A monster Maserati SUV

Maserati’s full-size luxury performance SUV was first unveiled as the Kubang concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2011. The production model was then officially unveiled earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show in March. When it finally broke cover, the details were impressive – the exterior was pure Italian premium goodness, the cabin was opulent and well appointed, and a good dose of adrenaline was waiting under the hood. However, it’s looking like an even more exciting Levante is just over the horizon, and we think it’ll have a meaner look, more driver’s goodies inside, and two additional turbocharged cylinders.

So where would we get a crazy idea like that? Well, back in April, Autoblog asked Maserati if it could fit its top-spec 523-horsepower twin-turbo V-8, the same powerplant it shoehorned into the Quattroporte GTS, into its first-ever SUV. The answer was an unequivocal “yes.” What’s more, Davide Danesin, the head of Maserati vehicle programs, reported that the Trident already had a prototype of the combo in hand, leading high-performance SUV enthusiasts everywhere to begin salivating uncontrollably. And while it’s still possible Maserati will axe the project outright, odds are a Levante GTS will become a thing sooner or later.

In anticipation of that day, we created the following rendering and speculative review.

Updated 10/06/2017: The upcoming Maserati Levante GTS was caught testing for the first time in the sunny and hot parts of Europe.

Continue reading to learn more about the Maserati Levante GTS.

Spy Shots

February 12, 2018 – Maserati Levante GTS spied testing in cold European weather

The weather up here in the Northern Hemisphere is still quite chilly, and that means automakers are busy testing out the snow-worthiness of their various upcoming models. Such is the case with the forthcoming Maserati Levante GTS, which was recently spied putting its AWD system to good use in Europe.

Although the test is mule is still covered in camo, we can make out larger intakes in the front bumper, which should do well to keep the V-8 under the hood nice and cool. We’re also expecting vents in the hood, while the stance will be lowered over a larger wheel and tire package. The braking package should also see an upgrade, while larger exhaust tips in the rear will be a nod to the car’s impressive performance potential.

October 6, 2017 - Maserati Levante GTS caught testing in the sunny and hot parts of Europe

2018 Maserati Levante GTS
- image 736264
2018 Maserati Levante GTS
- image 736272

Exterior

2018 Maserati Levante GTS Exterior Exclusive Renderings
- image 683873

To help it stand out from the standard Levante, the GTS model gets a selection of unique styling additions. The most noticeable difference is the front fascia, where we find a lower intake that is widened and extended, unlike the bisected lower intake on the standard model. This lower intake receives a honeycomb grille insert, which is finished in glossy black, a nice offset to the exterior body panels. Above the widely grinning lower grille are two fog lights that are deeply set into the bumper, almost like dimples. Near the ground, we find an extended front splitter, most likely made from a composite material.

The characteristic Trident badge is front and center in the upper intake, bookended on either side by four slates finished in a dark coloration. A single chrome strip runs along the topmost edge of the grille, leading the eye into LED daytime running lights in the front projectors.

The look is much more assertive, trading roundness for sharp edges and adding a good amount of GT-inspired aggression.

These features set the right angle to give the Levante GTS an aggressive, forward-leaning demeanor. Higher up are hood lines that give the front end a sharp, pointed look.

Moving to the profile, we find a trio of the trademark Maserati fender vents. Beyond these are revised side-view mirrors, which are sharper and smaller, coming to an almost blade-like tip. The mirror cap finish is black, a color that’s repeated in the side skirt extensions at the bottom. The window surrounds are made from polished chrome.

In back, there’s a trailing edge roof spoiler, while below the hatch, there are quad exhaust tips set in a carbon fiber diffuser that gets the Levante just a little closer to the ground.

Overall, the look is much more assertive, trading roundness for sharp edges and adding a good amount of GT-inspired aggression. But it’s not all for looks – the aerodynamic enhancements become necessary on a vehicle with this much potential, as downforce becomes an issue that can’t be ignored when you’re pushing more than 500 horsepower.

Interior

2016 Maserati Levante High Resolution Interior
- image 667852

Note: Interior from Standard 2016 Levante shown here.

We didn’t render the Levante GTS’ interior space, but it isn’t too hard to imagine what it’ll bring to the table should it hit production.

First off, expect opulence and luxury at every turn. Sumptuous leather upholstery, wood trim, aluminum control bits, and an Alcantara headliner are all part of the materials list. Contrast stitching abounds.

However, to make it sportier, the GTS model will offer the option for full carbon fiber across the dash, center console, and door inserts. The electronically adjustable seats will gain much bigger bolsters, hugging the front passengers with increased support in anticipation of higher lateral loads. No such luck for anyone in the rear seat, but space for three will be maintained nonetheless.

The steering wheel will be the same three-spoke unit we’re all familiar with, trimmed in carbon fiber and bearing thumb controls for the infotainment system.

The steering wheel will be the same three-spoke unit we’re all familiar with, trimmed in carbon fiber and bearing thumb controls for the infotainment system. Paddle shifters made from aluminum will be in place behind the wheel for easy access. The pedals will be drilled aluminum with rubber inserts.

Instrumentation will include all-digital gear, such as a TFT touch screen, probably similar to the current 8.4-inch unit, plus a TFT driver’s information screen in the gauge cluster. Maserati’s classic analog clock will find a spot in the dash. Bowers & Wilkins will provide the music with a 17-speaker surround sound system. The latest in automated driving aides will come as standard.

In back, the Levante’s 20.5 cubic feet of cargo room will be maintained for when you need to haul more than just butt.

Drivetrain

So far, the Levante has been confirmed to bear a 3.0-liter V-6, boosted by two turbochargers to two levels of tune – 345 horsepower for the base model Levante, and 424 horsepower for the Levante S. There’s also a diesel, but we don’t really care about that.

What we do care about is performance, and with 424 ponies to play with, the Levante has plenty of that to offer. From standstill, the Levante S takes just 5.2 seconds to hit 62 mph – not bad for a 4,650-pound SUV.

However, if it’s gonna go up against the current breed of fire-breathing SUV’s, it’s gonna need a little more. Like at least another 100 horsepower more, or to be specific, the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 currently used in the Quattroporte GTS.

As is, this powerplant produces 523 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque in Maserati’s top-spec RWD sedan.

As is, this powerplant produces 523 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque in Maserati’s top-spec RWD sedan. Transplanted into the AWD Levante, and I see the SUV’s 0-to-60 mph sprint time dropping to around 4.5 seconds.

Again, that’s not too shabby, but I doubt Maserati will be content with that result. More than likely, the Trident will look to boost output even further – perhaps eclipsing the 575-horsepower mark.

With a number like that, the Levante would be able to positively blitz the competition, driving the 0-to-60 mph time down into the high three-second range.

Routing the power will be an eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF, the same transmission used on the current sixth-generation Quattroporte.

Chassis And Handling

The Levante is built on the same platform as the Quattroporte and Ghibli, and it should be a pretty stellar handler right out of the box. However, a GTS model will need even more to keep up with the extra output from that V-8.

To that end, the tires will be ultra-high-performance rubber, although all-seasons are likely to be an available option. The brakes will be upgraded to six-piston calipers at each corner, while the air suspension will be tweaked for more all-around stiffness. The AWD system will be retuned as well for even better rear-biased handling.

Finally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Maserati cut some of the curb weight and added a little chassis stiffness, just to round it out.

Prices

Look for the Maserati Levante GTS to make its grand debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March. We’re pegging the price tag to be around $120,000, far above the current top dog Levante S, which goes for $83,000.

Competition

Range Rover Sport SVR

2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR High Resolution Exterior
- image 563993

The fastest Land Rover available is the Range Rover Sport SVR, a 550-horsepower brick of supercharged V-8 insanity. Properly motivated, this speedy SUV will hit 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, and will continue on to a top speed of 162 mph. It’s got air springs, variable dampers, and an active exhaust that’ll make more of the good noise when the mood is right. SVR worked its magic on the inside too, with sport seats that come wrapped in leather.

Read our full review on the Range Rover Sport SVR].

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

2016 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S High Resolution Exterior
- image 610560

When Porsche dropped the Cayenne, the critics scoffed. The notion of a fast SUV from Stuttgart didn’t fit with their notion of what should be done, but the market spoke, and now, performance utility vehicles are everywhere. But of course, the original carries on, with the top of the totem pole occupied by the Cayenne Turbo S. With 570 horsepower hitting the ground via an eight-speed transmission and AWD, this thing will attain 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. Top speed is rated at 176 mph.

Read our full review on the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.

Conclusion

2018 Maserati Levante GTS Exterior Exclusive Renderings
- image 683874

Given the fact there’s already a prototype of the V-8 Levante confirmed, a GTS variant is looking mighty likely. But the real question is how it’ll play out in the segment two years from now when it releases. Will the base model soak up the demand for Maserati SUV’s, or will the buying public be clamoring for more? How about the competition? Where will the new benchmark lie in terms of performance expectations?

Only time will tell.

  • Leave it
    • * Very expensive
    • * Lots of competition already out there
    • * What will the market look like in a few years?

References

Maserati Levante

2016 Maserati Levante High Resolution Exterior
- image 667845

Read our full review on the 2017 Maserati Levante.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: