A party to remember for cars guaranteed to wow…
Last week, the latest from luxury car manufacturer Maserati; the Levante Trofeo and Levante GST was unveiled during a lavish party in Auckland. Hosting some of the brands most stylish friends at an intimate gathering, the event saw the likes of Gary Langsford and Newstalk presenter Mike Hosking gather to hear all things tech and innovation.
Held at the Winger’s Maserati showroom in Epsom with directors Wayne Leach and Amanda Leach, the event was a celebration of the brand's investment and expertise. Which, if these two cars are anything to go by, is seriously exciting. Guests were treated to nibbles from the iconic Toto’s team to warm up the palette, followed by a more substantial Grana Padano cheese wheel pasta dish. Peroni was also on-site, serving ice-cold beers alongside some of New Zealand’s favourite drops. This was all enjoyed while listening to the ever-energetic Zeisha on the decks, while guests mingled and got a first look at the main event, the cars - introduced by Glen Sealy – Chief Operating Officer - Maserati Australia and New Zealand.
These are car’s you want to own; range-topping tuned-up SUV’s that exist in a league of their own. Both sporting Ferrari V8 powered drivetrains, these are stylish cars with power, echoing the brand's ethos of never sacrificing luxury for performance. They’re pretty, too, sporting compelling interior fit-outs with all the bells and whistles you could ever realistically need, and much more.
See more from the event below...
But if simply seeing the cars isn’t excitement enough, a few lucky guests were whisked away to Hampton Downs for the Maserati Trofeo Track Experience. These five lucky drivers were among the first in New Zealand to experience the 550hp and 590hp twin-turbo V8 engines on the track, under the expert supervision of the Maserati team. In addition to experiencing the latest models on one of the country’s best racetracks, they also had the opportunity to test the Levante’s capabilities during an off-road exercise.
Remix team member Stephen Green was one of them.
Demo day kicked off with a quick macchiato and run down on Maserati's new Ferrari powered 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 beast. There's an SUV in Pit Lane? That aggressive front end featuring Maserati's signature grill coupled with ultra-low suspension settings don't look at all out of place trackside and ready to race. Helmets on and safety briefing complete, its time for business.
After a warm-up lap to get the track familiar, I'm off! With the guidance of a real race car driver giving precise corner entry and exit points and braking sections, there's plenty of opportunity for full-throttle sprints even if it was only for a few seconds at a time. The top-spec Trofeo's 582 horses coupled with a highly tuned chassis and that 8-speed ZF gearbox allows for some brutally fast and extremely willing laps. Inside the fully appointed leather and carbon fibre cockpit, you feel encased in luxury and tranquillity. It's even got double glazed windows. Fortunately, when boosting down the straights, the glazing still allows you to hear the beautiful roar of this Italian V8.
The final lap was intense, a sprinkling of rain, and that infamous off-camber 90˚ corner above the back straight is on my mind. Very shortly after bolting to 222kph, into full breaks and followed by steady acceleration again, that formidable right-hander was again in my rearview. That was far more manageable than it should have been. My co-pilot declares, "your driving was excellent...thanks to the Levante. Not exactly a compliment, but I know what he was saying was right. This wagon has incredible competence and precision.
After some adrenaline-fueled track laps, it was time to switch this turbo sports five-seater into the off-road mode. In a paddock behind the track was another 'track' that looked placed to give any true 4x4 a hard time. I was straight into 45˚ gravel hill climbs through to segments that were blind on approach. Plenty of rugged and deeply potholed terrain where only two opposing wheels were grounded are navigated with ease and style thanks to down-facing front-mounted cameras, massive ground clearance, and some cleave work from Levante's differential and gearbox. A clear illustration of this performance SUV's dependable 'UV' side The 'S' was never really in doubt with that Ferrari V8. More track laps, please.