If you want a really fast Italian SUV this is it, unless you can afford a 2019 Lamborghini Urus

Maserati’s table is full at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, although nothing is genuinely new, and the most interesting model on its stand has to be the Levante Trofeo Launch Edition. The Italian manufacturer unveiled the Trofeo with its 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged, V-8 last year but the model is only going on sale now. Only 100 of the ’Launch Edition’ models will be sold worldwide. Maserati really tries to keep its sporting credentials alive. It still stuffs Ferrari-derived engines in its vehicles and still puts out ’angry’ versions throughout its lineup. Of course, the Trident is no longer seen in competition much nowadays - even a deal to partner with Haas as a branding exercise in F1 fell through. And some criticize the way the company has reused some of its famous nameplates, particularly the Ghibli. But, after all is said and done, Maserati remains as one of the few carmakers in the world that can sell you a +580 horsepower SUV.

What Makes the 2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo Launch Edition Special?

2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo Launch Edition
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Boo-hoo! Maserati isn’t packing any novelties in its bag for the Geneva Auto Show in 2019, which is quite frustrating. The GranTurismo is desperately seeking to retire but it will stick around at least until next year, and that leaves us to talk about either the Levante or some special Pelletessuta interiors featuring woven Nappa leather. Levante wins this one.

So, what do we have here? Under the skin, nothing is new and, as such, all the ’Launch Edition’ has to show for itself is out in the open.

Maserati's first trick was to dress the first 100 Levantes in three otherwise unique colors: called Blu Emozione Matte, Giallo Modenese, and Rosso Magma.

We’ve received images of the special blue color, and the exquisite Giallo (more of a desert gold tint,) and the blue does stand out. Although, in my book, it’s not as pretty as the tint used on the 90th-anniversary models all the way back in 2005.

2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo Launch Edition
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Beside the cheeky paint job, the ’Launch Edition’ comes forth with 22-inch Orione 15-spoke wheels and an array of carbon fiber inserts all over the body. These include the fins that border the outer edge of the side air vents in the front bumper as well as the diffuser in the back. The Levante Trofeo already looks sporty enough thanks to the three big inlets in the nose, the big trapezoidal one in the middle complemented by two others on either side, all three sitting below the main rounded grille. The latter features eight chromed bars that tilt inward in the middle to give you the impression the Maserati Trident is floating in front of them. To set apart every Trofeo, these trucks will have the ’Saetta’ logo on their C-pillars.

According to Maserati, you can have the huge rims painted in either glossy black or matte black while the calipers behind them can be yellow, silver, blue, or red.

The huge wheels are wrapped in Continental SportContact 6 rubber. All four of these tires will take the hit when you hit the loud pedal as the Levante Trofeo, including the ’Launch Edition,’ is fitted with Maserati’s Q4 AWD system. From inside the Levante, you can choose one of a few driving modes including Normal, I.C.E., Sport, Off-Road, and Corsa that comes with a Launch Control function. Then there’s the IVC, Maserati’s Integrated Vehicle Control system that "prevents vehicle instability, instead of correcting “driver mistakes” as a traditional Electronic Stability Program (ESP) system does," according to Maserati.

2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo Launch Edition
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Away from the posh interior and aggressive exterior, the Levante Trofeo really means business. It’s powered by the F154 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged, V-8 engine assembled at Ferrari’s plant in Maranello. The unit isn’t a twin of the 488’s as it has been thoroughly modified. In fact, the engine in the Levante Trofeo is different from that of the Maserati Quattroporte GTS: it has a new crankcase design, oil pump, auxiliary belt, turbochargers, cylinder heads, and more, according to Car & Driver. It’s also more powerful than in its sedan application.

The Trofeo puts out 585 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 538 pound-feet of torque from 2,500 rpm - in other words, 67 horsepower and 14 pound-feet of torque over the Quattroporte.

With this engine, the Levante Trofeo can go from naught to 62 mph in 4.1 seconds while it needs 0.3 seconds less to reach 60 mph. Its top speed is 186 mph, 22 mph quicker than the Levante S. Then again, the S lacks 158 horsepower and 110 pound-feet compared to the Trofeo’s output. That’s because the S isn’t supposed to be pitted against the Trofeo, but the GTS should be.

Why? Well, because it’s $120,000, or $50,000 cheaper than the Trofeo and hides the same 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged, V-8 under the hood. It only makes 542 horsepower, but torque is the same. Also, the top speed is lower, 181 mph, and the GTS is also slower to 60 mph by almost half a second because it lacks the Launch Control feature. Otherwise, both employ the ZF eight-speed automatic. We discussed at length if the fat premium for a Trofeo is worth it or not.

2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo Launch Edition
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I’m going to have a stab at answering that question myself, but by comparing the Trofeo to other super-fast SUVs. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo, for example, can deploy only 541 horsepower but it will launch a bit better thanks to its 577 pound-feet of torque. It also starts at just $125,000 and reaches 60 mph from a standing start just as fast but is ten mph slower, so you’ll leave one behind on the Autobahn if you’re on an empty enough strip of the Autobahn in your Trofeo.

Then there’s BMW’s offering, be it the X5M or the X6M as both pump out 567 horsepower. They’re 0.2 seconds slower to 60 mph but the 553 pound-feet of torque already beats the Trofeo by 15 torques, and the whole package costs about $100,000. The Mercedes GLE63 AMG is similar in performance to the BMW with 577 horses and 561 pound-feet of torque in S trim. All that oomph comes courtesy of a 5.5-liter V-8 that takes you from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds (4.2 seconds in the non-S version). That’s very respectable when you take into account that the Merc is 520 pounds heftier.

2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo Launch Edition
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From Britain, you must consider the $113,600 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR, a former lap record holder for SUVs at the Nurburgring with a time of 8 minutes and 14 seconds. Since then, obviously, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio went quicker posting a lap in 7 minutes, 51.7. Then again, the Stelvio is a more compact SUV tipping the scales at just 3,660 pounds, almost 1,000 pounds lighter than the Maserati. Couple this with the power source, a 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged, V-6 that churns out 503 horsepower and you understand while the Range Rover Sport SVR was left in a cloud of dust.

But back to our topic and the SVR. Land Rover’s quickest SUV is motivated by the sweet-sounding 5.0-liter, naturally-aspirated, V-8 that puts down 575 ponies. That’s just 10 down on the Levante Trofeo, but you can notice this in the slower 0 to 60 mph time and the 155 mph top speed.

So, the Levante Trofeo is really damn fast, right? Well, yes, it is, but it pales in comparison to one SUV in particular - and no, I'm not talking about the Urus.

I’m talking about the 707 horsepower Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk powered by the 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 off the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. It also rocks the ground with 645 pound-feet of torque, 107 more than the Levante. All that at an MSRP of just $88,145. The cons? The rough ride and the obvious lack of refinement (and, may I add, poorer build quality) when parked next to Germany’s BMWs, Porsches or even the Italian Levante.

2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo Launch Edition
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Is it worth it? To put it plainly, not really. I mean the run-of-the-mill Trofeo already costs $171,475 with taxes, and that’s just too much when you consider that the ultra-exclusive ’Launch Edition’ will be even more expensive than that. If you want a roomy cabin, a nice blue exterior, and enviable performance you should go for something like the BMW Alpina B7 xDrive that costs $139,795. The other positive besides the fact that you save over $30,000 is that you get 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque that translate to a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.6 seconds. And you’ll actually be able to drive it properly, because this isn’t a tall SUV, although the 7 Series-based B7 is no lithe sports car either.

Or, if a full-size sedan doesn’t tick all your boxes and you also look for towing capacity, you can pick the Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR and if you want similar build quality to that Alpina just run to your nearest BMW/Merc dealership. Lastly, if exclusivity is what you’re after you might as well pony up $30,000 more and gift yourself the daddy, the Urus with 650 horsepower at 6,000 and 627 pound-feet of torque from 2,250 rpm. You’ll reach 60 mph quicker (3.6 seconds), go faster (190 mph top speed) and, as cool as Maseratis once were, the Lamborghini badge easily outguns the Trident in 2019.

Alright, enough about the Levante! What else is Maserati bringing to the 2019 Geneva Motor Show?

2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo Launch Edition
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Funny you should ask because Maserati does indeed bring a lot of other stuff to Geneva. Quoting the press release, you can look forward to "an instructive tour through three different dedicated thematic areas. Each area will feature a display of tools, materials, and components that, specially crafted by Zegna, De Castelli and Giorgetti, bear witness to the unending quest for excellence, style, and originality, typical of products designed and Made in Italy, and therefore typical of Maserati." In other words, Maserati will exhibit some of the luxurious materials you can opt for your Maserati if you can afford it.

What is more, if you happen to be into cars, you can also spot the GranTurismo MC (short for Maserati Corse, more racing-related lingo to instill in you the idea that Maserati’s DNA is one with competition), the Ghibli, and the Quattroporte.

Of the Ghiblis, for instance, one in S trim stands out with all-wheel-drive on deck, Zegna Pelletessuta interior upholstery, and 21-inch Helios wheels.

Finally, if wrist watches rock your boat, Maserati will have a couple behind a glassed case for you to drool at. They are the Octo Maserati GranLusso and the Octo Maserati GranSport by Bulgari and, beware; they are "specifically intended for owners of the Brand’s cars," so if you order a watch and intend to go home in your BMW or whatnot, think again! Happily, though, if you want to bag some goodies anyway, Maserati will also display the Ermenegildo Zegna Maserati Capsule Collection for Spring Summer 2019 comprising various leather goods, travel clothing and tasteful accessories that you can wear in any car.

Further reading

Maserati Levante Trofeo grabs Porsche Cayenne Turbo by the throat with V-8 engine Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Maserati Levante Trofeo.

5 Amazing Surprises on the First Day of The Goodwood Festival of Speed
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Read our full review on the 2019 Maserati Levante GTS.

2016 Maserati Levante High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2016 Maserati Levante.

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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