Drive Wire: February 17, 2016

A Maserati SUV, a redesigned Mazda, Renault's new concept, a mini Tesla, and a down under derby!

Hey guys, it’s Christina Thompson and this is Drive Wire for Wednesday, February 17.

In luxury SUV news, the Maserati Levante is preparing to break cover in Geneva in March, and we have some new specs. The Levante is looking like a Maserati SUV should, a little shorter and a chunk wider than the mid-sized Ghibli. Since it’ll be a road-biased fast truck expect the Levante to use the Ghibli’s drivetrain, along with its 3-liter V-6 and 3.8 liter V-8 engines. The V-8 is expected to pump out more than 500 horsepower and will hit 60 mph in around 5 seconds. By using those engines and deviating from the planned Jeep drivetrains, the Levante is taking longer than expected and we are totally ok with that.

In down-to-earth SUV news, the newly redesigned 2016 Mazda CX-9 has begun production and it’s a hefty serving of family hauler. The first redesign for this model in nine years gives it a new more efficient “Skyactiv” turbo four making 227 horsepower. Additional features such as available all-wheel-drive, leather seats, and a bunch of other add-ons seem to be catering to the North American buyer. We’re still waiting on pricing for Mazda’s big boy, but expect an announcement on that before the CX-9 goes on sale later this spring.

In exotic news, Renault has taken the lid off the new Alpine concept and it’s kind of a stunner. It takes design cues from the 1969 Alpine A110, which is a great place to get your lines, and will be powered by a turbo four. Although Renault has yet to reveal a lot of info, the company expects the coupe to hit 62 miles per hour in a speedy 4.5 seconds. Renault intends the Alpine to be a competitor to the Alfa Romeo 4C and Porsche Cayman, tough targets, but appropriate for a relaunch of the Alpine brand. If all goes well, we’ll see this Alpine later this year.

Today’s gear features a Tesla “S” for the smallest for mini-techies in your family. It’s actually made by Radio Flyer, a toy company much older than Elon Musk’s toy company, and features working headlights and a front-trunk so the youngest Illuminati can carry their artisanal lunches to their learning academies. Unlike the adult version, this Tesla is an incredibly affordable $500 and it’s not backordered yet.

In today’s ridiculous video, we have the glorious return of Australia’s Dinghy Derby! This seemingly young sport is everything we want to see in powerboat racing - teamwork, ingenuity, and unnecessary risk taking. If this event took place anywhere near us, we would absolutely never get work done. Hey Red Bull, there are plenty of swamps in the U.S.

That’s it for today’s edition of Drive Wire. For more, be sure to come back to thedrive.com, and follow us @thedrive on all your favorite social media platforms.