Reviews | 09 February 2019

Porsche Cayenne S vs Maserati Levante S vs Jaguar F-Pace

  • Speedy Haulers
    1 / 24 Speedy Haulers

    Grace, pace and space.

    That’s what our contenders in this roundup have to offer in spades, should you have the cash to spare.

    Even if you’re just gawking and not shopping, the sheer visual spectacle of the trio here shows just how accomplished modern sporty SUVs have become.

    The Maserati Levante S is easily the most stylish of the lot. The brand with a trident certainly knows how to dress sharply, and the Levante S in black is as rakish and menacing as a mafia don with a fedora. With its barking exhaust the loudest in the trio, it certainly knows how to make an entrance too.

    No one knows speed like the autobahn-pounding Germans, and the new third-generation Porsche Cayenne delivers that with single-minded precision. The original performance SUV, Porsche has sharpened its Cayenne recipe with the spicier S version – a comfortable, lightning-quick speed demon which eats up the miles, and the yardstick by which other SUVs are measured against.

    Elegant brutishness is what you get should you cast your eyes over the Jaguar F-Pace, livened up here in R-Sport trim. It’s Jaguar’s first SUV but it has lost none of the sporting abilities that Jags are known for. It’s quiet, comfortable and with the lowest asking price of the three, a bit of a bargain.

    Open your wallets, flip the pages and let’s see which one of the three proves the most compelling.


     

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  • Porsche Cayenne S – Engine
    2 / 24 Porsche Cayenne S – Engine

    Porsche’s 440hp, twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 revs willingly and exhibits infinitesimal turbo lag when pulling from rest.

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  • Porsche Cayenne S – Gearbox
    3 / 24 Porsche Cayenne S – Gearbox

    The pin-sharp engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic, which changes gears seamlessly and instantaneously when you manually shift.

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  • Maserati Levante S – Engine
    4 / 24 Maserati Levante S – Engine

    Ferrari builds Maserati’s 430hp, twin-turbo 3-litre V6. It’s smooth, responsive, and sonorous when you bury your right foot deeper.

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  • Maserati Levante S – Gearbox
    5 / 24 Maserati Levante S – Gearbox

    Swapping cogs is handled by an 8-speed automatic that can feel slightly hesitant at times.

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  • Jaguar F-Pace – Engine
    6 / 24 Jaguar F-Pace – Engine

    Jaguar’s smooth and punchy 335hp, supercharged 3-litre V6 may be the weakest, but still gives you the grunt at the low end when you need it the most.

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  • Jaguar F-Pace – Gearbox
    7 / 24 Jaguar F-Pace – Gearbox

    Its 8-speed gearbox shifts smoothly and effortlessly. Shame that it only lets you manually change gears in Sport mode.

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  • Porsche Cayenne S – Ride & Handling
    8 / 24 Porsche Cayenne S – Ride & Handling

    Its ride is never overly harsh even in Sport mode, but can’t beat the F-Pace for overall comfort. Scalpel-sharp steering is the most precise of all three, and the Cayenne S changes direction quickly and efficiently, with excellent feedback. Turn-ins are clean and linear, with little to no body roll.

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  • Maserati Levante S – Ride & Handling
    9 / 24 Maserati Levante S – Ride & Handling

    Its handling isn’t as sharp as the Porsche’s, but it nonetheless offers tractable, keen steering. A decently comfortable ride in Normal mode becomes somewhat harsh when you press the Sport button.

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  • Jaguar F-Pace – Ride & Handling
    10 / 24 Jaguar F-Pace – Ride & Handling

    F-Pace has the nicest and most cosseting ride of the pack. It glides over bumps and smooths out road imperfections, keeping you well-insulated from the outside. Its steering is slightly rigid, but you’ll always know what the front end is doing.

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  • Porsche Cayenne S – Cockpit
    11 / 24 Porsche Cayenne S – Cockpit

    The highest-quality cockpit of the trio is also the most spacious, and the only one with grab handles along the centre console. Piano-black trim is nice but attracts fingerprints, and the infotainment looks cool but can be fiddly to navigate.

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  • Maserati Levante S – Cockpit
    12 / 24 Maserati Levante S – Cockpit

    Sportiest and most driver-focussed contender has paddle shifters “correctly” fixed on the steering column, and a striking red and black leather theme. The infotainment unit has many functions, but its interface is the least intuitive here.

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  • Jaguar F-Pace – Cockpit
    13 / 24 Jaguar F-Pace – Cockpit

    Cockpit would have felt as premium as the others’ if not for some hard plastics. The infotainment system’s graphics are prettier than the Levante’s, but the menu loading times are slower than expected.

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  • Porsche Cayenne S – Meters
    14 / 24 Porsche Cayenne S – Meters

    Digital screens flanking the tachometer look the sleekest, and can display info such as GPS and oil temperature. The graphics are the prettiest, too.

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  • Maserati Levante S – Meters
    15 / 24 Maserati Levante S – Meters

    Speedometer and tachometer are easier to read than the F-Pace’s and have the nicest needle design of the three SUVs.

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  • Jaguar F-Pace – Meters
    16 / 24 Jaguar F-Pace – Meters

    Jag’s instrument panel is the least driver-friendly due to the speedometer’s differing digit sizes and the relatively smaller centre display.

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  • Porsche Cayenne S – Backseat
    17 / 24 Porsche Cayenne S – Backseat

    Roomiest backseat in this company is the plushest, and feels the most solidly constructed, too. This SUV is also the only one with optional rear climate zones.

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  • Maserati Levante S – Backseat
    18 / 24 Maserati Levante S – Backseat

    Legroom here is almost on a par with the Jaguar’s, but certainly not as spacious as the Cayenne’s. It can be tight for three abreast, but headroom is surprisingly good despite the sloping roofline.

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  • Jaguar F-Pace – Backseat
    19 / 24 Jaguar F-Pace – Backseat

    F-Pace’s rear bench is very comfortable, and offers good thigh support and headroom. Just like the Levante S, the F-Pace also offers gadget-users two USB ports and a 12-volt socket for charging their devices.

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  • Porsche Cayenne S – Boot
    20 / 24 Porsche Cayenne S – Boot

    Cayenne’s 770-litre boot easily swallows bulky and heavy cargo thanks to its wide aperture and optional air suspension, which lets you lower the boot’s loading height.

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  • Maserati Levante S – Boot
    21 / 24 Maserati Levante S – Boot

    Levante’s 580-litre volume is the smallest of the group, but still comes with a useful 12-volt socket, tethering points and elastic straps to help secure bottles and other loose items.

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  • Jaguar F-Pace – Boot
    22 / 24 Jaguar F-Pace – Boot

    F-Pace’s 650-litre boot is the only one with handy backrest release levers. It comes with a 12-volt socket and almost no load lip, although the aperture is a tad smaller than the other two.

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  • Maserati Levante S, Jaguar F-Pace and Porsche Cayenne S – Keys
    23 / 24 Maserati Levante S, Jaguar F-Pace and Porsche Cayenne S – Keys

    Levante S’s key (left) is the heftiest and most substantial; F-Pace’s fob (middle) is the plainest but the only one which lets you trigger the hazards; Cayenne S’ car-shaped key (right) has the fewest functions but is the nicest to hold.

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  • Last Word
    24 / 24 Last Word

    You buy a premium sporty SUV for three reasons: the ability to carry passengers (and their luggage), comfort for all no matter where you go, and the blazing speed at which you can transport said passengers.

    Our three contenders deliver grace, pace and space in large doses. Even though the cars are volume sellers for their respective brands, the vehicles themselves are well sorted and great fun to drive.

    The Levante S is the most rakish and raucous of the lot. Maserati, keen to sell its sporting prowess in a more practical package, is taking the first steps to build a name synonymous with other sporting luxury stalwarts, and it seems to be working.

    However, some questionable interior choices and an astronomical price tag make it difficult to wholeheartedly recommend to buyers looking for a do-it-all car. But if looks are your thing, the Levante S is your Armani suit of choice.

    The refinement of the Jaguar F Pace R-Sport is hard to ignore. Its punchy engine and refined cabin makes its asking price even easier to swallow. It’s a great car at a great price, but others might look at its Land Rover stablemate and ask whether its worth paying more for the leaping cat.

    The Cayenne S isn’t the most perfect car here either, mostly due to its pricing. At an eye-watering $560,800 as tested, it’s either this – or a five-room HDB flat.

    But disregard the Porsche at your peril. Strip away the options on our test car and the price comes down to a more agreeable $433,988.

    Even though you lose some niceties like the shiny tungsten-carbide Porsche Surface Coated Brakes and Burmester sound system, you’re still left with one of the best handling and capacious SUVs on the road today, bar none. And that is why it wins this test.


    Maserati Levante S review

    Porsche Cayenne S SUV review

    Jaguar F-Pace review

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