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Maserati electrifies its best-selling SUV

“YOU KNOW, ever since we took over in 2020, there have been a lot of changes in Maserati in terms of branding, in terms of visibility,” said Modena Motorsports President Sam Verzosa in an exclusive interview with this writer. He stated that fun runs were staged in the “north and south,” along with the “largest caravan” of Maserati vehicles — and a lot of “private events.”

The executive attributed these activities to a subsequent sales growth. “Sales were improved dramatically,” he underscored.

Now, the official distributor of Maserati in the Philippines has brought in the electrified version of its best-selling Levante. After making the Ghibli Hybrid available, the Levante GT Hybrid is the first electrified SUV for the Italian luxury vehicle maker.

Power comes from a four-cylinder, two-liter engine supplemented by a 48-volt hybrid system. The setup delivers 330ps and 450Nm of torque delivered from 2,250rpm. Available in all-wheel drive, the new Levante Hybrid boasts brisk performance — a standstill-to-100kph time of six seconds, onward to a top rate of over 240kph.

Maserati revealed that the Levante GT Hybrid can save as much as 20% of fuel over its non-hybrid brethren. Part of it can be explained by an energy recuperation scheme that generates power from deceleration and braking. Another advantage is a lightweight setup compared to the six-cylinder variants, and better weight distribution — with the battery placed in the rear, without compromising load capacity.

To look the part of the environment-conscious car that it is, the Levante GT Hybrid boasts blue accents such as on the signature three side air ducts, brake calipers, and C-pillar logo. The embroidered seams in the seats are also in blue.

Maserati sees the Levante GT Hybrid as another piece of evidence that the brand is “(pressing) ahead into a future in which all new Trident models will be electrified.” Still, officials from Modena emphasized that the brand will continue to aim for improved performance while staying faithful to its values — “delivering speed and agility while saving on fuel and reinforcing… dedication to driving pleasure and luxury.” Part of what engineers focused on, for instance, is keeping the distinctive sporty engine roar of the vehicle.

The Levante GT Hybrid is distinctively in the here and now as well. It boasts the Maserati Connect program — enabling the constant monitoring of the car’s health. “Maserati Connect will alert the driver when a service is due, improving the customer care experience. With a Smartphone or Smartwatch, drivers can stay in contact with their car via the Maserati Connect App; this is also possible from home via their virtual personal assistant (Amazon Alexa & Google Assist),” said Maserati.

For his part, Mr. Verzosa expressed confidence that the Levante will continue to generate good business for Maserati. “Of course, the Philippines is an SUV country, and the Levante is a sports car, luxury car, and SUV all in one,” he said.

The executive promised that a series of caravans and events — including the launch of the super sports car MC20 — is coming this year. “There’s a lot to look forward to with the brand — and we have a new showroom coming soon on EDSA,” he intimated to “Velocity.” Work on the facility commenced 2020 with the demolition efforts on the existing structure, but the pandemic had overtaken and subsequently impeded progress. Mr. Verzosa shared that the edifice, which stands on a 1,500-sq.m. lot and will boast three floors, is now slated to open its doors next year.

He revealed that the Maserati regional office is also in agreement with Modena Motorsports about expanding the presence of the brand by opening up even more showrooms. Places like Cebu and Davao are being considered.

Again, the main goal is to scale up visibility and presence of the brand, which the executive believes people generally have an idea about. “These are the among most luxurious Italian sports cars; this is what we want people to know — the brand, its history, what the cars are all about. So that’s what we did with the series of events that we did. We invited our friends who are car enthusiasts but were not so familiar with the brand. And when they were introduced, and they tried it for themselves. Now a lot of our friends and car enthusiasts bought Maseratis for themselves already.”

The next step, maintained Mr. Verzosa, involves relying on word of mouth as well — through the good experience of customers with the brand and its vehicles — to further grow the business.

Though by no means a volume seller, Maserati is nonetheless looking at fortifying and solidifying the business in the country. “From a visibility and branding standpoint, definitely you will really see more Maserati in the next coming months and years,” underscored Sam Verzosa. “Since we took over operations in the Philippines, Maserati in the Philippines has been one of the top sellers in the Southeast Asian market. So, they are happy with us — and we’re so excited for the future of Maserati here.”

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