I pitted a Maserati Levante GTS against a Porsche Cayenne GTS in a battle of high-performance luxury SUVs
- I pitted a 2020 Maserati Levante GTS against a 2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS is a battle of high-performance, luxury SUVs that are ... both GTS's!
- The Porsche I tested was quite a bit more expensive than the Maserati, but it was crammed with options — the base Cayenne is actually cheaper than the base Levante.
- Both SUVs have potent V8 engines, but the Levante's puts out a bunch more horsepower. Yet the 0-100 kph times are separated by only half a second.
- As magnificent as the Maserati Levante GTS is, the Porsche Cayenne GTS has an edge.
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Italian or German?
No, I'm not asking about preferences in opera. I want to know if you like your automotive arias with a plate of pasta or a side of spaetzle. You know what I'm talking about: the classic Maserati vs. Porsche conundrum.
OK, so classic is a stretch here. Porsche more naturally battles with Ferrari, but Maranello hasn't yet produced the SUV it has promised. As Ferrari's sister company, however, Maserati is a good stand-in, and the Levante is a solid preview of what you should expect from the FUV (that's Ferrari Utility Vehicle).
So I've matched up Stuttgart's masterpiece, the 2021 Cayenne GTS, with one of the top dogs in Bologna's lineup, the Levante GTS.
So, Italian GTS against German GTS. Which GTS rules the continent?
Cargo capacity for the Maserati Levante GTS will be more than enough to handle my week-in-the-'burbs shopping needs.
As I wrote in my original review, the Maserati Levante GTS is a thing of beauty — but once the lookin' is done, the driving can begin. And this is where the SUV offers a compelling reason to write the big check.
The V8 roars to life and then keeps right on roaring. The soundtrack is spectacular. But it isn't just noise. The 0-100 kph run is, according to Maserati, a four-second phenomenon, but I thought it came in a hair under that. And the GTS is exceptionally capable in the corners. The best part of that is diving into a curve and then powering out, feeling the energy flow through the car, into the wheels, the tires, and then down into the pavement as the Levante grabs hold.
Yes, other high-performance SUVs can do this. But the Levante GTS does it with an exhaust note that's downright mythological while cosseting you in acres of Italian style. It never gets old.
The EPA hasn't yet rated the Cayenne GTS for fuel economy, but I found the punchy V8 to be moderately thirsty; in two days worth of driving, I managed to incinerate almost a half a tank of premium petrol.
In my review I wrote:
Essentially, what we have with the GTS is the Cayenne that critics feared the SUV wouldn't be: a very fast (0-100 in about 4.5 seconds) four-door Porsche with a big ol' cargo hold. It corners like it's on rails (rear-axle steering lends an assist) and it can drop the hammer in a straight line. On certain American highways, favored by freight carriers, you can pass semis all day long and feel the bottomless oomph that the GTS's magnificent engine produces, never laggy, always ready to punch like a prizefighter.
So why does the Porsche emerge the victor in the GTS throwdown? After all, the Levante is faster to 100 kph by a full half-second, and brings almost 100 more horsepower to the battle. On top of all that, the Levante is better-looking, less expensive by about one Toyota Corolla, and far more stylish and premium on the inside.
Make no mistake, the Levante GTS is impressive. It's just that that Porsche Cayenne GTS is so, so friggin' good. It's simply hard to beat a Porsche SUV in a driving contest. In short, I love the Maserati, but I admire the Porsche.
Does that mean you should take a pass on the Mas? Nope. Obviously, options matter and my Porsche Cayenne GTS tester was crammed with them. By some measures, the Porsche is overpriced as configured (of course, the GTS has a cheaper starting price). You might not really want to dive hard into corners in an SUV, preferring instead to indulge the fury of that big Maserati motor while enjoying its superior interior.
In a weird way, the debate reduced to the classic Porsche vs. Ferrari showdown, with the Maserati acting as Maranello's proxy. The Levante's noise is more joyful, while the Cayenne is bliss in the hands when the power hits the placement. The Mas is also more intimidating, while the Porsche at times almost drives itself.
I've raved about both rides. But in the end, the Porsche Cayenne GTS has the edge.
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