The race is a build-up to the Grand National Festival happening this weekend at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool.
Much has been written about the Maserati Levante’s on-road prowess. As a crossover with sport-utility aspirations and Italian DNA, it has the smashing good looks and impressive road-holding mannerisms one would expect from Modena. We certainly enjoyed it last year on the thrilling roads of California’s Monterey Peninsula, but not much is known about its off-road prowess. That’s probably because, despite its ground clearance and all-wheel drive capability, the vast majority of Maserati buyers aren’t going to spend upwards of $95,000 for a fully equipped Levante then get it dirty. That’s what Range Rovers are for.
So Maserati decided to take that leap for everyone by staging an off-road race. The competition for the Levante, however, wouldn’t be the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, the aforementioned Range Rover, or any other vehicle. With England’s Grand National – the most famous National Hunt horse race – set to take place this Saturday near Liverpool, the manufacturer called upon the Skelton brothers to pit horsepower against an actual horse. National Hunt Trainer and Maserati ambassador Dan Skelton would pilot a Levante diesel, while professional Hunt Jockey Harry Skelton would fight the good fight on a horse named Dinnie O.
The battle took place in the Cotswolds of south-central England, and as you might guess, the Levante diesel with its 274-horsepower advantage won the day. Maserati said each brother had a different route to follow, with the Levante taking a longer route through “rough terrain that was unsuitable for horseback.” We watched the video several times, and aside from a few spots that appeared a bit muddy, we’re left wondering exactly what the manufacturer means by rough terrain.
We also can’t help but wonder if this is what Maserati envisions as off-roading for its customers – a short jaunt through the Cotswolds on flat ground, chasing a horse. The Levante is certainly a classy machine, and this is a novel way to connect the brand with arguably one of the greatest horse races in the world. But color us a bit underwhelmed at Maserati's attempt to give its CUV some backwoods cred.