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Maserati Levante Trofeo

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EXCLUSIVITY, NOT PERFORMANCE, IS THIS MASSER’S FORTE

Back in 2015, I jetted off to Siena, Italy, to sample Maserati’s first SUV, the Levante and that would catapult the trident brand to a new audience and play a key role in ramping its market share and profitability. It was a decent first attempt as we took it where no other Maserati has gone before – off-road.

However, the 3.0-litre V6 diesel variant – the only model that was destined for our shores at the time – was good but lacked that aural splendour accustomed with the brand. This was addressed, somewhat, by the Levante S with its sonorous twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6.

Sadly, it paled against the competition from Porsche in the Cayenne GTS and BMW X5M and Mercedes-AMG GLE 63.
Now the company has finally afforded the market exactly what the Levante needed – a twin-turbo, Ferrari-sourced V8 shoehorned into its snout. Yes, indeed, the Levante Trofeo is the flagship variant of the range and, following our brief stint at its wheel, it has duly readdressed all those performance deficiencies.

WHAT EXACTLY LURKS UNDER THE BONNET?

Maserati Levante Trofeo

With signature scarlet red Ferrari cam covers, the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 employed here is a thing of beauty, thanks to the aforementioned cam covers and the contrasting carbon fibre engine cover, replete with the Trident motif. It thumps out a hearty 433 kW and 730 Nm through an 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox, while the all-wheel-drive dispatches it all to the tarmac.

HOW DOES IT GO?

Maserati Levante Trofeo

Satisfyingly so! It is an engine with lashings of torque no matter where in the rev range you are and, while it enjoys being stretched out to its almost 7,000 r/min ceiling, it pulls admirably from just tick-over. It also emits a fruity soundtrack from its quad exhausts, particularly in Sport or the even more hardcore Corsa modes.

Thankfully, the gearbox is well up to the task of rapidly dispatching cogs, while the handling is good if not entirely as buttoned-down as the Lamborghini Urus. That said, it is exactly what the Levante should have been from the outset. It looks the part, has an air of grace about it and now the legs to keep up with most performance-oriented SUVs in this segment.

SHOULD I BUY ONE?

Maserati Levante Trofeo

If exclusivity is high up your purchase list, then the Levante Trofeo will not disappoint. However, if outright performance and no compromise is your thing, then the Lamborghini Urus remains the most focussed performance SUV on the market. Of course, the latest Porsche Cayenne GTS variants will soon be available in SA and might be a worthy alternative, too. Also, the Aston Martin DBX is standing in the wings, so the segment is awash with alternatives.

Report by LERATO MATEBESE | Images © MASERATI

This article originally appeared in Driven’s August edition

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