First Drive: The 2022 Maserati Levante Is a Powerful Luxury SUV
A Ferrari V8 gives the literal “Maserati of SUVs” supercar potency.
There’s something of a sad story behind Maserati’s existence. Think of it as the middle son who was never allowed to follow his dreams. While under Ferrari’s reign, Maserati was never allowed to meet its full potential.
The automaker still produced some of the most beautiful and powerful cars out there. However, it has been only since Stellantis acquired the Italian marque that Maserati exploded on the automotive market, aiming at restoring its former glory.
Upon its launch in 2017, the Levante SUV was hailed as the savior of the Modena-based automaker—at least financially. Maserati hoped that Levante would be what Cayenne had been for Porsche, a way into turning a niche sports brand into a luxurious and profitable business.
Killer Italian Looks
The range-topping Trofeo trim catches the eye right away. While changes aren’t massive, the boldly restyled grille, front and rear bumpers make a notable difference. There’s also an extra trident posted on the C-pillar and some sculpting indents on the engine hood.
Inside, the same gentle update trend follows along. Seats have been replaced by newer versions; there are tastefully placed carbon fiber trims around the door panels and dashboard; controllers and switches are now aluminum instead of plastic. The only truly sportive element is the set of large paddle shifters tucked behind the steering wheel.
The Ferrari V8
Rewind to 2018 and remember that late Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne said the marque wouldn’t “bastardize the brand” by joining the SUV bandwagon like other luxury automakers. Today, Ferrari is teasing their first ever ute—the Purosangue. It looks like the long-term strategy of the company changed course dramatically.
Still, the Maserati Levante brought a Ferrari power unit into an SUV chassis before the Prancing Horse brand decided to build their own. The F154 Ferrari engine features a 3.8-liter displacement in a V8 architecture, pushing out 580 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque. These figures amount to a 3.8-second zero-to-60 mph time.
Once you start pressing the throttle pedal beyond city driving needs, the tail-pipes of the 2022 Maserati Levante Trofeo throw out masterfully tuned exhaust sounds. Switch to Corsa driving mode and the tones get deeper. Even when you try to abuse the capacity of the Levante Trofeo, the engine doesn’t complain. Instead, it keeps delivering a smooth, harshness-free experience. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is so precise and smooth, you’ll never feel the need to touch the paddle shifters.
However, the air suspension slightly confusing when left on its default setting. It tends to stiffen up randomly and be rather inconsistent over undulating asphalt. The sportier settings, topping out with the Trofeo-specific Corsa mode, are ruthless with road imperfections. Unless you’re driving on freshly laid tarmac, there will be plenty of feedback and vibration finding its way into the cabin and the steering wheel.
Maserati Touch Control Plus
Not coming from either Maserati or Ferrari, the rebranded Stellantis Uconnect system rests behind an 8.4-inch touchscreen. Named Maserati Touch Control Plus, the infotainment system brings a great deal to the table. The menu layout is extremely intuitive and takes little to no time to master, responsiveness is way above average, and the safety technology embedded into the car rivals the likes of Volvo, with automatic emergency braking, parking sensors, blind monitoring, a surround-view camera and adaptive cruise control.
Prancing Horse Power Is An Ultimate Luxury
The Levante lineup starts at $83,295 but the Trofeo trim brings the total MSRP to almost double. Topping out at $173,550, the 2022 Maserati Levante Trofeo will come way above what you’d spend for a fully fledged BMW X5M or a Porsche Cayenne Turbo. However, both of those lack a Ferrari V8 that’s complimented by delightful Italian design.