The automotive industry is an inherently advanced one. How far advanced ebbs and flows, but at a minimum, it’s consistently focused on the abutting archetypal year, the abutting model, and the abutting generation. Assignment begins bristles to seven years afore the accessible can put a dollar down, and the abutting one is already in advance bristles account afterwards the new one goes on sale. Although automakers assignment adamantine to accumulate up with the competition, schedules don’t consistently align, and you occasionally acquisition a brace of competitors at adverse ends of the development cycle. Competitors like these, the 2020 Maserati Levante Trofeo and the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe.
The 2020 Cayenne, as you may able-bodied know, is all new. Yeah, in the finest Porsche attitude it looks a lot like the old one, but it’s on a new belvedere and has new powertrains and a new interior. This archetype in authentic is abnormally new, as it introduces Porsche’s access into the inexplicably accepted SUV-coupe segment.
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More than aloof a raked roof, the auto models are now the sportier versions of the Cayenne beyond the board, and this Turbo comes animadversion with a twin-turbo V-8 with 541 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. Because it shares a belvedere with added Volkswagen Group products, it makes do with a torque advocate automated instead of Porsche’s own PDK gearbox, but it still drives all four auto at all times.
(Note: We don’t accept the Turbo S actuality because the alone Cayenne Turbo S is now the Turbo S E-Hybrid, which is added able but additionally heavier. That’s acceptable for ability and ammunition efficiency, beneath so for handling.)
The Levante Trofeo, meanwhile, is a somewhat contempo accession to the Levante lineup, now in its fifth year on the market. Added critically, for affidavit you’ll anon understand, it shares a belvedere with Maserati’s two sedans. This belvedere stretches aback to 2013. Not the oldest belvedere on the market, but it’s a bearing abaft Porsche.
Initially offered alone with twin-turbocharged V-6 engines, the Levante was a acute advantage but lacked the activity bare to partake in a allegory like this. With the accession of a twin-turbocharged V-8, however, things got a lot added interesting. This Trofeo model, the mightiest of the Maseratis, huffs out 590 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque by way of the aforementioned ZF-sourced eight-speed auto as the Porsche, and that ability goes to all four wheels. This is a able matchup. On paper, anyway.
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Levante Trofeo vs. Cayenne Turbo Coupe: Powertrain Showdown
It starts off able-bodied enough. Maybe it’s the way the Trofeo rears aback aback you accord it a kick, or maybe it’s the way the Ferrari-built and programmed V-8 meters its turbo addition to alike out the ability delivery, but the Maserati actually rips. Compared to added turbocharged V-8s, it feels bendable at the basal end because it doesn’t hit you in the face with a bank of torque. Like the old artlessly aspirated V-8s the agent computer emulates, it builds ability in a amaranthine beachcomber so that things actually alpha to get absorbing in the midrange, and it actually screams on the top end. Again you hit the abutting gear, and the agent drops appropriate aback into that midrange, and you get to bethink the best allotment of the powerband afresh until the abutting upshift aback you get to do it again.
“The agent doesn’t complete actual acceptable inside,” alley analysis editor Chris Walton said. “It’s actually the deadened bankrupt of a turbo. But what an agent it is. Bright and beeline like the Ferrari 488, but I could actually faculty it was hardly abounding advance a abundant SUV bottomward the road.”
The turbos do actually band a lot of babble over the admirable bankrupt agenda central the vehicle, but association on the alfresco are advised to the best turbo V-8 babble around, so at atomic addition gets to adore it.
The Porsche sounds bigger inside—when you can apprehend it. Although it isn’t as able as the Maserati, it has the torque, and it’s not abashed to appearance it. Any time you put the pedal down, a billow of pent-up ability is appear on the asphalt. You don’t get the aforementioned hair-on-fire activity as the aggravate sweeps against redline, but it ain’t slow, either.
The Cayenne was, however, captivated aback hardly by its manual programming—highly abnormal for a Porsche, but then, this is a new manual to the cast alike admitting acutely every added automaker has been application it for years. Walton and chief appearance editor Jonny Lieberman both bidding balmy disappointment in it for not allotment apparatus with the aforementioned telepathy as Porsche’s centralized dual-clutch automated transmission, bigger accepted as PDK. It fabricated a few accidental accouterment actuality and there, which it had to go aback and correct, and it had a addiction to abatement out of footfall with the disciplinarian if you backed off the burke for added than a few seconds. Let the car bank through a continued abundant sweeper, and alike in its sharpest mode, the manual would aback accord up and baddest the accomplished gear, bold you were done accepting fun. Put your bottom aback in it, and you’d bolt it flat-footed for a beat. Some companies would annihilate to affairs transmissions this well, but by Porsche standards, it misses the mark.
Maserati isn’t one of those companies. Years of acquaintance with this manual accept imparted ability in programming it. The Maser never absent a shift, and if you put it in Action or Corsa mode, it never backed off. You told it you capital to play, and it came to play. And if you appetite to about-face it yourself aloof for giggles, well, I’ll let Walton acquaint you.
“Maserati gets a benefit point for the best acceptable paddle shifter here,” he said. “Genuine metal with a acceptable bulk of biking and aloof the appropriate complete aback you grab a gear.”
Trouble is, the powertrain administration is the alone one area the Trofeo can authority a candle to the Turbo Auto (maybe in design, too, but that’s actually subjective).
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Levante Trofeo vs. Cayenne Turbo Coupe: The Administration Hook
We’ll alpha with the big one: handling. Appearance editor Christian Seabaugh, MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina, Jonny, and I, afterwards talking about it, all compared the Turbo Coupe’s administration to a 911 Carrera. The anatomy ascendancy is perfect. It hunkers bottomward and jukes like a sports car. At no point does it anytime feel like it weighs added than 2.5 tons. Porsche has addled that ideal antithesis we attending for in a Best Driver’s Car winner: aloof abundant anatomy cycle to accomplish you feel actually invested in the drive but choleric by millimeter-precise ascendancy and absolute grip. Brace that with absolute acquiescence in the suspension, alike beneath load, to blot bumps, and you can’t ask for added from a agent except for the acceleration all-important to actually accomplishment this capability, and the Porsche has affluence of that.
“It’s as if it’s anchored to the acme with a chain,” Walton said, “and you’re aloof forth for the ride. Yet there’s abundant anchor jerk allowance in the arrangement (e.g., abstention a bedrock in a corner) that allows near-limit administration with adaptability in case you allegation it.”
Jonny, afterwards talking to Walton about it, said the aforementioned thing: “You’re able to accomplish mid-corner corrections afterwards abashing the SUV. Actual impressive. That said, you don’t allegation to accomplish abounding mid-corner corrections because the Turbo Auto is so candid and accurate. You tend to accept the actual council angle—a mark of a well-engineered…thing.”
The council actually is that good, too. For an electrically assisted arbor in a 5,000-plus-pound SUV, anyway. Look, it’s never activity to feel like 911 steering, but abuse if Porsche didn’t accord its best effort. The Maserati’s council is quick and precise, but the Porsche’s is added so while additionally accouterment far added alley feel than the broken Trofeo.
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“Its council is absolute and immediate,” Seabaugh said. “It’s consistently cautiously transmitting from the alley up to the Alcantara-wrapped caster what’s activity on.”
Then there’s the Maserati. Remember how I said its anatomy is a bearing behind? The abeyance makes this assuredly clear. There’s far added biking in the suspension, which translates to added vertical motion in the berth every time there’s a bump. You feel the abeyance bind up again absolution and shoot you advancement aback it hits a big bump, or actually bend again bind up as the anatomy catches up aback it drops into a dip. It allegation be said it absorbs the acerbity of these bumps as able-bodied as the Porsche does, but admitting the Porsche seems to handle it all in the alone corners, the Maserati uses the accomplished agent to blow the energy. Every action, actuality jumped up or aeroembolism down, has an according and adverse acknowledgment as you’re launched the added way. Lots of these high-performance SUV things acclimated to do this, but it’s been acquainted out of the latest generations. Hopefully, it’ll be acquainted out of the Maserati’s abutting generation.
As abundant as the anatomy bounces up and down, the affair does adhere on, alike aback those bounces appear mid-corner. I wasn’t a fan of the aboriginal bristles ancestors of Continental SportContact tires, but the SportContact6 assuredly combines anchor with longevity. There was a time that the footstep blocks (especially on the alfresco shoulder) would attending like arena beef afterwards one acceptable run, but these authority up as able-bodied as they authority on. It’s abnormally notable because how abundant the agent is affective about on top of the rubber—loading and auction the tires as you go.
“There’s a authentic point area the Levante Trofeo feels excellent,” Jonny said, “when you’re aloof accomplished acme and rolling on the power. Suddenly, aggregate makes sense, and yeah, man, you’re in a air-conditioned SUV. But the blow of the time, it aloof doesn’t feel as good.”
That moment is actually aback the alive rear cogwheel engages. The Porsche has one, too, but it engages seamlessly. You never feel it working. You feel the Maser’s. Get it set up in the bend and cycle on the throttle, and you’ll anon feel the alfresco rear caster actuality busy and blame you about the corner. With the agent aerial on its horsepower, the manual in the appropriate gear, and the abeyance settled, you feel for a moment the abeyant this affair has.
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Levante Trofeo vs. Cayenne Turbo Coupe: Anchor Stuff
Then you get to the bend and hit the brakes and the moment passes. For animate brakes on a 5,000-pound SUV, these are appealing good. For a time. There allegation be a lot of anchor cooling activity on because they adhere in there for a while, but again the pedal gets best and longer. It still stops, but you actually feel like you care to aback off afore it doesn’t and let the smoke clear. Shockingly, appallingly, inexplicably, Maserati won’t advertise you a carbon-ceramic anchor advancement on this thing. The Brembo branch is a two-hour drive from Maserati apple headquarters. This is absurd.
Porsche, however, will actually advertise you carbon-ceramic brakes, and the units are as absolute as the chassis. The anchor pedal feels as if it’s been aerial allotment and bindle from the 911, with all the tactility and adaptability you apprehend from a Porsche. You accept astronomic endlessly ability on hand, but you can attune it with the burden of your toes in your shoe.
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Here’s the allotment area I accomplish a baby alibi for the Maserati. Aback off a bit, and drive it quickly, but not like you’re ambience a condoning lap, and it all works appealing well. At 75 percent capacity, neither the anatomy nor the brakes are overtaxed. The Porsche, though, is never overtaxed. Ever. Nor does the agreeableness abrasion off aback you apathetic down. The Cayenne is as nice to drive slower—and alike slowly—as the Maserati is, whether you’re aloof out for a Sunday drive or sitting in traffic.
Levante Trofeo vs. Cayenne Turbo Coupe: Berth Fever
There’s no answer the Maserati’s interior, though. Whether it’s the switches and stalks plucked beeline from the Dodge genitalia bin, the bromidic design, or the Barcalounger action seats that leave you sliding all over the abode and aggravating to brace with knees, elbows, and annihilation else, it’s aloof a anticlimax beyond the board. Sure, the abstracts are actually nice, from the covering to the Alcantara and those aluminum about-face paddles, but all are laid over a architecture that’s bourgeois at best. Alike the infotainment arrangement is the atomic automated abundance of FCA’s ablaze Uconnect setup, as it’s abounding with an odd alignment of functions.
Not that the Porsche’s autogenous is perfect. It’s actual avant-garde and tech-forward, which is cool, but all the piano-black touch-sensitive surfaces are a smudge-fest, and the infotainment arrangement is heavily layered and bulky to navigate. Otherwise, it’s appealing good. And the seats are great.
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The Porsche is additionally $20,000 cheaper to start, did I acknowledgment that? Maserati wants $151,485 minimum for a Levante Trofeo, tens of bags added than about every added agent in the class. Alone Bentley and Lamborghini allegation added for a air-conditioned SUV. Porsche, of course, will get you with the options. In this case, $27,000 worth, authoritative this Cayenne Turbo Auto $4,375 added big-ticket than the Maserati as tested. But anticipate about that for a minute. You can put 20 admirable account of options on a Cayenne that already outperforms and out-luxuries the Maserati and still breach even. It’s alike added afflictive aback you apperceive Maserati was allurement $170,000 for the affair up until this archetypal year.
This is the allotment area I’m declared to acquaint you the Italians accept alloyed some mesmerizing, abstract body in the Maserati that makes all its shortcomings forgivable and forgettable. The sound, the look, the way it makes you feel, some “X factor,” as Jonny brand to alarm it. Sorry, not this time.
“The Maser is at its best in a vacuum,” Seabaugh said, speaking for all of us. “On its own, on the accessible road, it feels powerful, fast, and fun, but aback apprenticed aback to aback with the Porsche, it’s absolutely bright how outclassed it is.”
This didn’t attending like a askew allegory on paper, but that’s why we do what we do. I’ll let Cortina comedy us out: “I accumulate actuality afflicted with how accurate Porsche is in affability its cars. They attending at every detail to accomplish abiding it delivers the way it’s declared to, and for that reason, they accumulate acceptable comparisons.”