The insatiable appetite for SUVs has led every manufacturer down this path. The luxury, super-fast section of this market is particularly buoyant, and the Maserati Levante Trofeo brings a unique character to the arena. This is due in no small part to its engine: a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 from Ferrari. A practical SUV with a sonorous Ferrari V8? There’s no denying its appeal.
It also helps that the Maserati Levante Trofeo looks good. You could prefix that with “for an SUV,” but if this is the sort of car you’re after, it looks the part. It’s more understated than some other super-SUVs, but that’s by no means a bad thing and further broadens its unique appeal.
What’s the Maserati Levante Trofeo like to drive?
Having a Ferrari engine under the bonnet, let’s dive straight into the very reason you’d buy a car like this. The whole acoustic ensemble in the Maserati Levante Trofeo is undoubtedly class leading. When cruising along the ride is smooth and the cabin quiet. A quick squeeze of the right foot, however, and that V8 immediately kicks into raucous action.
This is what we’ll miss if electric cars take over. The Maserati Levante Trofeo hunkers down, you feel the rear end dip, there’s a momentary pause whilst everything aligns and bang – you’re off towards the horizon.
The in-gear acceleration is hugely impressive in a motorway setting. It accelerates from mid-range speeds with aplomb and there’s always the sound and feel of that V8 to accompany your every move. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve fallen in love with that engine. It’s a work of art. It’s even presented as such when you lift the lid to have a look at it.
Of course, a car like a Maserati Levante Trofeo is most likely to be performing the mundane; school runs, shopping, commuting, that sort of thing. As you’d reasonably expect from a luxury SUV, it performs well in this setting. The suspension can be lowered and raised with ease, making dealing with speed bumps and potholes straightforward, plus any serious off-roading should the need arise. Which it almost certainly won’t.
There’s also plenty of space for five passengers and loads of luggage, with heated seats in the rear and heated and air-conditioned seats in the front. The cabin is a very nice place to be, with quality touches all over, from the soft leather to the alcantara headlining and panoramic sunroof.
So, it’s a very comfortable place to spend a lot of time. If you’re regularly covering long distances, the Maserati Levante Trofeo makes a perfect companion. The only compromise, and it’s one worth making, is how often you’ll need to stop for petrol. A full tank will carry you c.330 miles, although regularly exposing yourself to the acoustic sensation of that wonderful engine will bring this down.
I covered just shy of 500 miles in the Maserati Levante Trofeo and achieved 20mpg. This included a prolonged motorway journey to Leeds and back from my home in Walton. So, consumption could be better but let’s be honest, no one is buying a Maserati Levante Trofeo for its frugality. You’d buy it for, you know, that engine.
For such journeys there’s really nothing to fault. The upgraded Bowers & Wilkins sound system fitted to the model tested also deserves mention because it’s brilliant. A box worth ticking.
What’s it like out of its comfort zone?
The only time the Maserati Levante Trofeo feels flustered is out on a country road. You suddenly realise its width and weight. In this setting, it’s not as dynamically capable as others in the market.
I have often wondered, however, who on earth buys a luxury super-SUV based on its track day credentials? If you can afford to shop in this market, you can probably afford a more track focussed car, something like a Caterham Seven, to run at the weekend.
I understand why manufacturers make SUVs as competent as they so often are these days – because they can. It’s also a useful marketing tool. Have all the practicality of an SUV with the acceleration of a super car and the drive of a hot hatch: charge lots of money. There’s no denying it’s a successful formula.
That’s not to say you can’t lean on the Maserati Levante Trofeo a bit, though. It’s by no means a fish out of water on a decent B-road and you’ll still enjoy yourself. You couldn’t fail to enjoy yourself when poking and prodding at that engine. Select corsa mode, open a couple of extra valves, stiffen the ride and off you go. It’s good fun. You’ll get you, your partner, a couple of kids and the dog cross country in no time.
The Maserati Levante Trofeo is a unique and distinct proposition in the luxury super-SUV market. It has all the opulent touches you’d expect but what really sets it apart is, yes, that engine. It’s magnificent and lends the Levante Trofeo such a distinct character.
It’s effortless to drive and the 3.8-lite twin-turbo sits at the heart of that that experience. If you’re purchasing a car like this, I suspect you want a deal of theatre thrown into the package. You want the noise and you want the savage acceleration. The Maserati Levante Trofeo emphatically delivers on this front. It’s a car with soul and emotion, an SUV that you can buy with your heart. There aren’t too many of those around.
I really wasn’t too sure what to expect from it, but anything with a Ferrari engine always piques one’s interest. Would that sort of engine work as well in the SUV arena; would it retain its charm? The answer is most definitely yes. There are compromises, of course, but that’s the nature of the super-SUV as they try to be all things to all drivers.
Having spent most of one Saturday driving up and down the M1, I still wanted to drive the Maserati Levante Trofeo. I hadn’t grown weary or bored of it. It stands out in a positive way in the crowded SUV market and gives anyone looking around for one a decision to make. If you’re going to burn a hole in your wallet, it might as well be with a Maranello inspired smile planted firmly across your face.
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