2019 Maserati Levante GTS joins the fray with 550 horsepower

The Maserati Levante currently tops out with the 424-horsepower S but two new performance variants are being introduced for 2019.

One is the 590-horsepower Levante Trofeo (shown below) that we saw in March at the 2018 New York auto show. The other is the slightly tamer Levante GTS that Maserati unveiled Thursday.

The GTS features the same Ferrari-built 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 as the Trofeo, but here output is a lower 550 hp. That output is nothing to sneeze at and is much better value on a horsepower per dollar basis when you consider that the GTS is priced from $121,475. Be prepared to pay at least $171,475 if you want to step up to the Trofeo. Both figures include destination.

Maserati quotes a 0-60 mph time of 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 181 mph for the GTS. The Trofeo improves those numbers to 3.7 seconds and 187 mph, respectively.

With the GTS, the engineers didn’t just drop in the new engine and call it a day. The standard Levante chassis has been tuned to handle the higher power, with special attention paid to Maserati’s new Integrated Vehicle Control traction and stability control system being programmed for enhanced driving dynamics and road handling. The Levante’s adjustable air suspension has also been tuned for sportier dynamics and the brake package upgraded with six-piston calipers and 15-inch rotors at the front axle and 13-inch rotors at the rear.

Drive is to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic, rear limited-slip differential, and rear-biased all-wheel drive. In normal conditions as much as 100 percent of the drive torque is routed rearward. This can be swapped to a 50:50 split in as little as 150 milliseconds.

You’ll easily spot the V-8-powered versions of Maserati’s mid-size luxury SUV by the enlarged intakes in their front fascias compared to the V-6 models. The rear end also looks wider and more muscular with a sharper horizontal element and lower extractor that embrace the exhaust tips. A set of 20-inch wheels are standard on the GTS with 21- and 22-inch sizes available.

For the interior, the designers attempted to create a distinctive look for the GTS. Extra leather in combination with Alcantara is used throughout and is available with contrast stitching. All seats, as well as the sport steering wheel are heated, while the front seats are also ventilated. And the redesigned instrument cluster graphics resemble a chronograph dial and are inspired by Maserati’s racing heritage, underlining the sportiness of the GTS.

An 8.4-inch touchscreen display serves as the main infotainment hub. The system includes HD radio, Bluetooth, satellite navigation and supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is also standard, as opposed to the eight-speaker system fitted as standard on lesser Levantes.

Alternatives to the Levante GTS include the BMW X6 M, Lamborghini Urus, Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR, Mercedes-AMG GLE63 Coupe and Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

For 2019, all Levantes benefit from a redesigned gear shift lever, the Integrated Vehicle Control stability system, and extra trim options for the cabin. In some markets Maserati will also offer Matrix LED headlights, though the technology, which lets you leave you drive with high beams without blinding other drivers, is not legal in the United States yet.

Note, Maserati isn’t done expanding the Levante lineup. We should eventually see a Levante plug-in hybrid join the fold. The gasoline-electric SUV was confirmed by former Maserati CEO Harald Wester a year ago and is expected to feature the same setup found in the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

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