marvelous twists and turns that lead back to Highway 1 and ultimately back to the hotel.
At the hotel, support teams from Page One Automotive and DriveShop sanitize the vehicles as they return while journalists choose their next vehicle from a total of 27 cars, trucks and SUVs provided by their manufacturers. This goes on for eight hours on day one, minus a 90-minute lunch break, and for three hours on day two. For me, that was enough time to drive 11 vehicles that I hadn't driven yet.
My second drive of day one was in the 2021 Maserati Levante GranLusso.
The Germans have Porsche Cayennes and Mercedes-AMG GLE 53s, the Brits have the Jaguar F-Pace SVR, and the Italians have the Maserati Levante S, GTS and Trofeo---all very different interpretations of the theme, but all with some major horsepower under the hood.
But Maserati also makes a less frantic Levante. One that is still quick by any reasonable standard, but which focuses more on rich, Italian luxury. That's the GranLusso.
The 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 in the 2021 Maserati Levante GranLusso makes 345 horsepower and 369 pounds per foot of torque. It's quick, certainly, at 5.8 seconds from zero to 60, but it's not hypercar-fast like the more powerful twin-turbo V8s in the GTS and Trofeo.
Still---the engine, built by Ferrari, makes the loveliest snarl when you step on it and numbers higher than 60 start showing up on the speedometer very quickly after that. Fuel economy is remarkably good for an Italian performance marque---an EPA-estimated 16 miles per gallon city/22 highway. Gear shifts are courtesy of an 8-speed ZF automatic with manual mode.
And, as you'd expect, the Levante is unshakable on winding roads. You'd swear the exhaust note was saying "more, more".
Meantime, you're reveling in one of the nicest interiors on this or any other planet. The Levante GranLusso features buttery-soft leather seats with inserts from legendary designer Ermenegildo Zegna. Read more about it here.
The base price of the 2021 Maserati Levante GranLusso is $83,890. The window sticker is at the end of this review, so you can see the standard equipment for yourself.
Extra-cost options were fairly few for a European luxury marque. The tri-coat Bianco Alpi paint was $2,700, Inox sport foot pedals added $200, the high-gloss Ebano wood trim was $500, load floor cargo rails were another $200 and 20-inch Efesto platinum wheels were $1,800. There was also a "climate pack" for $450.
The window sticker doesn't specify shipping, so the price before shipping is $89,470.
As always, half an hour and 20 miles isn't enough to get the full measure of a vehicle, especially one with as many special features as the Levante GranLusso. We're hoping Maserati will make one available for a longer evaluation.