With the next-generation Porsche Macan set to go fully electric in 2022, buyers who want or require a conventional internal combustion engine will be left in the lurch. Happily for those people, however, Zuffenhausen will continue to offer an updated petrol Macan as an option, and these images from our spy photographers show the first development prototype undergoing testing in snowy climes.

As you’d expect this early in development, the mule looks almost identical to the outgoing Macan on the outside, sharing the same mini-Cayenne body. It’s based on the entry-level 2.0 litre model, judging by the closed-off front corner vents (functional on the Macan S and above) and twin trapezoidal tailpipes.

Interestingly, the front bumper is unlike anything we’ve seen on both the original and facelifted Macan. With its large intakes underlined by a slim full-width inlet, it looks the most like the facelifted Turbo, but there are also corner fins that go around the bumper-mounted indicators, as well as a second inlet at the bottom.

The side “blades” that run along the flanks have also been covered up, but it’s at the back where it starts to become evident that this is no mere nip and tuck. The diffuser section of the bumper has been extended significantly rearwards, possibly hinting at an expected increase in size.

While it will share its name with the “proper” new Macan, which will be based on the Taycan sedan’s Premium Platform Electric (PPE), this petrol model will be a fundamentally different car altogether. Exactly what form it will take remains to be seen, with some reports suggesting that it will be a thoroughly updated version of the now six-year-old current Macan.

Our spies, on the other hand, say that they expect Porsche to still spend the money to develop an all-new car, based on the second-generation Audi Q5 (the existing Macan is built on the bones of the first-gen Q5). Whichever way it goes, it should largely use the same engines as before, as the greater Volkswagen Group moves away from the development of fossil-fuelled mills.