We’ve driven the Levante 350 last year so it was time to see what difference the Levante S makes and if it’s worth the upgrade.

The Levante S is the more powerful version in Maserati’s SUV line-up but what’s different? Let’s find out.

Exterior pleasures

The Gransport trim on the Levante received some styling tweaks coming from the GTS and Trofeo to highlight its sporty character. Most notable tweaks are on the lower front fascia and rear bumper.
Bigger intakes at the front combined with a lower horizontal extractor at the rear make this Levante S surely stand out.
And as I mentioned before, if you’re in it for the looks. Gransport is definitely the way to go. I guarantee you, heads will turn.

Other than that the facelift doesn’t change much on the outside of the car compared to last year. Not a bad thing because the Levante already looked sharp. The updated Gransport trim, however, makes it even sharper. It’ll be a tough act to follow up for the next model.

S Performance

Sitting up front is the same 3.0L V6 we’re used to (but can never get over how good it is). In the S, the power has been increased by 80 hp to 430 hp. This takes the 0-100 km/h time down by 0,8 seconds to 5,2 seconds. Quite the punch for a car this size.

I could go into detail again on what a masterpiece this engine is. But if you’ve read our review on the Levante and Ghibli you know how much we love this V6. In the Levante S, it does consume more than the Ghibli. Not surprising considering the car weighs 300 kg more and being an SUV it isn’t as aerodynamic as the Ghibli. Alright, this is a silly comparison but just so you know when debating which one to buy.

The extra power compared to the standard 350 trim is a nice addition considering that it needs to move just over 2 tonnes of car.
Dynamically it is one of the greater handling SUVs on the market. Turn in is quick without a lot of noticeable body roll. This is probably thanks to a combination of having the lowest center of gravity in its segment and the Skyhook dampers which can electronically stiffen or loosen the dampers. Being an SUV it surprised me how well it handled corners. You won’t get seasick as quick as you would in other SUV’s. The only thing to improve on is the seat’s shoulder support. Oh, we’ve come to the interior part now.

The Shifting Paddles…

As per usual the interior looks exotic. The premium Pieno Fiore leather reminds you that it’s one of the most important options you should get. Because this is what you’re sitting in all day and it should feel like sitting back home on your sofa. Well okay, a sofa with nice side support to keep you in place. The Gransport seats offer plenty of sides support but where they work for the Ghibli 100 %, I felt like they missed some shoulder support. The higher center of gravity means that you do get tossed around on the upper torso. The lower body part is perfect however so a bit more padding up top and the seat is perfect.

But this was one of the things that stuck with me the most. Where the Ghibli we tested was fitted with the interior carbon package. The Levante wasn’t. And that had a major impact on one particular piece. I’ve already said how much I love the big shifting paddles on Maserati’s because of the way they feel and their usability. But I never thought that the standard aluminum paddles would feel so much nicer to shift than the carbon fiber ones. They have a more tactile response to them. The result is that it feels like you’re playing an instrument. A big 3.0 L V6 instrument that is. Damn, how did they managed to make such an addictive engine?

So is the S worth the upgrade?

So whilst the price upgrade is a bit steep, the Levante S does make up for it in its sensation. The bigger Brembo brakes are always a welcome addition. The magic surrounding a Maserati is more than present making this another showstopping car.
If you’re looking for a Maserati SUV with just the right punch, the Levante S is your car. However, if you still linger for more power, the GTS and Trofeo should satisfy you when they roll out later this year.