There’s nothing quite like pulling up to the supermarket in a Maserati. It feels simultaneously anticlimactic and epic. Like you’re stopping off at New World on your way to The Met Gala. Because wherever a Maserati goes, there is a sense of presence and purpose and ceremony that goes with it. Even if you’re wearing trackpants, hauling groceries into its generous boot space. Even with a yoghurt-covered toddler in the back. (Yes, even then.) And it’s something that I have decided to call Maserati magic — a spell that cannot be broken, no matter how mundane your day might be. Let me explain…
When I was given Maserati’s exceptional Levante Trofeo to drive for a short time, I was excited, then concerned. After all, this was the SUV of all SUVs, the pinnacle of Maserati performance and style, a car that was designed to do it all. But as a mum to a young child, I wondered if it could actually do it all, for me?
Gingerly I sat behind the wheel, looking around at the sleek, sophisticated trim of the Levante Trofeo’s interiors. It was like driving a high-end Italian fashion boutique around Auckland. The top-of-the-range Trofeo is renowned for its luxurious finishes, from the carbon fibre details to the ‘full grain’ natural leather sports seats to the 21-inch alloy wheels with eye-popping red brake calipers, and the effect of these elements when seen from its driver’s seat infuses the whole experience with an unparalleled sense of sophistication and comfort. It also gave me my first indication of what to expect when the car roared into life.
What a roar, indeed. The Maserati Levante Trofeo represents, for anyone who doesn’t know, the pinnacle of Maserati performance. Under the elegant hood lies an impressive V8 twin-turbo engine (the most powerful in Maserati’s history). It marks the evolution of the brand’s signature Quattroporte GTS engine, recently reconfigured to deliver a whopping 590 horsepower — the highest horsepower-to-litre ratio of any Maserati SUV, ever. Let that sink in.
“Under the elegant hood lies an impressive V8 twin-turbo… the evolution of the brand’s signature Quattroporte GTS engine, recently reconfigured to deliver a whopping 590 horsepower — the highest horsepower-to-litre ratio of any Maserati SUV, ever.”
As I was, about to run some errands (that definitely didn’t feel worthy of the car in which I was doing them), I wondered about how practical this impressive engine was going to be while navigating the busy and often-narrow streets of Ponsonby and Herne Bay. Once I took off, however, I never looked back. Is the Maserati Levante Trofeo powerful? Yes. It delivers the kind of grunt that forces you to drive with awareness and precision, and the kind of purr that only a Maserati could make — smooth, definitive and loud without ever feeling obnoxious. “Is that the car I can hear,” my husband asked when I called him via CarPlay. It was, I said, contentedly cocooned in the cockpit of what I had already decided was going to be my next runabout. (A girl can dream, right?)
And while it certainly felt like a step up from my normal wheels, the beauty (I discovered) of the Levante Trofeo is that it is actually perfect for around town. Quickly dispelling my questions of practicality via its effortless, comfortable drive, it was easy to forget about the Trofeo’s beast-like performance while whipping from the supermarket to the post-office to the store; reminded only when breaks in my music were filled by that recogniseable sound of the signature, Maserati hum. (Maserati magic at play, if you will.)
Once the groceries were done and the errands were run, I decided to take the Trofeo to the open road before picking up my daughter, quickly finding that there were a few more surprises left. The Levante Trofeo boasts an all-new (and exclusive) ‘Corsa’ mode that offers yet another performance level after ‘Normal,’ ‘I.C.E’, ‘Off-Road’ and ‘Sport’, and turns the SUV into something that feels entirely at-odds with its category. Not only does Corsa mode immediately improve the responsiveness of the Trofeo’s engine, but it ensures faster shifts, reduced traction control, lower positioning of the air suspension and optimised settings for the Q4 intelligent, all-wheel drive. With Corsa, the Levante Trofeo transforms into something that I can only compare to the kinds of svelte, aerodynamic, low-to-the-ground sports cars that struggle to make it over speed bumps. And yet, there was I, cruising like an F1 driver on the stunning strip of motorway between the City and Greenlane with a car seat in the back and a week’s worth of nappies and toilet paper in the boot, enjoying a drive that I’m sure would impress even the most discerning, most Top Gear-watching, most picky petrol-heads in the world.
Really, the Trofeo represents the pinnacle of the performance-style-drive trifecta that Maserati incorporates so seamlessly into all of its cars. From its jaw-dropping good looks to its breathtaking performance capabilities, it is a car that truly does it all — and looks utterly effortless in the process.
For me, it was the specific way that the Levante Trofeo infused the mundanity of everyday tasks with a sprinkling of something special. It commanded attention (and a few lingering, wistful looks) without begging for it, and made its presence known on the road without shouting. I never thought a car by a marque as historic and sporty as Maserati (and particularly a car of such technical power as this one) would be something I could use as my daily drive, but the Maserati Levante Trofeo proved me wrong. If I could take it to the supermarket everyday, I would. But in the meantime, I’ll be hanging on to as much of that Maserati magic as I can, in the hope that one day, I’ll get to experience the real thing again.