Ever since BMW started pumping out X5 Ms, other premium brands decided to follow suit and develop their own high-performance SUV. Porsche did it, then Mercedes-Benz (now Mercedes-AMG) did it and now there’s an Audi RS Q8, a Lamborghini Urus and even an Aston Martin DBX. Hell, Ferrari is going to be developing its own performance SUV soon. But there’s a forgotten one that might be the best of all of them — the Maserati Levante Trofeo.

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In this new episode of The Smoking Tire, Matt Farah and Zack Klapman drive the new Levante Trofeo and come away surprisingly impressed. In fact, Farah thinks it’s the best driving SUV on the road.

The Trofeo is the fastest version of the Levante and it packs a 3.8 liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 590 hp and 542 lb-ft of torque. But the engine’s biggest stat-line is its assembly location. The Maserati Levante Trofeo engine is co-developed and built by Ferrari in Maranello and you can tell. It sounds like a Ferrari (see: excellent), pulls like a Ferrari and makes the Trofeo wonderfully charismatic. According to both hosts, it feels different than its German rivals and it’s for the better.

While the Germans have brutish torque, the Trofeo really sings. It revs more cleanly and is more willing to rev, while also sounding better and more alive.

BMW X5 M Competition exterior design 35 830x553

More importantly than its engine is its handling. Maserati’s “Skyhook” suspension uses a combination of air-suspension, mag-ride and double-wishbone front suspension to make the big Levante Trofeo seemingly drive better than all of the Germans.

Personally, I think I can understand what they’re talking about. I have driven neither the Levante Trofeo nor the BMW X5 M. So I’m not going to personally claim that one is better than the other. However, I have driven the step down of each car, the M50i and the Levante GTS. While I’m a big fan of this generation X5, the Levante GTS was more fun to drive. It’s worse in a lot of ways, including built quality (Farah shows how easy it was for the ash-tray lid to break in the Maser), but, in terms of actual driving dynamics, the Levante is shockingly good to drive.

When this global pandemic is over and the world returns to normal, we’re going to have to test both the BMW X5 M and Maserati Levante Trofeo back-to-back to sort this out. We can’t wait.