Not all Maserati Levantes are created equal. The Italian company’s first SUV was introduced in 2016—when it became apparent that no manufacturer (even if the products are supercars) could avoid the sport-utility format. Initially, the Levantes could choose from one of two versions of the Ferrari-sourced three-liter V6. The power output quickly grew, and by 2018 lucky consumers had access to a top-of-the-line Levante Trofeo with a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8.
For 2022, the Levante line has been refreshed and simplified. Gone are the GranLusso, GranSport, and GTS models, replaced by the GT (with 350 horsepower from a twin-turbo V6),
(same engine, but with 430 horsepower),
(a 550-horsepower version of the V8) and the Trofeo at the top of the heap. That’s the version tested here as a 2021 model in Bianco Alpi (white), with a bottom line price of US$167,990.
It’s a big price, but it’s a lot of car. A big and useful SUV that accelerates and handles like a sports car? It seems to defy the laws of physics, but the Trofeo is concrete evidence of the possibilities. The twin-turbo V8 produces 580 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque, connected to an eight-speed ZF automatic that offers a manual mode.
At this level, there is a long list of standard features, but the Trofeo still included some relatively expensive options, including US$2,800 for the tri-coat paint, US$1,300 for carbon fiber trim, US$4,000 for upgraded upholstery, and US$400 for the painted 22-inch wheels.
Owners will probably have other cars to go off-road, but the Q4 all-wheel-drive system is very capable and there’s a mode for the rough stuff. A limited-slip differential is also standard and very useful in a car with this much power. In normal driving, the Levante Trofeo directs all its engine torque to the rear wheels, but on bad roads, or if traction is lost, up to 50% can be redirected forward—in just 150 milliseconds. There’s torque vectoring, which aids cornering by carefully adding braking to the inner wheels.
On country roads in a rainstorm, the high-end 2021 Levante was delightfully poised, as well as exceptionally fast. Zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds is possible, which should keep the supercar credentials intact. It’s a sizable SUV, but it seems to shrink on the road.
The car comes with Corsa mode, which enables more aggressive throttle response and also provides more traction, lowers the air-suspension ride height, and invokes sportier Skyhook suspension settings. If the car is in Corsa, you can also engage Launch Control. The brake pedal is applied and the engine speed builds, to be released for ultra-swift getaways.
Driving like that, of course, causes heavy fuel consumption. Even driving normally, you’re going to see 13 miles per gallon around town, and 20 on the highway (16 combined).
The interior is sumptuous, featuring “Pieno
” natural leather upholstery with glossy carbon-fiber trim. The Bowers & Wilkins audio system offers 17 speakers. The short test period didn’t allow for a complete aural workout, but it sounded fine. The
assistant is on tap and ready to answer questions. There’s a full complement of safety equipment as standard.
There are also Trofeo versions of the Maserati Ghibli and Quattroporte. The Levante Trofeo is only mildly tweaked for 2022, and offers some new trim and rear light clusters. It remains the same prospect for would-be buyers: A supercar disguised as an SUV, especially if “Trofeo” is part of the name.