Levante is a wind that blows across the Mediterranean, mild one moment and gale force another. The Maserati SUV that bears its name also possesses blistering power but because of its Q4 intelligent all-wheel drive, can also maintain a refined composure, even under testing conditions. For the coming 2019 model year, the dynamism of the Levante SUV has gone up a notch with the launch in 2018 of two new variants, the Levante GTS and the Levante Trofeo, both powered by a bigger and more powerful V8 twin-turbo. The adoption of the V8 engine brings the Levante to the top of its class in terms of outright performance, driving dynamics and exclusivity.

With the addition of the two V8 models, the Levante petrol-powered range now comprises of four models: Levante, Levante S, Levante GTS, and Levante Trofeo.

The Levante base model is powered by the 2,979 cc V6 twin-turbo engine which produces peak-power of 350 hp at 5,750 rpm and peak-torque of 500 Nm between 1,750 and 4,750 rpm. It has a top speed of 251 kmph and 0-to-100 kmph acceleration in 6.0 seconds.

Levante S has the same V6 twin-turbo as the base model but can produce 79 more units of hp for a peak-power of 424 hp at 5,750 rpm. Peak-torque of 580 Nm is achieved between 2,000 and 4,750 rpm. The top speed is 264 kmph and acceleration from 0-to-100 kmph is achieved in 5.2 seconds.

Levante GTS has the new and bigger 3,799 cc V8 twin-turbo capable of producing 542 hp at 6,250 rpm and 730 Nm between 2,500 and 5,000 rpm. The top speed is 292 kmph and acceleration from 0-to-100 kmph is achieved in 4.2 seconds.

Engine of the Maserati Levante GTS

Levante Trofeo has the same V8 twin-turbo as the GTS but can produce 40 hp more at 6,250 rpm. Peak torque is also the same as the GTS but has the highest top speed in the model range at 304 kmph and the fastest 0-to-100 kmph acceleration at 3.9 seconds.

There is also a 2,987 cc V6 turbo diesel model producing 275 hp at 4,000 rpm. It delivers the highest peak-torque in the Levante range of 600 Nm between 2,000 and 2,600 rpm. It is capable of reaching 230 kmph and a 0-to-100 kmph acceleration in 6.9 seconds.

Although the exterior receives an upgrade, particularly in the two V8 models, the distinctive coupé silhouette and overall design language remain mostly intact. The interior design of the 2019 Levante models, however, has a lot of fresh offerings.

The Levante is class-leading in terms of interior space. The rear seats comfortably accommodate three passengers with generous headroom. The two outer rear-seats offer additional comfort and lateral restraint. The luggage compartment has a versatile load space of 580 litres. The standard power tailgate can be activated by buttons on the tailgate, key fob or dome light panel. The system’s special anti-pitching function immediately stops the closing procedure when an obstacle is detected. For convenience, there are three 12V power sockets in the cabin plus one in the luggage area.

The GranSport trim features a 12-way-movement power sport front seats with memory function and integrated anti-whiplash headrests. The leather seats are available in four colours – black, red, beige and tan – featuring specific stitching, which is also extended to the leatherette dashboard. The sport steering wheel is power-adjustable with aluminium gearshift paddles. The Inox sport pedals are power adjustable.

The GranLusso trim features exclusive Ermenegildo Zegna Silk in dark grey anthracite which combines with three different shades of luxurious fine-grain leather in black, tan and red. It complements the Zegna mulberry silk inserts on the seats, door panels, roof lining, sunshades and ceiling light fixture. The Trident emblem is embroidered on the headrests while the dashboard and the armrest are padded with Premium leather. This unique and exclusive silk is made using a patented process in Trivero, Italy, by the Zegna wool mill. Other highlights include Radica open-pore dashboard wood, leather steering wheel and Kardon Premium Sound System. Every V6 Levante can now be upgraded to the GranLusso trim.

The interior of the Levante GTS features Premium leather on seats, upper and lower dashboard, central armrest and on door panels with an exclusive single stitching pattern. The leather upholstery is available in black, tan, red, and beige colours. Standard equipment includes 12-way power sport front seats with memory function, power-adjustable sport steering wheel with aluminium gearshift paddles, power adjustable Inox sport pedals and velour floor mats.

The Levante Trofeo interior features sculpted sport seats covered with premium full-grain Pieno Fiore natural leather available in black, red and tan, all with contrast stitching and “Trofeo” logo stitched on the headrests. Premium leather with specific stitching also covers the upper and lower dashboard and the armrest. The door panels stand out for their unique, double-stitching pattern. Other highlights include a new matt carbon fibre wave veneer, specific instrument cluster graphics, floor mats with metal Trofeo badges, a Maserati clock with a unique dial and a 1,280W, 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Premium Surround Sound System.

The dashboard in Levante range is designed around the 8.4” Maserati Touch Control Plus (MTC+) display which in conjunction with a user-friendly rotary knob in the central console controls the infotainment system. The MTC+ is a highly responsive interface unit that works like a tablet, recognising drag, scroll, swipe and rotate gestures. The system includes radio and Bluetooth and supports satellite navigation. MTC+ also controls front seat and steering wheel heating, seat ventilation, improved A/C functions. The new Trofeo and GTS versions of the instrument panel feature specific instrument cluster graphics and clock dials.

All Levante versions are now fitted with a redesigned gearshift lever which gives the driver the option to use the gearbox in either automatic or manual mode by merely shifting the lever from right to left, while a new ‘P’ button on top sets the transmission in parking mode.

The eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, also used across the range, is designed to deliver comfort, low fuel consumption, as well as reduced noise, vibration and harshness. The transmission is complemented by Maserati’s Q4 Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive System which is designed to deliver a typical Maserati rear-wheel drive experience, even in low-grip road conditions. However, when required, is capable of transferring traction to the front wheels almost instantaneously. To handle the increased power, the GTS, Trofeo, as well as the S models, now offer state-of-the-art braking with Brembo 380 mm disks in the front and 42 mm discs in the rear.

The chassis of the Levante was designed to provide high levels of rigidity, extremely low centre of gravity and an ideal 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution. The adoption of the V8 engine has resulted in kerb weight increasing by roughly 60 kg in comparison to the V6 petrol versions, but the front-rear weight distribution is still a perfect 50:50 for both new GTS and Trofeo versions.

With the arrival of the new V8 models and the option to retrofit older V6 models with the new luxurious GranLusso trim, the ‘Maserati of SUVs’ looks set to build some serious momentum in the luxury SUV market in 2019.