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New York show: Maserati unveils 440kW super-SUV

Pumped up: Maserati has reworked its 3.8-litre V8 to drag out an extra 50kW for the first V8 Levante, the Trofeo.

Levante goes V8 in a big way with most powerful Maserati engine ever


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29 Mar 2018

THE most powerful Maserati production engine ever produced will head to Australia in the Levante large SUV if the Italian brand’s Australian importer has its way.

Pushing out a hefty 440kW of power and 730Nm of torque from just 3.8 litres, the hottest version yet of the Maserati-engineered, Ferrari-built twin-turbo engine made its debut in the first V8-powered Levante, dubbed Trofeo (Italian for trophy), at the New York motor show overnight.

The engine can punch the large SUV from zero to 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 300km/h, making the Levante Trofeo not only the fastest vehicle in the Levante range but across the whole Maserati line-up.

For now, the Levante Trofeo is aimed at overseas markets, starting with North America, but Maserati Australia chief operating officer Glen Sealey told GoAuto today that his company had its sights on the new variant.

“It’s something that we think would work in Australia and is right for the brand,” he said. “That said, I have no firm launch date secured.”

Until now, Maserati has offered only V6-powered Levantes, in twin-turbo petrol and turbo diesel formats.

The most powerful of these is the Levante S that serves up 316kW of power and 580Nm of torque from its 3.0-litre engine that is also built by Ferrari.

Speculation has been rife that Levante would get a version of the 3.8-litre V8 that is already offered in the Quattroporte GTS in 390kW/650Nm tune.

That might still happen – Maserati is not saying – but few expected the Italian company to pull out all stops and serve up a 440kW bruiser that can top rivals such as Porsche’s 410kW 4.0-litre Cayenne Turbo and Range Rover’s 405kW 5.0-litre SV Autobiography.

Porsche can be expected to hit back with a Turbo S version of its Cayenne which is on the launch pad for Australia for this year, but that is yet to be confirmed.

The Maserati engine develops a race-like 116kW per litre, with peak power at 6250rpm and peak torque between 2250 and 5000rpm.

To achieve this performance, the Levante Trofeo’s powerful V8 gets bigger turbos and reworked internals, including redesigned cylinder heads with specific camshafts and valves, different pistons and conrods, a new crank assembly, and redesigned crankcase.

Auxiliaries such the oil pump, serpentine belt and wiring have also been changed.

Power is fed to all four wheels by an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and an intelligent all-wheel-drive system. The drivetrain includes a badass Corsa (race) drive mode that opens exhaust valves under acceleration while providing faster gear changes, lowering the suspension and beefing up dampers via Maserati’s Skyhook adaptive suspension.

Whopping 22-inch forged alloy wheels help to keep the beast on the tarmac.

Apart from these wheels, the Trofeo can be distinguished by re-styled, more aggressive front and rear fascias. At the front, a carbon-fibre splitter and bigger side air intakes are two of the defining features.

The carbon-fibre theme is carried over to the back where the quad exhaust pipes poke through a composite lower bumper, separated by a body-coloured diffuser.

Headlights have been upgraded to full-matrix LED units that automatically block glare for in-coming drivers.

The seats are cloaked with premium soft leather available in black, red or tan, with contrasting stitching and the Trofeo logo embroider in the headrests.

Matte carbon-fibre is used for trim and paddle shifters.

Standard equipment includes a 1280-watt, 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system.

Unveiling the Trofeo in New York, Maserati CEO Tim Kuniskis said: “It’s proof that when you play with the elements you end up in a storm.

“In the case of Trofeo, the engineers and designers in Modena knew that the driveline parameters were more than able to cope with additional power and they also knew that Maserati had access to the finest engines on earth.

“So, they were up to the challenge of making the finest luxury SUV also one of the fastest.”

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