Previously, buyers in the market for a super SUV only had British and German options to consider.
All of them have boosted V8 engines that produce well over 500hp and all-wheel-drive. And despite weighing in at over two tonnes, their acceleration times are ridiculously quick – well under 5 seconds.
These SUVs are super because they make “lesser” sports cars and hot hatches look slow. Some of them can even stubbornly remain in the rearview mirrors of supercars.
Not content to remain in the rearview mirror of rival brands then, is Maserati. It now has its own super SUV called the Levante Trofeo, and it commands 573 Italian stallions.
The Maserati Levante Trofeo certainly looks ready for action. It “squints” at its competitors with aggressive headlights. There’s a giant grille with a “sharp” trident and carbon fibre aerodynamic components.
Forged aluminium wheels measuring 22-inches apiece fill the wheel wells. These are the largest standard rims ever fitted to a Levante.
Inside these wheels are equally huge brakes, measuring 380mm in front and 330mm in the rear. The brake discs are ventilated and cross-drilled.
The rear is home to a set of quad-exhausts. At this level, I suppose having only half that number somehow means the car can only go half as fast.
Inside, you get nicely bolstered sports seats, plenty of contrast stitching and alloy pedals. There are Trofeo logos on the headrests and little Trofeo “badges” on the floor mats. Matte carbon fibre is also found throughout the cabin.
Further emphasising the Maserati Levante Trofeo’s character are the big paddle shifters and only two selectable drive modes: Sport and Corsa.
And if you look closely at the gearshift lever, you’ll notice that the -/+ manual override points are in the “correct” positions. Tap forwards to downshift, and pull backwards to upshift.
FIREPOWER – AND SOUND
Nestled within the Maserati Levante Trofeo’s big bonnet is a twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8. Producing 573hp (or 580CV) and 730Nm, the Maserati Levante Trofeo doesn’t feel like it weighs over two tonnes.
Especially not when it can launch itself from rest to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds. That’s a match for a Sport Chrono package-equipped Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
But the Maserati Levante Trofeo’s claim to fame doesn’t just lie with these figures or its Nurburgring lap times. It’s also in its absolutely rocking, heavy metal soundtrack.
Maserati’s V8s are known for their rich, burbly, throaty and grumbly vocals. And the surprise here is that despite being turbocharged, it has not lost its voice.
In fact, the Maserati Levante Trofeo’s V8 is the automotive equivalent of a gunfight from The Expendables.
Rudely plant your right foot on the accelerator and the Levante Trofeo’s exhaust pipes erupt into a full crescendo.
Then, interesting things happen. Other drivers, for instance, look startled. Fellow enthusiasts’ jaws drop and their fingers will point. Lorry drivers, for no reason whatsoever, move out of your way.
Having been honed on racetracks, the Maserati Levante Trofeo is quick around corners. Again, impressive for something weighing over two tonnes.
But here’s another interesting thing. During my short, short time with the SUV, I found it prefers smaller and tighter corners, as opposed to longer and wider ones.
You would think that a car this big and heavy would prefer the former to the latter.
However, the Maserati Levante Trofeo felt more composed in the tighter corners than in the wider ones. Perhaps it finds the long and winding ones too sedate.
The brakes are a treat, too. Thanks to their bite, you feel a bit more confident in braking harder and later.
The Maserati Levante Trofeo certainly has the abilities to play in the super SUV segment.
Twin-turbocharged V8 engine with no palpable turbo lag? Check. Massive wheels, all-wheel-drive and a century sprint time of around 4 seconds? Check, check and check.
To me, what makes the Maserati Levante Trofeo unique is its character. That it can match its rivals in terms of on-road performance and handling is expected.
But if you want a super SUV that calls more attention to itself than any of its competitors, look here. Because nothing in this segment is as loud – or as proud – as a Levante Trofeo.
Maserati Levante Trofeo 3.8 (A)
ENGINE 3799cc, 32-valves, V8, turbocharged
MAX POWER 573hp (427kW) at 6750rpm
MAX TORQUE 730Nm at 2500-5000rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 264.1hp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 3.9 seconds
TOP SPEED 299km/h
CONSUMPTION 7.5km/L (combined)
PRICE EXCL. COE $635,800 (after $20k VES surcharge)
AGENT Tridente Automobili