Presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 2016, the Levante has become the first SUV in Maserati's history, contributing significantly to the brand's expansion strategy, which has multiplied by 10 the number of vehicles sold between 2010 and 2018. Initially available with a Diesel V6 275 hp or with V6 gasoline available in choice in 350 and 430 hp (in its version S whose test is to be discovered here), the Levante is revealed in another day two years later in New York by adopting a Ferrari V8 biturbo and a slightly revised look. The so-called Levante Trofeo hopes to catch up with the competition, which has already taken a big step ahead in the race for the powerful SUVs, test!
Competition is rather tough on the market. Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Mercedes GLE 63 AMG, Range Rover Sport SVR or Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus. The Levante was pale beside such monsters of luxury and power, even Alfa Romeo briskly exceeded the 500 hp thanks to its Stelvio QV (test reread here). It was high time for Maserati to get out of the woods and to borrow from the Quattroporte GTS his singing V8. It's done. Maserati also offers two variants of its Levante V8: the GTS which develops 530 hp, offering the quintessence of Grand Touring according to Maserati and the famous Trofeo, which reaches him the 580 hp and sports a more aggressive body kit and crosses on paper the symbolic bar of 300 km / h.
The aesthetic changes are indeed more marked on the Trofeo than on his brother of range, the GTS. Aluminum hood with double air outlet, grille surround and side windows in black piano, carbon inlays on the sides and on the front blade and 22-inch wheels, the Trofeo does not seem to be original and opts for the same ingredients as the competition to stand out from a lambda SUV. Specific badges "Trofeo" are also present on the C-pillars and embroidered on the set of headrests to never forget that you are well aboard the most exclusive Maserati SUV to date. The interior is also carbon-friendly to the gearshift paddles ZF 8 reports, fixed and a generous size as usual at Maserati. No change compared to previous versions equipped with V6 engines. Even the seats take a strictly identical design. I would have liked to see something more opulent, a little in the spirit of the Sabelt carbon shell bucket that can be found on the Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV. Is the name Trofeo usurped?
Not on the side of the bowels of the beast anyway. The V8 3.0 L biturbo block of Ferrari origin is just as enjoyable to watch as to hear singing (a real tenor in an opera stage). The carbon head cover wears the Maserati colors and proudly displays the "V8" nomenclature, while the cylinder head itself is revealed in a fiery red, like the Ferrari Testarossa of the golden era. I often forget to open the hood to take a look at the entrails of animals that I have the opportunity to take the wheel. It must be said that the current mechanics have more style in common style in common with those of forty years ago. But for once, the Levante Trofeo is a real show in these complicated times for thermal engines. Beyond that, it's probably the most enjoyable engine to watch from all the current SUV production. Okay, that's not enough to make an argument for a purchase, but it already differentiates you from the horde of other SUVs.
You wanted other reasons? 580 hp, a 0 to 100 km / h in 4.1 seconds (a pity not to fall below 4 seconds), 2170 kg empty on the scale pulled by a staggering couple of 730 Nm and as specified, a speed maximum speed of 300 km / h, resulting from Maserati's desire to reach absolutely this iconic figure. For a monster exceeding 5 meters in length, no need to tell you that it will be difficult to chase you from the left lane on the autobahn. What delight a certain clientele ranging from ex-mafia Italian Russian dignitaries without falling into the cliché, or simply lovers of long-distance travel at a steady pace. But get ready to go to the pump regularly since our average consumption during the test was more than 20 L / 100 km. Anne Hidalgo if you read me, forgive me. It must be said that at the wheel of this machine, we get caught quickly for what we are not: superior. You overhang the road and the majority of users at a good height, the V8 makes vocalizations up to 3000 trs / minutes to wake up little by little and tear the ambient calm of the Champagne in this period post-harvest. Even in Sport mode, the controls remain astonishingly smooth, thanks in particular to a power-assisted steering and a damping controlled with a pneumatic suspension whose bursts seem perfectly mastered even with 22-inch wheels and tires in 265/30 / 22 at the front and 295/30/22 at the back. The feedback is hardly noticeable and the steering wheel moves a lot as soon as the road gets a tad, all to remind you that you're still not on board a real sports.
Oh, you believe? Despite my growing enthusiasm behind the wheel as the miles swallowed, I was far, far from imagining how and a V8 and Corsa mode were able to transfigure a SUV at first sight for Grand Touring. Special eater, because it is well on a closed portion of 1.6 km that we had the leisure to discover the extent of the dynamic capacities of Levante Trofeo, in the expert hands of a professional pilot (the result figure in the video at the end of the article). After 6 sessions, the brakes are not worth it, and the Levante Trofeo always moves very easily from the rear, the Corsa mode favoring 100% of the torque to the rear wheels and a minimal and late intervention of the ESP. Better than that, it will even involve in the first place a return of traction of the front wheels to correct at best the trajectory rather than curb our SUV Maserati in its momentum demonstration that led to the following conclusion, yes an SUV may have a soul, yes an SUV can be sporty and yes, it's totally absurd to see such a vehicle on our roads in these days (and you have not yet seen what we reserve in our next excessive SUV tests). In the meantime, we let you enjoy our dynamic images and our opinion hot, with the sound of course.
Photo / video credits: Maurice Cernay
Many thanks to Maserati for the invitation and the exclusive experience.