At the New York Motor Show, Maserati has unveiled their most powerful, most performance focused Levante yet - the Trofeo. The first they’ve done to endow their SUV with sudden and serious speed cred is, unsurprisingly, to throw their fattest engine under that bonnet.
In that sense, Maserati have ‘pulled a JLR’ - as the British firm has been known to shoehorn their 5.0-litre V8 into every willing or unwilling bay - but here the Italians do have more to gain from such a move. It’s the first time we’ve seen the Ferrari-built 3.8-litre V8 in anything other than the Quattroporte.
And having the advantage of twin-turbochargers mean that Maserati can more easily dial-in more power and torque per their impulse, which they’ve promptly done here. As a result, with peaks of 434kW and 730Nm, the Levante Trofeo produces more power than production Maserati available today thanks to new crankcase design, specific crankshaft assembly, new oil pump and auxiliary belt, redesigned cylinder heads with specific camshafts and valves, different pistons, and new connecting rods.
By contrast, the Quattroporte GTS produces 395kW and the former most potent Levante you could buy supplied 316kW from a 3.0-litre V6 - a big step indeed. Another nice little contrast here is against Jaguar’s own mega-SUV, the F-Pace SVR which - you guessed it - uses their 5.0-litre supercharged V8 yet again. Even so, it’s about 30kW shy of the Maserati.
All that raw grunt is corralled by a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission before being distributed to all four corners via the Q4 all-wheel drive system. From a standstill, the Levante Trofeo can launch itself to 100km/h in as little as 3.9 seconds and will reportedly run out of breath only when passed 300km/h.
All around, Maserati have fitted it with a more aggressive setup, while the ‘Corsa’ driving mode improves engine response, lowers air suspension height levels, engages firmer active damper settings, and optimises gear shifts and the all-wheel drive system to deliver the most performance possible.
Maserati have also fitted it with bespoke forged aluminium wheels in either 21- or 22-inches. Other definitions exterior touches include a lower splitter, a vented bonnet, side skirt inserts, and a rear extractor made of ultralight high-gloss carbon fibre.
Inside, the Levante Trofeo receives a proportionately more aggressive cabin to reflect its elevated capabilities. The sculpted sports seat are upholstered in premium Pieno Fiore leather with ‘Trofeo’ logo stitch work. There’s matte carbon fibre trim inserts, carbon fibre paddle shifters, and a standard 1,280W 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system.
Once production commences in midway through 2018, the United States and Canada will be the first recipients, followed closely certain countries in Europe. Wider availability for Asia and Australasia expected to after that, though subject to the circumstances of the individual market.