Hot SUV or abominable snowman?

The next-generation BMW X5 M has been spotted testing on the icy roads of Sweden this week, ahead of a likely reveal sometime later this year.

Compared to the standard version, which we've also seen out and about lately, the hi-po X5 M gets chunkier bumpers, more aggressively-flared guards and wider tyres around its big alloy wheels.

It doesn't appear to be wearing production bumpers, but the massive brake discs hiding behind the alloys are a giveaway this X5 has sporting intentions.

We're also led to this assumption based on the fact this vehicle isn't sporting quad-tailpipes at the back – something that all M vehicles have – though the chrome trims around the regular X5 prototype spied in November have been replaced with large circular exhaust outlets here.

Any other changes are concealed by bad lighting or snow, so we'll have to wait until the X5 M heads to warmer climates for a better peek at the differences.

We're expecting the X5 M to share its powertrain with the recently-launched M5, which features a 441kW/750Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, mated to an eight-speed automatic and rear-biased M xDrive all-wheel drive. For reference, the current car manages 423kW/750Nm from an engine of the same size.

The heavier body means the X5 M won't quite match the M5's 3.4-second sprint from 0-100km/h, though a sub-4.0 run should be achievable – the current model claims a 4.2-second sprint – thanks to the extra grunt and the lighter CLAR platform shared with the X35 Series and 7 Series.

It's believed the new X5 and X5 M will be revealed sometime this year, with a global launch projected for late-2018. Expect the first examples to arrive in Australia either very late this year or sometime in early-2019.

Stay tuned to CarAdvice for more updates. Click the photos tab for more images.