MASERATI has lit the touch paper on a new Trofeo version of its Levante large SUV, slotting a Ferrari-built 3.8-litre turbo V8 under its high-riding snout, for a peak output of 440kW/730Nm and the muscle to get to 100km/h from standstill in 3.9 seconds.
With a mighty forced induction bent eight powering all four wheels, the ‘roid-pumped Levante Trofeo only narrowly misses out on the Italian company’s title as fastest and most powerful production car to date, not bad for its off-road foray.
Astonishingly, it is only the viciously expensive and rare Ferrari Enzo V12-powered Maserati MC12 super-coupe of 2004 that can better the latest Levante, with 460kW and a 0-100km/h dash of 3.8 seconds.
The addition to the SUV range offers high-performance hardware fans another option in the blossoming quick SUV market, although pricing will ultimately decide how it competes against the likes of other high-riders that pack sportscar credentials.
From the German manufacturers, BMW’s X5 and X6 M twins and the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 put up a fight, with acceleration to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds. Fellow Italian Lamborghini Urus does the dash in a best-in-class 3.6 seconds (albeit for a $390,000 price), while the Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV sets a time of 3.8 seconds.
Acceleration and power figures are strong on paper but the Trofeo can also brag a serious v-max of more than 300km/h.
Of the current Maserati range, the Trofeo becomes the fastest model wearing a trident badge, beating the Quattroporte GTS to 100km/h by a tenth, which uses a less powerful version of the same Maranello-made 3.8-litre V8. It also trumps the GranTurismo MC Sportline, which shares the GTS’ 0-100km/h time.
The extra 50kW and 80Nm of torque over the limo’s engine is thanks to a major overhaul including new crankcase, crankshaft, pistons, conrods and higher-flow turbos complemented by redesigned cylinder heads.
Beyond the Trofeo’s mighty engine centrepiece, the hottest Levante has a number of upgrades over its V6 siblings, including a chassis that has been fettled to manage the extra grunt.
‘Finely tuned’ double wishbone suspension looks after the Levante’s front end, while a modified multi-link system takes care of the stern, and a weight-distribution of 50:50 adds to the sharpened chassis.
Twenty-two-inch forged aluminium wheels are the most generous yet fitted to a Maserati and are offered in polished or matte finishes but can be swapped for 21-inch alloys with all-season tyres. They connect to the engine and eight-speed automatic transmission via the company’s Q4 all-wheel drive system.
A number of driving modes allow the character of the Trofeo to be altered according to environmental conditions, including Normal, ICE for slippery conditions, Off-Road for leaving the paved road behind and Sport for more enthusiastic driving.
A further Corsa mode offers the maximum throttle response, lowers the suspension, optimises the Integrated Vehicle Control (IVT) settings, reduces gear-shift times and opens exhaust valves for a more obvious and sporty V8 report.
Trofeo varieties are immediately identifiable from lesser Levantes with a number of exterior changes. At the front and rear ends, the bumpers and fascia have been redesigned with honeycomb grille and larger more aggressive vents with carbonfibre splitter.
Side air intakes have been re-sculpted for a more ‘aggressive’ look, while more carbon for side bezel blades and quad exhaust completes the look.
There’s more carbonfibre for the cabin along with widespread leather or optional Pieno Fiore leather with Trofeo embroidered graphics, top-end B&W sound system, and instrumentation specific to the variant.
Production starts this year and, although local pricing and specification is yet to be finalised, the Trofeo will be offered to Australia’s power-hungry petrolheads.
The New York show car that will be revealed to the public on March 30 is dressed up in limited launch edition extras, but the special version will be offered to the fastest acting US and Canadian customers only.