In Corsa mode, the Levante Trofeo also makes a series of adjustments to allow for maximum fun.
Maserati, a brand that has historically produced some of the world’s finest sports cars, has gone through a transformation that sees its portfolio shift towards the broader luxury car market. Seeing other traditional sports car manufacturers such as Porsche and Lamborghini having rave success with their luxury SUVs, Maserati placed their emphasis on the Levante (reviewed here) in hopes of delivering their traditional passion in a vehicle that can also conquer anything weather throws at it. This week, we have the opportunity to sample their most ultimate attempt, the 590-horsepower 2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo.
Even with its subtle Grigio Maratea paint job over the 21-inch black wheels and blue painted brake calipers, the Levante Trofeo still looks like a proper exotic SUV. Its muscular curves over elongated body proportions, and the classic Maserati design cues placed on the front fascia, fenders, and C-pillars help the Levante achieve a look that is unmistakable for a car that dons the iconic Trident logo. To distinguish the Trofeo’s uniqueness, Maserati has added a carbon fibre component on its front bumper and side skirts; and used aluminum for the hood to keep weight down.
Step into the 2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo and drivers are welcomed to a cabin that exudes both luxury and sportiness. The combination of red leather interior with contrast stitching and the carbon fibre panels creates a purebred sports car atmosphere inside, but with far better ergonomics than traditional two-door coupes of course. Many of the actual switches and levers are shared from other Fiat-Chrysler Automotive (FCA) products such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee (reviewed here), but unless you are coming from another FCA product, it is not a big concern as none of the parts are inherently bad to touch or use.
There is good visibility in the Levante Trofeo, and interior noise is well controlled so there is only engine and a bit of tire noise transmitted inside. We observed good head and legroom in both rows of seating, and the seats are supportive with good lateral support in the front bucket seats. The Levante Trofeo does ride firmly, but is nowhere near punishing and once you get on the open road it becomes a good long-distance tourer. There is good visibility despite the high waistline, a trait that is appreciated for buyers coming from traditional sports cars.
Pop the hood and you will see the bright red engine that is the heart and soul of this Italian muscle. Hand-built by Ferrari in Maranello, the twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 engine is the most powerful of its configuration in the brand’s 106-year history. With 590-horsepower at 6,250 RPM, and 538 lb-ft. of torque at 2,500 to 5,000 RPM, the Levante Trofeo’s acceleration force is brute and ferocious. There is lag while the turbochargers get spooled up, but once they start spinning, there are few sports sedans that can catch up to its 3.9-second zero to 100 km/h sprint and 304 km/h top speed. The ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox transmits power quickly with a satisfying snap, and turning on Corsa (race) driving mode sharpens up the transmission response even more.
In Corsa mode, the Levante Trofeo also makes a series of adjustments to allow for maximum fun, including sportier dampening and all-wheel drive settings, lower ride height, delayed traction and stability intervention. Most importantly, Maserati has opened up the exhaust valves to allow for freer air flow and a delightful indulgent for the ears.
The Levante Trofeo carries a beefy 4,784-pound curb weight. While it manages to hide its figure on the straightaway, its ponderous size is evident once the roads start to bend. The strong biting power of massive six-piston front brakes leads to an obvious weight transfer, and the subsequent understeer makes for a messy exit. It is a car that is best utilized as a highway missile rather than one that tries to attack the track, a profile that we suspect will fit most of its prospective buyers.
Infotainment is delivered by the Maserati Touch Control Plus (MTC+) system, which is an 8.4-inch touchscreen on the centre console that is also controlled by the aluminum rotary knob below the shifter. We prefer inputting using touch in this application for its intuitiveness as the system is largely derived from FCA’s Uconnect which is a touch-based interface. Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity is supported, and the Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system supplies those Spotify playlists with good sound quality.
The 2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo comes standard with driver’s assist features that many would have now come to expect in vehicles in this segment, including blind-spot assistance, adaptive cruise control, collision warning and avoidance, and park assist systems. While they work seamlessly to keep its occupants safe, there were a couple of irks that put a damper to its overall experience.
First, like many automakers, there are sensors on its steering wheel to ensure drivers are holding the wheel at all times. However, Maserati has only placed the sensors on the upper portion of the steering wheel, thus anyone who is used to holding the wheel on the bottom half gets a loud beep once every few minutes. This warning would not go away unless its driver changes his or her driving habits, and it startled us on numerous occasions. The second is the attentive parking sensors that work too hard at their job. It alerts drivers of close objects, however it does that all-around regardless of your traveling direction and seems to pick up obstructions from a greater distance than cars from other makes, so reversing out of a parking spot would have the system going off non-stop.
Starting at $168,560, the 2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo checks in at about $20,000 more than the base price for a Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The good part is that our Maserati tester only added $550 and $1,100 for the carbon fibre shift paddles and the Nerissimo (black out) cosmetic package. The price difference shrinks quickly once we start to build the Cayenne Turbo up to our Maserati tester’s specs, considering that ours had an as-tested total of $170,210. The Trofeo wins on looking more exotic, and with sounds that can only be made by the famed Italian automaker. The Cayenne Turbo is more well-rounded and would suit a greater part of the super-SUV buyers.
The fire breathing 2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo is a solid offering by the historic sports car manufacturer. It is not without flaws, which to some people seeking an authentic Italian sports car experience in their year-rounder, might actually receive a bonus checkmark for character. The Levante Trofeo definitely wears its Maserati logo proudly, and buyers will get the true Maserati experience. They will just have to take the good with the bad, and hopefully already have the correct driving habits down pat.