Winter is waning in the northern latitudes, but automakers are still engaged in cold-weather testing. BMW is among them, and while the images of this X5 M look unremarkable, they do provide a glimpse into the SUV's near-future development.

Specifically, a mid-cycle refresh is already in the works and these photos are rather interesting on that front. For starters, don't bother looking for camouflaged areas or deceiving panels hiding changes. As far as we can tell, the only things different on the outside of this Bimmer are its headlights. The lenses are the same shape compared to the current model, but they have an unrefined prototype look about them and the illumination pattern appears different.

Gallery: BMW X5 M Facelift Spy Photos

It's likely an early testbed for what could be thinner lamps, which would also explain why the front fascia is a different colour from the body. This test vehicle probably wore an updated front fascia and headlight design but had both swapped out for some public evaluation of the tech. Ditto for the rear fascia which is also black because let's face it – the best camouflage for technology test vehicles is to simply run existing body panels. However, this tells us that updates front and rear will come to the X5, though admittedly at this point we don't know how significant those exterior updates will be.

That said, we do know some significant changes are coming for the interior. As the SUV passed the camera our spy photographer caught a glimpse of a large screen that the driver was trying to cover up. It appears similar to the one used in the BMW iX, stretching wide and curved to focus more attention towards the driver. A similar design will see life in other BMW models so spying it here on the X5 isn't a surprise.

We presently don't have a timeframe for when the facelifted X5 will arrive. The current-generation X5 debuted in 2018 as a 2019 model, with the hotter X5 M arriving approximately a year later for 2020. This is obviously an earlier-stage test vehicle, so don't expect to see anything until 2022 at the earliest.