NewsArts & Culture / September 20, 2019

Stylish Maserati, Jaguar Crossovers Slam Power To Pavement

Stylish Maserati, Jaguar Crossovers Slam Power To PavementAuto correspondent Casey Williams puts two European luxury crossovers through their paces for this week's review.auto, Maserati, Jaguar, luxury crossover2019-09-20T00:00:00-04:00

The Maserati Levante Trofeo's 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 produces 590 horsepower. The luxury crossovers can go from 0-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds on the way to a 189 mph top speed. (Provided by Maserati)
 

2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo Is A Very Grand Touring Machine

I doubt the cornfields in Jefferson County, Indiana have ever heard the high wail of a Ferrari V8.  My daughter and I are clipping corners and leveling hills as we blitz to Clifty Falls State Park in the Maserati Levante Trofeo. 

I barely slow down as we pass a Methodist Church, in which worshippers surely think I’m bringing The Second Coming when I press the “Corsa” button and exhaust cracks in thunderous rapture.  The big crossover surges forward.  I click down on the paddle shifter for a tight left-hander, plunge the brakes, flex steering, and stomp again.  Traveling in this very grand touring machine becomes intoxicating.

Our journey began by pounding coffee and pound cake at our favorite coffee shop back in Indianapolis while examining the Levante through large widows.  It looks like a Maserati Ghibli and Jeep Grand Cherokee had relations, which means it’s pretty big, though graced with flowing curves, angry grille, and 22-inch steamrollers at the corners.  Trofeo editions are distinguished by carbon fiber ground affects.  It’s a look that demands a drive.

Underway, heated and ventilated leather sport seats gripped our sides and coddled our bottoms.  My daughter preferred the panoramic sunroof open and power rear sunshades raised.  We both enjoyed the 1280w 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system.  Sweet aural ecstasy!  Wood and carbon fiber trim are available, but ours had glossy metal weave underlining an elegant Maserati clock and leather and metal weave on the steering wheel.

Power window and turn signal switches hail from Chrysler, as does the intuitive infotainment touchscreen, with simple icons, that’s the model for all luxury car infotainment systems.  Safety was enhanced by adaptive cruise with lane centering, forward collision alert with auto brake, and active blind spot assist to gently move away from danger.  Hill descent control and hill hold are employed on-trail.

And, nobody cares when exercising the Maranello-built jewel nestled between the fenders.  The 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 conjures 590 horsepower, kicking the Levante from 0-60 mph in a scant 3.8 seconds on the way to a 189 mph top speed.  All-wheel-drive keeps power down and torching fuel at 14/18-MPG city/highway.  Raise fuel economy to 15/21-MPG by choosing the 345 horsepower twin-turbo V6, but add 2 seconds to 60 mph and erase 30 mph in top speed.  No thanks!

When not grooving to the exhaust note, there’s time to dial the chassis.  Electronic suspension damping keeps the big crossover planted over dropping crests and tight apexes, though you feel the vehicle’s mass.  It’s no sports car.  The air suspension lowers it down at speed and raises up for off-roading.  Driving modes include Normal, Sport (opens the exhaust, enlivens throttle, tightens suspension/steering), Off-road, and Corsa with launch control for quick get-aways.

We keep it to a low rumble while in the park for a few days, but upon leaving a lady looked at us and said, “You don’t see many of those around here!”  I think, “I suppose not, and you won’t see this one long either, because we’re outta here!”  It didn’t take long to get home.  After making quick work of two lanes, we hammer back to Indy on the Interstate, only slowing down for construction zones.

A vehicle I didn’t expect to like became a delightful traveling companion.  Every moment felt special, but there’s a price.  The Levante starts at $76,980, coming to…oh holy pitchforks…$170,380.  Competitors include the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, Mercedes-AMG GLE 63, Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and Lamborghini Urus.


The Jaguar F-Pace SVR comes loaded with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine that delivers 550 horsepower. (Provided by Jaguar)

Wicked Quick 2019 F-Pace Redefines Jaguar

What is a Jaguar?  If we discussed that 20 years ago, low flowing bodies, intoxicating leather, glistening chrome, and acres of veneers would have come to mind.  Jaguar was a 21st Century automaker stuck in the 1960s.  Then, the British cat turned on its wheels and focused on a design ethos that echoed the past, but was decidedly set on the future.  Piano black panels and carbon fiber became more common.  So have crossovers like the 2019 F-Pace that have redefined what is a Jaguar.

It’s a pretty deft trick to imbue a mid-size crossover with the elegance and proportions for which Jaguar is known.  As with past Jags, the F-Pace’s curvy forms hunker over the wheels as if ready to pounce.  It’s especially exaggerated with 22-inch alloys, LED headlights, and SVR body kit with lower splitter, chiseled ground affects, and quad exhaust outlets.  Thin front and rear lighting adds to the concept car aura.  Open the power rear hatch and flip the seats to move gear inside.

Although pompous English tannery brands were left roadside, the F-Pace still causes plenty of consternation among the mooing class.  Leather-upholstered sport seats are heated and cooled up front, heated in the rear.  A leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and dash trim display more bovine sweetness.  Everything feels and smells expensive.  Ambient lighting on the doors, panoramic sunroof, and Meridian audio system enhance the mood.

Moving beyond natural materials, there are enough electronics to shiver Silicon Valley.  A flatscreen dashboard accompanies a head-up display and large touchscreen low in the dash for audio, phone, and navigation.  It is not the easiest to use, but is an improvement over recent Jaguar systems.  Connect via USBs, Bluetooth, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.  An electrically heated windshield and rain sensing wipers dispatch poor weather.  Safety was bolstered with blind spot warning, adaptive cruise with steering assist, forward emergency braking, and lane keep assist systems.

Moving to asphalt, swift acceleration has always been a Jaguar hallmark; the F-Pace SVR comes loaded with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine that delivers 550 horsepower and 502 lb.-ft. of torque – plenty to claw in the fat rubber through an 8-speed automatic transmission.  Paddles let drivers shift for themselves if they choose.  Fuel economy of 16/21-MPG city/highway is not impressive, so just enjoy that massively powerful engine.

A fully developed chassis system keeps wheels planted and drivers engaged.  Selectable driving modes configure the suspension, steering, and throttle for everything from normal cruising (relaxed) to track days (tense).  As with Land Rovers, there’s a version of the terrain response system that configures the vehicle for varying on- and off-road endeavors.  In no condition did the vehicle feel harsh – no mean feat when driving a performance-tuned crossover with gi-normous wheels.  It rumbled over rough pavement and soaked up smooth highways.

When I read stories about Jaguar developing an SUV, my thought was, “Isn’t that the point of Land Rover?”  It is, but there apparently was plenty of room in the Jaguar portfolio for a few crossovers (there are also the smaller E-Pace and iPace EV crossovers).  As the top cat in Jaguar’s wagon range, the F-Pace SVR comes with an appropriate price.  Base models start at $45,200, but ours came to $89,900.  Competitors include the BMW X5 M, Mercedes-AMG GLE 63, and Range Rover Sport Dynamic.

Storm Forward!

Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.


 

2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo

  • Five-passenger, AWD Crossover
  • Powertrain: 3.8-liter TT V8, 8-spd auto
  • Output:  590hp/538 lb.-ft. torque
  • Suspension f/r: elect Ind/Ind
  • Wheels f/r: 22”/22” alloy
  • Brakes f/r: disc/disc
  • Must-have features: Style, Performance
  • 0-60 mph: 3.8s
  • Top speed:  189 mph
  • Fuel economy: 14/18 mpg city/hwy
  • Assembly: Turin, Italy
  • Base/As-tested price: $76,980/170,380 

 

2019 Jaguar F-Pace SVR

  • Five-passenger, AWD Crossover
  • Powertrain: 5.0-liter SC V8, 8-spd auto
  • Output:  550hp/502 lb.-ft. torque
  • Suspension f/r: elect Ind/Ind
  • Wheels f/r: 22”/22” alloy
  • Brakes f/r: disc/disc
  • Must-have features: Leather, Performance
  • Fuel economy: 16/21 mpg city/hwy
  • Assembly: Solihull, U.K.
  • Base/As-tested price: $45,200/89,900

 

 

 

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