PONTIAC, Michigan – Driving a Maserati has long been a sign of exclusivity due to the extremely small number of units sold in Canada. However, the noble Italian brand experienced its first solid growth in 2014 when it introduced the Ghibli sedan on the market—100 years after the foundation of the trident.
A second burst occurred in 2017 with the launch of the Levante, Maserati’s first-ever SUV following a century of grand touring and sporty cars. This move to stay in the race by emulating its top competitors resulted in the company doubling its Canadian sales last year.
In order to achieve its next goal, which is to sell twice as many vehicles globally by 2022 as it does now, Maserati is preparing coupe and convertible variants of the gorgeous Alfieri concept to go along with a smaller SUV as well as all-new versions of the Levante and Quattroporte sedan. Hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric powertrains will be available across the line, too.
A pair of new, more muscular Levante SUVs
In the meantime, for the sake of profitability, Maserati still needs to keep expanding its portfolio, which is why the Levante GTS and Levante Trofeo are being introduced for 2019. These models feature a juiced-up version of the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine that currently powers the Quattroporte—a somewhat close copy of the 3.9-litre unit made by Ferrari, which continues to build Maserati engines at its Maranello plants.
Fun fact: Both the GTS and Trofeo were secretly designed by a small group of engineers at Maserati’s technical centre. Their intention was to go head-to-head with the big guns from Germany. Fascinated by the first prototype, company executives approved the fast-track development of two production models.
The V8 lying under the elegant, albeit classic skin of the Levante GTS generates 550 horsepower through an eight-speed automatic transmission coupled with the brand’s Q4 all-wheel drive system. Meanwhile, the more extroverted Levante Trofeo (black grille, dual hood scoops, carbon fibre spoiler, rocker panels, rear diffuser and engine cover) gets a 590-horsepower V8 with Italian-style red cylinder heads. It can be fitted with 22-inch alloy wheels, the largest ever offered on a Maserati.
As we wait for the next generation…
While a matte grey Trofeo model was on hand as mere eye candy, the GTS managed to impress us on the tight and rain-soaked track at M1 Concourse. Blessed with impeccably distributed weight and an AWD system sending all of the torque to the rear wheels in normal conditions (up to 50 percent can be transferred to the front wheels when needed), it displayed tremendous balance and always felt predictable in its actions despite the massive amount of torque. The level of agility and solid handling actually reminded me of its cousin, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, cream of the current crop of compact luxury SUVs. It’s no coincidence that Maserati will soon have a player in this segment.
What about the rest of the 2019 Maserati lineup? The Quattroporte and Ghibli sedans receive a new, more precise gear selector in addition to LED adaptive headlights. The GTS GranSport version of the former has also been slightly refreshed. Let’s not forget the GranTurismo convertible, which is now available in Sport and MC trim and motivated exclusively by the fabulous 454-horsepower, naturally aspirated V8.