2017 Maserati Levante By Startech Review

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This time last year, Maserati was preparing to unveil the Levante SUV at the Geneva Motor Show. Not only was it a signal of the Italian automaker’s intentions to go all-in on the premium SUV market, but it also marked a big move to expand its own lineup past the usual coupes and sedans that it was offering. Fast forward to this week and the Maserati Levante is once again headed to Geneva, although this time, it’s German tuner Starch that’s bringing the SUV with it to the biggest auto show in the world.

The Brabus-owned aftermarket firm is no stranger to these types of events since it’s been a regular fixture in Geneva over the past few years. But that was then, and this is now. And as far as “now” goes, the Levante is taking center stage at the Startech booth where it will be showcased in full aftermarket regalia, complete with a new body kit, a massive set of wheels, and the promise of interior and engine upgrades, both of which will come at a later date.

So yes, it’s technically an incomplete program, but don’t take that against Startech. If anything, the strategy to showcase just a part of the full Levante tuning experience can be seen as a way to build up the kit ahead of when the interior amenities and the power and performance boosts are ready to be unveiled. That’s certainly one of way looking at it and for what it’s worth – literally and figuratively – the aerodynamic body kit Startech prepared for the Levante does warrant a place in Geneva.

Now if only the tuner had a definite timetable and when the interior and performance upgrades will arrive…

Exterior

Maserati Levante by Startech

Think the Maserati Levante already looks as if it’s perpetually in a bad mood with that mean-looking face and body? Well, think again because Startech just took that raging look of the Italian SUV and dialled it all the way up to 11 with an aero kit that’s certainly worth its weight in aggressiveness.

First up is the front spoiler, which not only gives the Levante a more distinctive profile, but it also helps reduce lift on the front axle and improve overall stability, especially at high speeds. That’s a particularly useful tool for an SUV that already has 430 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque at its disposal. Imagine then how useful that spoiler’s going to be once Startech has an engine upgrade that could turn that Ferrari-sourced 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine into a 600-horsepower, fire-breathing monster?

Maserati Levante by Startech

Startech just took that raging look of the Italian SUV and dialled it all the way up to 11 with an aero kit that’s certainly worth its weight in aggressiveness.

Move past the front spoiler and your attention should be directed to the opposite end of the Levante where a rear bumper attachment and a rear diffuser can be installed to create a more refined look to the section similar to the aesthetic effects of the spoiler on the front end. It’s also nice to see the four tailpipes of the SUV get housed in a casing of sorts as opposed to their traditional configuration of hanging below the bumper.

Turn your gaze to the roof spoiler and you’ll notice a pair of C-blades that can be attached to the opposite sides of the tailgate. Like its body kit counterparts, these C-blades serve more than just cosmetic purposes; they also help in ensuring a calmer flow of air to the back, helping the spoiler in that regard while reducing the load carried by the spoiler, allowing it to also concentrate on improving the downforce on the rear axle of the SUV.

Rounding out the exterior upgrades on the Maserati Levante is Startech’s own set of 21-inch, five-spoke Monostar M wheels wrapped in 265/40 ZR21 tires in the front and 295/35R 21 tires at the back.

What are other tuners are offering

There aren’t a lot of programs available for the Maserati Levante yet so in lieu of one, I’m calling an audible and throwing a program here that was developed for one of the Levant’s biggest rivals, the Jaguar F-Pace.

This particularly raunchy program comes by way of Lumma Design, which presented it back in August 2016. As you can see, Lumma’s work on the SUV’s exterior is pretty extensive in its own right, highlighted no less by a number of carbon fiber PU-RIM body styling components that include a new front bumper, a custom hood, wheel arch extensions, side skirts, and a new rear apron. A new set of 24-inch ultra light alloy wheels complete Lumma’s exterior program for the F-Pace. It’s no shock that the common objective between the tuners is to make their project cars lighter and more dynamic to look at. On that note, it’s hard to tell which one succeeded more in doing that because both kits do wonders to their respective subjects.

Jaguar F-Pace By Lumma Design

Note: photo of the Jaguar F-Pace by Lumma Design

What Maserati is offering

More than what you’d expect actually. It might come as a surprise to most people, but Maserati actually has a pretty long list of packages available for its new SUV. Some common item packages like the Sport Metallic Package and Sport Dark Package come with a sport rear spoiler, lower body moldings, and a choice of wheels and brake calipers. There’s also an Easy Access Package that equips with the Levante with a trailer tow bar and a kick sensor.

Suffice to say, there are plenty of packages to choose from as far as Maserati is concerned. It may even come to the point that availing of these options to complement Startech’s own aero package doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all.

Interior

Startech’s interior upgrade program for the Levante should be shown in some form or fashion at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. There are no photos to speak of at the moment, but the tuner did say that it has plenty to offer in this section, not the least of which include tailor-made carbon elements for the dashboard, center console and door panels. Wood trim sets are also available should there be interest in them.

The tuner is even offering these sets up in a variety of colors, grains, and surface finishes, all of which pretty much add to create a bespoke-looking cabin that’s up to the standards of those who own a Levante. And of course, no interior upgrade program is complete without premium leather and fine Alcantara. Startech has both materials in spades so expect plenty of those to be offered once the whole menu of aftermarket materials become available.

What other tuners are offering

We’re going back to Lumma Design’s program for the Jaguar F-Pace to get an accurate picture of what Startech has to compete with. Fortunately, tuners who are on the level of Startech and Lumma are likely to offer the same list of premium upgrades, which is exactly what owners of the F-Pace stand to receive from the latter’s very own design studio. Generous helpings of fine leather and Alcantara are a given, as are the contrast trim inserts and a choice of either carbon fiber and traditional wood veneers on those cabin surfaces. Even items like aluminum pedals and floor mats are included in Lumma’s interior upgrade program for the British SUV. Bet you didn’t see those coming, did you?

What Maserati is offering

Maserati Levante

If you’re not familiar with the scope of packages that Maserati has to offer the Levante, then prepare yourselves for a doozy of choices. For example, the aforementioned Sport Metallic and Sport Dark packages come with 12-way seats, metallic-finished skid plates, brushed stainless steel sports pedals, leather trim, and a sport steering wheel that can be dressed up in either leather or carbon fiber. Oh, and this is the good one: the Luxury Zegna Package, which comes with an interior awash in silk from the world famous Italian fashion brand.

Drivetrain

Maserati Levante by Startech

There are no upgrades to the Maserati Levante at the moment, but there is a caveat. Startech itself mentioned that upgrades for the twin-turbo V-6 gasoline engine and the six-cylinder turbo diesel engine are in the pipeline so at least that’s something that’s worth looking forward to.

In the meantime, we can take solace knowing that the German tuner is working on something for an SUV that already packs as much as 430 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque under its hood. And since these upgrades traditionally end up with the car getting more power, it’s reasonable to expect at least 500 horsepower to come out of whatever Startech is developing at this moment. Who knows, 500 ponies might even turn out to be a conservative estimate. Could a 600-horsepower, Startech-tuned Maserati Levante be on the table? I certainly wouldn’t put it past the German tuner to get to that number.

At the very least, I think we can expect something similar to what Lumma Design was able to coax out of the Jaguar F-Pace’s V-6 engine. Remember, the tuner claims that its engine upgrade program for the Jag nets an output of 480 horsepower, 100 more than the stock 380-horsepower model.

Let’s all hope then that Startech drops the details sooner than later. I for one am eager to see what a tuned-up Maserati Levante is going to feel like on the road.

Pricing

Maserati Levante by Startech

Needless to say, pricing details for Startech’s tuning kit for the Maserati Levante is still one big question mark. That’s likely going to remain as is until the tuner drops information on the interior and engine upgrades. In the meantime, customers can take comfort knowing that they’re not in any danger of having to make that “decision” anytime soon.

Competition

Whatever Tuning Program Comes Out For The Alfa Romeo Stelvio

I know, I know. This is an unorthodox way of bringing a competitor up for Startech’s kit for the Levante. But let’s be real about it too. The Levante and Stelvio, despite being cousins, are going to be rivals sooner than later. That’s just how the lay of the land of the premium SUV market is set up. And just as the sky is blue and the grass is green, you can be sure that the Stelvio will become the apple of the aftermarket tuning world’s eye once it hits the road. Soon enough, we’re going to have the first program offered for the new SUV, at which point we can finally size up both of SUVs – and the F-Pace for that matter – to see which of these new premium whippersnappers are ready to take on the big leaguers of the segment.

Conclusion

Maserati Levante by Startech

It’s still an incomplete for reasons that should be obvious by now. Granted, the aerodynamic body kit is actually impressive so at least Startech already has that going for it. Here’s to hoping that then it can sustain this momentum and provide interior and engine upgrades that can live up to the standards of the aero kit.

LOVE IT

  • Aero kit is a big plus
  • One of the first programs for the Levante
  • Very promising start
LEAVE IT

  • Still incomplete
  • Competitors should come up with their own programs soon
  • No timetable yet for the full scope of upgrades

(topspeed.com, https://goo.gl/a8zhVk)

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