Maserati Levante-01

These are the first official images of the production Maserati Levante, the first SUV in the marque’s over 100-year history. The Levante, long in the making and vital to the brand’s future, will make its world debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

Maserati says that the design of the Levante features clear associations with the marque and its distinctive Italian character. Signatures that are present include the familiar face and grille (with BMW X-style ‘third-eye’), the three-hole air vents on the front wings, the trapezoidal C-pillar with the “Saetta” logo and frameless door windows. The rear screen is very tapered (something they tried to mask on test mules), and quad exhausts hint at performance.

No interior pics were released, but spyshots from earlier this month will give you a peek at the cabin.

Maserati Levante-02

No performance figures for now, or the exact identity of the engines, but the Levante will be available with Euro 6 petrol and diesel units, paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission specially calibrated for the SUV. Also in are electronic suspension with controlled damping and air springs, which can be set on several levels, and Q4 all-wheel drive.

The Italian brand says that the Levante’s chassis is designed to combine the outstanding on-road performance typical of every Maserati with unrivalled handling even on very low-grip surfaces, and excellent off-road performance and ride.

The first production cars have already come off the assembly line at the Mirafiori plant in Turin, with the SUV’s launch planned for spring in Europe, to be followed by the rest of the world late this year.

GALLERY: Maserati Levante spyshots