Maserati has bolstered the Levante range with the Trofeo, a V8-engined beast that’s one of the fastest SUVs ever built
While the rest of the Levante range has to make do with fairly average V6 petrol and diesel engines from the group, the Trofeo was blessed with one of the best. The 3.8-litre V8 was borrowed from Maranello and has been re-engineered and upgraded following its fitment in the Quattroporte GTS and now delivers 439 kW at 6 250 r/min and 730 Nm. The fitment of this engine and the way the car has been built around this power plant results in a package completely different to the rest of the range. This is a pure performance SUV and it delivers those thrills in an unashamed fashion.
The mighty twin turbo V8 engine has been revised to accommodate the Q4 Intelligent All-Wheel drive system. In order to make space for the drive shaft towards the front axle, Maserati designed a new crankcase with specific crankshaft assembly, new oil pump and auxiliary belt. Considering the power objectives, a simple reconfiguration of the engine software would not be sufficient, the hardware needed to be upgraded, too. Two new parallel twin-scroll turbochargers, one for each cylinder bank, were fitted to provide higher flow performance.
The high tumble cylinder heads were also redesigned and fitted with different camshafts and valves for improved combustion efficiency, higher performance and moderate consumption. Internal parts like pistons and connecting rods were also redesigned to cope with the demands of the bigger turbochargers and more aggressive state of tune. The Levante Trofeo is fitted with the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox used on all the Levante versions and it well known for its versatility and sporty character. The driver has the option to use the gearbox in either automatic or manual mode simply by shifting the lever from right to left. The launch control function can also be activated once in Corsa mode.
This new Corsa driving mode has been introduced to enhance the Levante’s sporty personality and is available in addition to the existing Normal, ICE, Sport and off-road driving modes. Corsa driving mode is exclusive to the Levante Trofeo and allows for faster gearshifts, lower air suspension height levels, sportier Skyhook damping and optimised intelligent all-wheel drive settings. With this sportiest mode activated, the intervention of the traction control and ESP systems is restrained for maximum driving enjoyment.
Transferring power to the road
Often these big, powerful SUVs are great in a straight line but can become hard work to drive quickly in twisty situations. Not this Trofeo. The vehicle carries its weight beautifully, even though it tips the scales at over two tons it turns in beautifully and rewards smooth driver inputs with positive feedback.
The chassis has been meticulously tuned to handle the higher power output with no compromise in terms of long-distance comfort and active safety. Even with the 22-inch rims and Corse mode selected, the ride quality is extremely good one the bumpy backroads of Gauteng and the North West province.
This high level of ride quality and a suite of active safety systems will make the Trofeo an exceptional long-distance cruiser, the perfect embodiment of the GT philosophy.
The Q4 Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive has been designed to deliver a typical Maserati rear-wheel drive experience. Under normal driving conditions, 100 percent of the power is sent to the rear wheels but this can be changed to a 50/50 split within milliseconds when required by loose surfaces. The Air Spring control has been tuned to fit specific characteristics of the fastest ever Levante and is appropriately optimised for each driving mode.
These 22-inch wheels are wrapped in the new Continental SportContact 6 tyre as standard equipment. This ultra-sport tyre substantially contributes to the overall handling package.
The Maserati Integrated Vehicle Control system has been incorporated in the ESP control for the first time in a Levante. IVC uses a smart, feed-forward controller that predicts different driving situations and adapts the engine speed and brakes accordingly, providing impressive driving dynamics, better performance and improved active safety. In the Trofeo, IVC is specifically tuned to decrease understeer tendencies, typical to SUVs resulting in more natural and predictable feedback.
The braking system does a great job on slowly this quick, hefty vehicle. Upfront it features six-piston aluminium monobloc calliper and 380mm ventilated discs, at the rear it is equipped with aluminium floating callipers and 330mm ventilated discs.
Can it go off-road?
The pneumatic system provides six different levels and 75mm height variation from lowest to highest so technically yes. However, it is equipped with 22-inch rims and extremely low profile tyres so off-roading is best reserved for good gravel roads.
If looks could kill
In line with the new powerplant, the Trofeo received a number of exterior upgrades. The restyling was mainly focused on the lower front fascia and rear bumper but also includes carbon fibre design cues and 22-inch forged aluminium Orione wheels, the largest ever fitted to a Maserati. The Trofeo is also the first Levante model to be equipped with full LED adaptive headlights.
Upfront, the grill features double vertical bars in a black piano finish, lower honeycombe mesh fascia, body colour door handles while a dedicated Saetta Trofeo logo adorns the C-pillar. The bonnet is new and features prominent dual vents for better heat extraction.
The side air intakes in the lower fascia features a new, more aggressive design defined by two aerodynamic wings. Carbon fibre side bezels and a carbon fibre splitter help to improve airflow distribution.
The rear end has a wider and more muscular look with a sharper carbon fibre horizontal element and a body coloured lower diffuser surrounding the four dark chrome exhaust pipes.
Sportiness meets luxury inside
Inside designers have come up with elegant ways to create a distinctive environment within the Levante Trofeo cabin. The sculpted sport seats feature a premium full-grain Pieno Fiore leather with a genuinely soft feel.
A new matte carbon fibre trim, paddle shifters, specific instrument cluster graphics, floor mats with metal Trofeo badges and a Maserati clock with a unique dial underline the exclusive sporty character of this model. Keeping occupants entertained is a 1 280-watt, 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium surround sound audio system.
In the centre console is an 8.4-inch capacitive touchscreen as well as a rotary knob. The system does everything you need including satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but the fact that it has been pilfered from other brands within the group shows and slightly detracts from the otherwise premium interior appointments.
The Maserati Levante Trofeo is rightfully one of the quickest SUVs ever built and competes with the likes of the Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The Maserati will appeal to a different kind of customer, however. The Levante is not-in-your face like a Lamborghini and it will not be seen outside every Starbucks like a Cayenne. The Maserati is the perfect alternative for the petrolhead who is looking for an SUV that oozes speed and style in equal amount.
MASERATI LEVANTE TROFEO
Engine: V8, twin-turbocharged petrol
Displacement: 3 799 cc
Power: 439 kW @ 6 250 r/min
Torque: 730 Nm @ 2 500 r/min
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
4WD system: Q4 Intelligent All-Wheel Drive with rear limited slip differential
Driving aids: Integrated Vehicle Control, ESP, ABS driving modes, launch control, lane keep assist, highway assist system, forward collision warning plus, hill descent control
Differential lock: N/A
Tyre size: 265/35 R22 front and 295/30 R22 rear
Tyre brand: Continental SportContact 6
Rim size: 22-inch
Suspension front: Double-wishbone, adjustable air springs
Suspension rear: Multi-link, adjustable air springs
Brakes front: Ventilated discs
Brakes rear: Ventilated discs
0–100km/h: 4.1 seconds
MEASUREMENTS AND CAPACITIES
Average fuel consumption: 13.2 litres/100km (claimed)
Fuel tank capacity: 80 litres
Ground clearance: 200mm
Weight: 2 170kg
Warranty: Three-year/100 000km
Maintenance plan: Five-year/100 000km
Service interval: 15 000km
Price: R3 790 000
Text: Reuben van Niekerk
Images: Mike Schmucker