The diesel engine in question was already serving in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, after all - so why wouldn't it be good enough for a Maserati SUV? Anyone who's sampled it in a Ghibli saloon could tell you. Because even by diesel standards it's not especially powerful, smooth, responsive, pleasant-sounding or anything else you might want the engine in your new Maserati to be. Honestly, as V6 diesel's go, it's just a bit average.
The most crucial thing this 2018-model-year revision does is to correct that beast of a dropped clanger. Maserati UK now offers the Levante in both 275hp V6 diesel and 430hp V6 S twin-turbo petrol forms, with the entry-level 350hp petrol engine a possibility for addition to the range later still. And I reckon most Maserati owners would prefer that narrow-angle 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol motor (made by Ferrari, but different from the F154-family 2.9-litre V6 that powers the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio) to the diesel in much the same way that most Hollywood A-listers would prefer to find out that the Harvey who'd just turned up uninvited to their after-show party was the one from the insurance adverts - and not the other one.
Come to think of it, you'll actually need to select it twice. That's assuming you want to get the most involving drive out of this car, because it takes two presses of the car's 'sport' button to get the powertrain, the height-adjustable air suspension, the 'skyhook' adaptive dampers and the car's new electromechanical power steering setup - which is the only significant mechanical change on the car for this 2018 version - all to adopt their most purposeful settings. And when they do, the Levante is transformed from something that's not far shy of, say, a Range Rover Sport for rolling comfort, luxury and refinement into something that's equally un-shy of a Porsche Cayenne for driver appeal.
The new power steering system's pretty good, too. Maserati had to swap the old hydraulic setup for a rack-mounted electromechanical one in order to integrate the semi-autonomous lane-keeping and crash avoidance and mitigation functions that are becoming increasingly common on the Levante's luxury SUV competitors. If you can get these things on a Volvo XC90 after all, why not on a Maserati? The new rack has also allowed Maserati's engineers to tune the car's steering to be lighter and easier-going at manouvring speeds, and then heavier than the old 'HPAS' in sport mode. There's notably less feedback of cornering load through it than you used to get through the Levante's rim, but even allowing for that you're not missing out on much.
So configured, and with an engine designed and built by Ferrari rather than the company that puts diesels into London taxis, the Maserati Levante finally drives, sounds and generally seems like the car it should have been from the outset, at least as far as UK buyers are concerned. And more proper driver's cars in amongst the comfy, pleasant, capable but fairly soulless machines that dominate the luxury SUV market can only be a good thing.
Inspired? Buy a Maserati Levante here
MASERATI LEVANTE S GRANSPORT
Engine: 2979cc, V6, twin-turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 430@5,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 428@5000rpm
Top speed: 164mph