Maserati had only just stepped into the SUV arena but in that short space of time, just four years, the luxurious and powerful Levante had become a key component to Maserati. This was the best seller for the Modena factory and, in the intervening years, they gave it the full Maserati treatment. Improving its performance and trim accessories so that the SUV was offered in a wide variety of iterations.
The 2020 Maserati Levante continued in the same vein as it was presented with several powertrains and trim specs, as well as offering some exclusive bespoke editions. The lineup consisted of the Base, S, GTS & Trofeo which had a choice of V6 or V8 engines. The two models with the V6 power could be upgraded with a high luxury trim, GranLusso, or enhance the sporty nature of the SUV with the GranSport trim.
As is their way, Maserati would create a couple of limited editions in addition to the above. The Edizione Ribelle package presents the Levante with a blacked-out exterior while fitting out the interior leather in a two-tone red and black; the exclusive design is restricted to just 100 units.
For all out power and, again, only 100 to be built, was the 2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo Launch Control Edition. With unique sportier accents and triple layered paintwork, the SUV is also fitted with another drive option, Corsa, which sets up the adaptive suspension in its lowest setting yet Along with the launch control function, this SUV produces more torque than the Maserati MC12.
Great Power in the Trident
The 2020 Maserati Levante would be available with a 3.0 liter V6, in the Base & S models, or 3.8 liter V8 Ferrari engine, in the GTS & Trofeo. Each model would have different outputs.
The Base produced 345 bhp at 5,750 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque at 1,750 rpm. While the V6 fitted in the S gave out 424 rpm at 5,750 rpm and 428 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. Much stronger power was found with the V8’s, with the GTS producing 523 bhp at 6,250 rpm and 538 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm. The powerful Trofeo produced the same torque though making 572 bhp at 6,750 rpm.
Speed and acceleration was equally demarcated by the setups. The Base made the 0-60 mph dash in 6.0 seconds and making a top speed of 156 mph. While the S completed the 0-60 mph sprint in 5.2 seconds and hitting a top speed of 164 mph. The V8’s were more impressive, with the 2020 Maserati Levante GTS going from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds and reaching a top speed of 181 mph. Best of all, the Trofeo hit 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds while producing a blistering 189 mph (304 kmh).
Unfortunately, this high performing Ferrari engine is a low performing engine at the gas pumps with only a combined 15 mpg.
For the market outside of North America, the rest of the world also had a further engine option. The market for diesel engines was very strong in other territories as they would be more cost effective to run. So, Maserati had to do something they had never done before, they had to put a diesel engine into a Maserati (!)
Though diesel engines were very practical, they were not known for being a high-performance engine. So, to help Maserati get the most out of their diesel unit, they turned to someone who knew Ferrari engines very well – Paolo Martinelli. Snr Martinelli had great experience with the Prancing Horse, as he had been tasked to oversee all V10 engines for the Scuderia Ferrari Racing Team’s F1 cars that were being driven by Michael Schumacher, as he won continuous back-to-back championships.
Under his guidance, they were able to create a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 Diesel with 271 bhp at 4,000 rpm and 443 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. Acceleration allowed it to make 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds and achieving a respectable top speed of 143 mph.
All models of the 2020 Maserati Levante would be installed with the German, ZF, eight-speed automatic transmission that came with various driving modes – Normal, Sport, ICE Off-Road & Manual. Maserati had also replaced the irksome gear stick with one that was easier to use.
In ‘Normal’ mode, running around town, the SUV behaves compliantly and serves its purpose well. To enhance this city driving, the transmission can be set to ICE (Increased Control & Efficiency) which curtails the power of the engine for better fuel economy.
But to unleash the power and exhilaration of the Maserati, the transmission would need to be engaged in ‘Sport’ mode. This came in two stages: the first livened up the throttle and quickened the gear changes (while pushing the rev meter nearer the redline) and bypassing the exhaust valves to increase the throaty growl of the Ferrari engine. The second stage put the adaptive suspension in a lower and firmer setup in anticipation for some aggressive driving (but best not attempted on a poorer road surface as it will be an unforgiving ride).
Then to enjoy the Maserati as it was made for, engage the ‘Manual’ mode by sliding the gear stick over and flipping the shift changes up or down. This can also be controlled by the optional shift paddles that are situated on the steering column.
But to fulfill its SUV pedigree, the transmission could be set in ‘Off-Road’ mode (1 & 2) which allowed the adaptive suspension to raise the car almost 10 inches above ground clearance.
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Similar to other Maserati’s, the 2020 Maserati Levante had excellent performance in handling and precision steering. Despite over 16 feet long and over 4,600 lbs. in weight, this SUV could perform like a roadster half its size. Either speeding along straightaways or tearing through corners at high speed, the SUV would respond instantly and precisely to the driver’s steering commands.
All maneuvers would be executed without any over or understeer, as the perfect balance, all-wheel drive and driver assist systems ensured a competent ride. The wide and staggered tires would also ensure that the large SUV would grip the road as if riding on rails. Even for the more inexperienced driver, they could push the car further and enjoy the thrill of the ride. The driver aids, that included, stability & traction control as well as anti-lock brakes, prevented the “excitement” from getting out of hand.
The 2020 Maserati Levante came with the usual ‘Skyhook’ adaptive suspension system but now worked in five different settings. With two more heights above and below the normal setting that would be used for either off-road or racier profiles, as well as a lowered setting for easier entry and loading.
Whether cruising down main street, riding over bumpy roads or screaming through tight bends, the suspension kept the occupants as comfortable as possible with very little body roll
The Maserati SUV came in a plethora of upgrades and trims. Whether the owner wished to enhance the luxurious feel of the automobile or increase its sportier performance (or both!). This was what distinguished this SUV from the rest of the luxurious competitors – the fact that the model could be customized extensively so that not one vehicle was the same as the next.
The cabin is awash with Poltrona Frau leather with hand stitching and piping, piano-black plastic surface accents, 12-way power adjustable front seats with memory (driver only) and heating, dual-zone climate control. The standard audio setup includes eight speakers with a 280-watt stereo.
The 2020 Maserati Levante GranLusso, apart from all of the above, also provides: a panoramic sunroof, metallic-finished roof rails, bright silver skid plates, a body color rear spoiler, and black brake calipers. The interior receives open-pore wood trim, premium leather and designer silk cloth upholstery, ventilated front seats, and a heated and wood-lined steering wheel. The stereo is upgraded to 900 watts and 14 speakers.
The 2020 Maserati Levante GranSport offers additionally: a body-color sport rear spoiler, similar sunroof and the stereo upgrade. Cosmetic changes include piano-black exterior trim, 20-inch wheels, and red brake calipers. To add to the racier image, this package also adds shift paddles, 12-way power-adjustable seats with larger bolsters, and a sport steering wheel and pedals.
The S GranLusso also offers soft-close doors while the GTS and Trofeo offer bespoke leathers and paintwork, 1280-watt 17 speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system as well as 22-inch alloy wheels.
Wired for Sound
The Infotainment system (taken from the Jeep Grand Cherokee) is very ergonomic compared with others in its class. The 8.4-inch touchscreen accesses all interior controls that include the dual front climate control, sat nav, satellite radio and media player with multiple connectivity. This can be paired through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and other USB ports.
The Modena carmaker had initially boasted that the Levante was the ‘Maserati of SUVs’ but, with the advent of adding the high powered Trofeo to the lineup, this can now be referred to as the “Ferrari of SUVs’. The Trident was riding a crest of a wave.