BMW has finally taken the wraps off its production-ready XM, a plug-in hybrid SUV with up to 653hp and only the second ever car from the brand to be exclusively offered as an M model. The big, high-performance SUV goes into production this December with first examples expected in Ireland before the summer of 2023. And an even more powerful variant is already in the pipeline.
That face though...
As feared, the exterior style of the production-ready XM is little changed from the concept of the same name, which means it's a serious talking point. The front end uses the split-level lighting layout already seen on the facelifted BMW X7 and forthcoming new 7 Series, but we suspect more people will focus on the ginormous new interpretation of the traditional BMW kidney grilles. Each one takes on an irregular octagonal shape with a double surround. The outer is gold on one of the cars pictured and a more subtle black on another. The inner ring, meanwhile, is a single unbroken light. Within the rings are horizontal grille bars and the 'XM' badge.
That gold accent is continued down the length of the car, picking up the end of the window line, it's echoed in the optional 23-inch wheels pictured here (21s are standard, 22s and 23s are optional), in the badging and at the back to add definition to the diffuser. Again, the black car (mercifully?) does without, suggesting that buyers can opt not to have the full bling.
The rear end is just as arresting as the nose, thanks to long hook-like LED lights that stick out from the bodywork as if they're stuck onto the corners of the car. The expected quad exhaust system is present and correct, but for the XM there's a new stacked design. Meanwhile, the sculpted rear window features a nod to the only ever standalone BMW M model, the M1, with BMW roundels etched into the glass at the top corners.
Hide inside the Lounge
Behind the electrically opening tailgate is a 527-litre boot, expanding to 1,820 litres if you fold the 40:20:40-split rear seats down. And buyers can opt for an electrically retracting tow bar to enable towing of up to 2,700kg.
Not that you'll ever want to fold down the back seats, as that's where the 'M Lounge' is, revealing that this car is as much about those in the rear as it is the person behind the steering wheel. There is a host of new materials and finishes throughout the cabin, including headlining with a tactile three-dimensional structure and the option of stunning Coffee Brown Vintage leather trim. The rear seat is more integrated with the doors and sides of the car than in most cars, which is what BMW calls the M Lounge, while the sound system can have up to 20 different speakers.
Nonetheless, the centre console isn't very different to that of other current large M cars and there's even a regular round three-spoke steering wheel. Ahead of that is the curved dashboard display featuring digital instruments and a large touchscreen, including unique M graphics and, of course, access to a vast array of setup options for the driving sub-systems.
The full M arsenal
The XM is powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain that includes BMW M's newly redeveloped twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine and a 145kW electric motor (197hp). The latter is integrated within the casing of the eight-speed automatic gearbox, and it can deploy 280Nm on its own during fully-electric driving. BMW quotes an electric range of up to 88 kilometres thanks to a 25.7kWh (net) capacity lithium-ion battery pack. It will also do up to 140km/h without waking the engine.
When being used as M cars are designed to be used, the XM has up to 653hp and 800Nm of torque at its driver's disposal, driving through all four wheels and an electronically controlled rear differential with lots of variability. BMW quotes 4.3 seconds for 0-100km/h and there's even a 4WD Sand driving setting.
To help the big XM (it weighs the best part of 2,800kg) drive like an M car, it features a lot of serious technology. This will be the first M car to get Integral Active Steering (rear-wheel steering), for example, while it also features M suspension Professional, grouping electronically controlled damping with active roll stabilisation. The weight distribution is claimed to be more or less 50:50, too, which should be as useful as all that lot.
Label Red for those that want more
And as if all that wasn't quite enough, BMW let slip that it will launch an even higher-performance version of the XM in 2023 called the Label Red. It will use the same 145kW electric motor and plug-in hybrid layout, but the V8's output is increased for system maximums in the region of 748hp and 1,000Nm of torque, making it the most powerful road-going BMW in history.
Prices for the regular XM start at €187,830 in Ireland, which makes it cheaper than a BMW M5 Competition...