2017 Maserati Levante Esteso By Novitec Review

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Let me put this out there. The Maserati Levante SUV is not getting as much love as it should. Think about it. The premium SUV market is dominated by the likes of the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X6, and Mercedes-Benz GLE. Go a little bit further and SUVs like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Jaguar F-Pace, Bentley Bentayga and even the yet-to-be released Lamborghini Urus and Rolls-Royce Cullinan are getting more publicity than the Levante. It’s a shame because the Maserati SUV is arguably the best-looking of all of them and its 430-horsepower output isn’t anything to sneeze at. Thankfully, the aftermarket tuning world has not forgotten about the Levante and we see that on full display with Novitec’s Esteso program that helps the SUV achieve power levels to the tune of 494 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque.

Those numbers may still fall short of what other automakers are offering with their stock SUVs, but don’t mistake that for a weakness on the Levante’s part. After all, 494 horsepower is still a load to deal with. Add that to a full wide-body kit from Novitec that includes pretty much everything but the kitchen sink and you get a Levante that not only looks the part of a sporty and aggressive SUV, but one that also performs like one. So in the absence of hype relative to what other SUVs are getting, let Novitec’s Esteso program remind us of the Levante’s potential to look and perform just as well as its competitors in its segment.

Exterior

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Novitec’s Esteso kit for the Maserati Levante is the kind of program owners of the SUV will appreciate if they want to make their Levantes stand out. The full, wide-body aero kit is made up of eight different parts and when pieced all together, the whole kit not only add as much as four inches of width in the front section, but another five inches in the back. The tuner says that it’s able to increase the Levante’s overall width to 82.3 inches. If you’re into comparisons, that’s 0.2 inches slimmer than the obnoxiously wide Maserati MC12 supercar.

The kit itself is made up of front and rear spoilers, a hood scoop, side skirts, a diffuser, and wider wheel arches, among the other notable components. Those arches, in particular, help provide extra space for Novitec to put in a set of massive 22-inch alloy wheels, further enhancing the Levant’s hulking aesthetic appearance. Putting a dramatic finishing touch on the exterior upgrades of the SUV is a matte blue paint finish that further highlights the Levante’s highly appealing persona.

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Startech and Mansory have something to say about the Levante too

Further driving home the point that the Maserati Levante is actually a tuner-friendly SUV, two equally prominent tuners – Startech and Mansory – have prepared their own kits for the Levante. Brabus-owned Startech opted for a more direct approach with its kit, outfitting the Levante with a new front spoiler, a rear bumper attachment, a rear diffuser, and a roof spoiler with a pair of C-blades attached on opposite sides of the tailgate. Startech also offered its own set of 21-inch, five-spoke Monostar M wheels to finish off its exterior program for the Levante.

Moving on to Mansory and it immediately becomes clear that when it comes to eye-catching aero kits, very few do it as consistently as Mansory. Ignore the orange and black paint finish for a second and you’ll see that the German tuner’s aerodynamic body kit is made up of a front lip with side flaps and LED daytime running lights on it. There’s also a modified front splitter, wheelhouse expansions, door attachments, a rear diffuser, and enough carbon fiber upgrades, most notably on the front gille and side mirror caps, to bring Mansory’s “form meets function” tenet to life.

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note: side-by-side photo of Maserati Levante by Startech and Maserati Levante by Mansory

Maserati has some options too

If the aftermarket world proves to be too swashbuckling with its exterior upgrade offerings, Maserati does have some packages available to get more out of the Levante’s exterior. Two good examples are the Sport Metallic and the Sport Dark packages, which offer options that include a sport rear spoiler, lower body moldings, and a choice of wheels and brake callipers. It’s not much relative to the quantity of options that the tuning world provides, but it’s still something that’s worth looking into.

Interior

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Note: Interior of the Maserati Levante pictured here.

“The tuner is offering to upgrade the cabin of the Levante with a number of premium materials that could include leather, Alcantara, and carbon fiber”

Sometimes you have to give a little to take a little and that’s precisely the case with Novitec’s Esteso program for the Maserati Levante. As extensive and impressive as its full, wide-body kit is for the SUV, the interior leaves some things to be desired. To be clear, the tuner is offering to upgrade the cabin of the Levante with a number of premium materials that could include leather, Alcantara, and carbon fiber. But it hasn’t released any photos of what it’s capable of doing to the SUV, nor has it given indication on the specific materials that it has on offer. We do know that Novitec is capable of giving the Levante a well-dressed treatment. We just have to see what we’re dealing with first.

Options come in different forms

In a lot of ways, Startech’s position is the same as that of Novitec. The tuner has a wealth of interior offerings for the Levante , including tailor-made carbon elements for the dashboard, center console and door panels. Startech also has color options available, as well as grains, surfaces finishes, and even wood trim sets that can be added should a customer find them worth getting. And of course, the usual leather and Alcantara options are going to be available. We just don’t get the benefit of photos to see how these materials come together in some form or fashion.

Fortunately, Mansory has no problems showing us what it’s capable of when you give it free reign to work on the Levant’s interior. As you can see below, the particular Levante example that Mansory worked on came with a lot of orange-colored carbon applications, all of which were complemented by fine upholstery, leather-covered seats, Alcantara-wrapped surfaces, and generous amounts of carbon fiber.

One thing we can at least be clear about the interior upgrade offerings of Novitec, Startech, and Mansory is this: none of them are settling for the obligatory pedal sets and floor mats like so many other tuners have resigned to do. At least there are still some choices to be made with regards to these three tuners. It’s just a matter of which tuning approach suits a Levante owner’s needs best.

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note: interior photo of the Maserati Levante by Mansory

Care for a Zegna package from Maserati?

The worst thing a Levante owner can do in this situation is ignore Maserati completely. Doing so would mean dismissing what the Italian automaker has to offer. That’s a mistake, especially when you consider that Maserati has plenty to offer in the way of accessories and packages for the SUV’s interior. The previously mentioned Sport Metallic and Sport Dark packages have goodies like 12-way seats and leather trim, and a sport steering wheel on the table. Then there’s the Luxury Zegna Package, which comes with a good amount of premium materials that come directly from the world famous luxury fashion brand. Yes, when it comes to Maserati, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Drivetrain

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“That translates to a sprint time from 0 to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds, or 0.7 seconds faster than the stock version”

This is where it gets interesting because Novitec’s engine upgrade program covers a number of Maserati variants. That means that a customer doesn’t have to own the range-topping Levante S version with the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine to enjoy Novitec’s offerings. All the available programs are of the software variety so they’re all relatively easy to install. More importantly, they provide the needed power upgrades that help give new life to the SUV. Take the 250-horsepower diesel variant of the Levante for example. With Novitec’s engine tune, that output goes up to 301 horsepower. There’s also the 275-horsepower variant, which sees its output rise to 322 horsepower. That translates to a sprint time from 0 to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds, or 0.7 seconds faster than the stock version. In so may words, that result is nothing to scoff at.

Then there’s the engine upgrade program for the range-topping S variant of the Trident-wearing SUV. From a standard output of 430 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque, Novitec was able to boost those numbers up to 494 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque. Those are gains amounting to an additional 64 horsepower and 59 pound-feet of torque. It may not be much relative what other SUVs gain with their own power upgrades, but it’s still good enough to help the Levante S sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 169 mph. That’s 0.4 seconds quicker and five mph higher than the stock version of the crossover. In other words, nicely done, Novitec.

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“Novitec was able to boost those numbers up to 494 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque”

Obviously, both Startech and Mansory take pride with their own engine upgrade programs for the Maserati Levante. Well, at least that’s the case with Mansory because Startech’s engine tuning kit for the Levante is still currently being developed.

Mansory though is ready to show its stuff to Levante owners out there with a program that promises its own version of potent results. At the heart of its kit is a software upgrade to the crossover’s engine control unit. Combine that with a new sports air filter and a new sports silencer and you have the structure of Mansory’s Levante engine upgrade. With these upgrades in place, the Maserati Levante S variant gets power numbers in the range of 465 horsepower and around 460 pound-feet of torque. It doesn’t quite approach the figures that Novitec attained, but it’s still good enough to help the SUV break 60 mph in five seconds before maxing out with a top speed of 167 mph. Fairly close numbers to Novitec, but the latter takes the cake here, barely.

As for Startech (and other tuners for that matter), we’ll just have to wait and see what it comes up with. It did tell us to expect robust power gains so, at this point, the expectation is for the Brabus-owned tuner to come up with a program that helps the Levante S break 500 horsepower. It’s certainly feasible given what Mansory and Novitec have been able to achieve, but until we hear word from Startech itself, let’s call that a best-case estimate.

Tuner Horsepower Torque 0 To 60 MPH Top Speed
Novitec 494 horsepower 486 pound-feet 4.8 seconds 169 mph
Mansory 465 horsepower 460 pound-feet* 5.0 seconds* 167 mph
Startech 500 horsepower* 490 pound-feet* 4.7 seconds* 170 mph*

Pricing

Pricing details have yet to be announced publicly, and knowing Novitec, interested customers may be better off contacting the tuner directly to get a proper price quote for the Esteso aero kit, the work on the interior, the engine upgrades, and new set of wheels, among other modifications on the table. It is safe to expect though that with the nature of the work Novitec put in, the total cost of the whole kit could reach close to $50,000 to $60,000, donor car not included.

Competition

Maserati Levante By Startech

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At some point in the future, we can expect more tuners to build programs for the Maserati Levante. That’s just the nature of the industry. But for now, we have Startech and Mansory to look to as the only competitors to Novitec’s Esteso program for the Italian SUV. We already know what Startech has to offer, but it is worth noting that in addition to the aero kit, the obligatory pedals, the set of wheels, and the promise of an engine upgrade, the German tuner also has a personalization division that can handle requests of varying exclusivity. Ultimately, this is the full Startech tuning experience for the Levante. Now how about we get that 500-horsepower upgrade sooner than later.

Maserati Levante By Mansory

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A big part of what makes Mansory one of the most popular tuners in the business is the company’s willingness to bring life to programs it builds. The program for the Levante is no different and when put together, it accomplishes what the tuner set out to do when it developed it in the first place. The fact that it gets closer to 500 horsepower isn’t the highlight of the kit. It’s that all of the moving pieces, including the engine upgrade program, coalesce into something that’s worthy of the Mansory name.

Conclusion

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I’m on record as saying that the Maserati Levante is one of the best-looking cars in the business today, regardless of segment. I maintain that belief to this day and I sure as heck appreciate Novitec for tidying up whatever nooks and crannies of the SUV that needed it. The result is a tremendous-looking Levante that’s now backed up by close to 500 horsepower of output to play with. Sign me up for the kit, that is if I had a Maserati Levante myself. The cost of owning one – it’s priced from $72,000 – is another story entirely.

  • Leave it
    • Needs more info regarding interior upgrades
    • Wait for other tuners to come out with their own programs
    • Availability could be an issue

(topspeed.com, https://goo.gl/Hp0tpp)

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