Maserati’s first sports utility vehicle, the Levante, made its debut early last year, joining the increasingly populated luxury segment with a 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 under its hood from launch. Luxury and performance go hand in hand, in the automotive realm at least, and so the natural progression of a quicker, more potent version has surfaced – which we see here testing in light camouflage.

Tipped to wear the GTS badge, the go-faster model is said to finally gain eight-pot power in the form of the Ferrari-built biturbo V8 which produces 530 hp in the Quattroporte. From what we can see on its exterior, the Levante will sport larger air intakes on its front bumper to better aid breathing and cooling for the more potent powerplant.

Not immediately obvious (but certainly expected) are chassis upgrades such as lowered and stiffened suspension, a larger wheel-and-tyre combo and enlarged brakes to cope with the SUV’s newfound performance. Around the back, larger exhaust outlets also signify this more potent version from its existing stablemates.

In this set of spy images where the upcoming Levante GTS was spotted testing, it appears that the Italian marque has a decidedly Bavarian benchmark for its V8 SUV development work – a BMW X5 M appears to be accompanying the Levante mule on its road trials in summery Europe. Given the test mule’s rather minimal camouflage, the upcoming V8 version is expected to debut in the first half of next year.

GALLERY: Maserati Levante in Malaysia