It is the most powerful production Maserati ever, developing 590 hp (439 kW) and 730 Nm of torque. This grunt comes courtesy of a Ferrari-built 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 which throws the 2.1 ton SUV to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds and all the way to a top speed of 304 km/h.
We were lucky enough to get behind the wheel of the first demo in South Africa and were keen to find out how it compared to the likes of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Range Rover Sport SVR.
As with every performance variant of every car that’s ever existed, the Levante Trofeo looks angrier than the standard one. The outside sports a bunch of carbon fibre elements, quad exhausts, a set of 22-inch forged aluminium wheels filling the wells and full LED adaptive headlights.
Inside you will find a set of sport seats wrapped in natural leather, a new shift lever and a new Corsa mode in the event you feel like taking your luxury SUV to the track or executing a launch control. Unfortunately it is quite evident that they have dipped into the much less expensive Chrysler parts bin for some switchgear and knobs but thanks to the carbon fibre time, this can be overlooked.
The engine is sublime and yes that is thanks in part to Ferrari but Maserati tweaked the final product to suit their requirements and the results roar for themselves. There’s a sports exhaust with an active valve that opens in Sport mode for the full V8 symphony, but even then the sound is cultured and on just the right side of noisy. It snarls and howls under load, then cracks pops and burbles on the overrun.
Peak torque arrives at just 2,500 rpm which gives it an effortless, lag-free surge that you should get from a modern twin-turbo and it is sent to all four wheels via the familiar eight-speed ZF auto, which delivers smooth and crisp shifts in auto mode, yet reacts quickly to the long steering column-mounted carbon fibre paddles. The steering is a touch floaty for Corsa but spot-on in comfort which is surprisingly soothing on the open road.
The Maserati Levante Trofeo is an impressive vehicle with incredible acceleration, a fantastic top speed, and a long list of standard features and although it is not quite on a par with its competitor in terms of premium finish and quality, it has a charm and personality which is rather rare in this type of car.
Initial pricing was set at R3,5m which got you pretty much a full-spec car but due to the weakening of the rand, this price has gone up slightly. We will update this article with an accurate price as soon as we have word from the local arm.
Slightly cheap switchgear