Ferrari-powered SUV headed for showrooms

What happens when you cross a twin-turbo Ferrari engine with a high-riding Italian crossover? Simple: you get the Maserati Levante Trofeo, a family-hauler with a top speed in excess of 300km/h.

There's plenty going on here, but we're going to start with the engine, because it's making some serious numbers – 440kW and 730Nm, to be precise, for a 0-100km/h time of just 3.9 seconds and a 300+km/h top speed. Those playing along at home may have already worked this out, but those figures are within a whisker of those offered by the MC12 supercar of a decade ago. Hold on, kids.

The engine, produced by Ferrari in Maranello, has the highest specific output of any Maserati engine ever produced.

When it comes time to slow down, Maserati is claiming a 34.5-metre stopping distance from 100km/h. There's no guarantee your family will ever get into a car with you again after testing that, by the way.

Power is put to the road through the same Q4 all-wheel drive system offered in the rest of the range, while an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission shifts gears. Maserati says its engineers (or the Ferrari team responsible) went through hell to make the V8 fit with its Q4 system, to the point where the engine has a new crankcase design, assembly, a new oil pump and a unique wiring layout.

To make sure all that power doesn't turn the Levante into a wayward handler, the car rides on a reworked double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, along with wider tyres wrapped around 22-inch forged alloy wheels. Along with the usual range of drive modes (Normal, ICE, Sport and Off Road) there's a Corsa (track) mode.

Swapping into the raciest setting gives you a sharper throttle, opens the exhaust valves, speeds up the gear shifts and stiffens the SkyHook adaptive dampers. Throw revised all-wheel drive and ESP calibrations, and you've got the raciest SUV this side of an Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV.

As if the V8 thunder and terrified passengers weren't enough of a hint, there are plenty of unique styling touches on the car's exterior to set the Trofeo apart from more mundane Maserati family-haulers. The front bumper has massive air intakes set down low, and the rear diffuser wears carbon-fibre highlights.

Those 22-inch wheels are a good giveaway, too. There are special Trofeo badges scattered around the exterior, to match the ones embedded in the headrests of the quilted, contrast-stitched leather seats inside.

Matte-carbon trim adorns the dashboard and paddle shifters, while a 1280W 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo is standard. If you're not listening to that V8 run towards redline, you're doing it wrong though.

In North America, the Trofeo will be offered in a Launch Edition variant with matte Grigio Lava paint and red brake calipers (pictured). The full-scale production car will be offered in eight colours.

Australia

"The production of the Levante Trofeo starts this summer at the refurbished Maserati plant in Mirafiori (Turin), Italy," said Edward Rowe, communications boss for Ateco Automotive, Maserati's local importer.

"The fastest Levante in Maserati history is initially intended for overseas export markets, starting with the U.S. and Canada, and has yet to be confirmed for the Australian and New Zealand markets."

Fingers crossed we see it here soon. Click the photos tab for more images