The trend towards luxury SUVs makes sense. These vehicles are as opulent as the best luxury sedans and cabriolets, but have the added benefits of better ride height and off-road capabilities. They also tend to have more passenger room, making them a viable option for high-end buyers with families.

Maserati Levante

The Levante is Maserati’s first SUV, although it has since launched the Trofeo (not yet available in South Africa), and it has quickly become the Italian brand’s top-selling model. Despite retaining some traditional Maserati elements (such as the three air vents on each side of the car and the analogue clock on the dashboard), make no mistake – this vehicle is packed with the latest technology.

Billed as the Gran Turismo of SUVs, the Levante was launched in 2016. The 2018 model has been enhanced, and in line with Maserati’s new strategy (introduced with the Quattroporte in 2017), introduces two distinct new trim options (luxury-focused GranLusso or sports-orientated GranSport) alongside the three existing powertrain versions.

All the Levante models are built around Maserati 3.0-litre V6 engines, including two twin-turbo petrol engine options (Levante and Levante S) and the turbodiesel (Levante Diesel).

The V6 petrol engines come with the latest gasoline direct injection (GDI) and twin-turbo technologies. The maximum power outputs are 430hp for the Levante S (top speed of 264km; 0 to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds) and 350hp for the Levante (max speed 251km/h; 0 to 100km/h in 6.0 seconds).

The Levante Diesel option comes with a common-rail, direct-injection V6 turbodiesel, capable of 275hp, a top speed of 230km/h and 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds. All this, Maserati says, while keeping the fuel economy as low as 7.2 litres/100km.

All the Levante models use an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox with four driving modes: normal, ICE (eco mode), sport and off-road. Put the car into sport mode and you’ll hear an immediate difference in sound when you accelerate – now it really sounds like you’re driving a Maserati!

While you may not initially want to take a Maserati bundu-bashing, the vehicle’s all-wheel drive mode might just tempt you to. Maserati says the Levante has been engineered to deliver luxurious comfort on rough roads and great handling on low-grip surfaces, with Q4, its intelligent all-wheel drive system and torque vectoring system.

The Levante’s technology features include a state-of-the-art infotainment system with 8.4” touchscreen display, adaptive cruise control with stop & go, forward collision warning plus (FCW plus), advanced brake assist (ABA), lane departure warning system and surround view camera (which even gives you an impression of the car from above).

Put the car into sport mode and you’ll hear an immediate difference in sound when you accelerate – now it really sounds like you’re driving a Maserati!

The classy interior offers various customisation options, beyond opting for the GanLusso (with its exclusive Ermenegildo Zegna silk upholstery, Radica open-pore dashboard wood, leather steering wheel and Harman Kardon sound system) or GranSport trim (with its sport seats with integrated anti-whiplash headrests and the power-adjustable sport steering wheel with standard gearshift paddles). My personal favourite extras are the remote start feature, which never fails to draw a reaction, and the electrically lockable glovebox.

Pricing on the Levante starts at R1 650 000 (Levante Diesel) and R1 950 000 (Levante S).

Porsche Cayenne Turbo

The new Porsche Cayenne Turbo is the flagship model in the Cayenne model line-up, now in its third generation. The Cayenne has proved a bestseller, with more than 770 000 sold since it first launched in 2002.

Porsche says the car has been redeveloped and is even closer to its roots as a Porsche sports car than its predecessor, with a four-litre V8 biturbo engine that delivers 550hp. It accelerates from zero to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds (3.9 seconds with the Sport Chrono package) and reaches a top speed of 286km/h. All the new Cayenne models come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive.

The new Cayenne Turbo also offers improved driving dynamics thanks to a combination of innovative technologies, including active aerodynamics (including the adaptive roof spoiler – the first SUV to have one), self-levelling three-chamber air suspension, wider rear tyres and new high-performance brakes (Porsche surface coated brakes, aka PSCB, which come standard on the Turbo model).

The new Cayenne Turbo is easily recognisable by its twin tailpipes and at night by its double-row front-light modules.

Interestingly, the car has differing tyre sizes at the front (285/40) and rear (315/35), which Porsche says is an idea borrowed from sports car construction that translates into better longitudinal and lateral power delivery. The car has an active chassis with three-chamber air suspension that ensures the Turbo can perform exceptionally in every environment.

On a design front, the new Cayenne Turbo is easily recognisable by its twin tailpipes and at night by its double-row front-light modules. A completely new interior offers both improved sportiness and comfort.

One of the aspects of the new Cayenne range that’s been catching buyers’ interest is the fact that the vehicle comes fully networked and connected as standard. Features and services include Amazon Music, the smart home app Nest and Radio Plus, which offers a combination of conventional reception and online streaming, online navigation (including real-time traffic information) and an LTE telephone module with integrated SIM card, plus a Wi-Fi hotspot, four USB ports, and new Porsche Connect services. Drivers can access a wide variety of digital features and services via the Porsche Connect App. 

The new Porsche Cayenne Turbo sells for R2 158 000, with the three-year/100 000km Porsche drive plan included.