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BMW previews newest addition to its M line, the XM

It feels like it was only a week ago that I covered a four-door, SUV-looking vehicle with superlative numbers that would be unimaginable just a few years ago, because it was. This time around, it was BMW showing us the production ready version of the XM, derived from the Concept XM experiment unveiled previously, and it packs all the controversial elements that got the concept spotlight time, albeit watered down just a bit.

The size, however, seems to have stayed the same. The XM will be positioned at the upper end of BMW’s lineup, above other M SUVs such as the X5 M, X6 M and X7 M60i, while sharing its 3,105mm wheelbase with the latter. However, differently than the X7, the XM will only seat five, so it wouldn’t be wrong to expect even higher levels of passenger room.

While in the topic of sharing, this was also the approach taken for the combustion engine used here – the XM uses the same 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 used in the M5, packing 360kW. But as the first ever M plug-in hybrid, there is also a charging port that feeds a 25kWh battery and an electric motor good for 144kW. Through the use of their excellent corporate 8-speed auto, the sprint to 100 km/h should take 4.3s with a 250 km/h limited top speed, which can be raised to 270 with the M Driver’s Package. In order to accommodate for ever increasing emission guidelines in Europe, this powertrain will enable a WLTP range of around 85km in pure electric mode, and it will be able to go as fast as 140km/h with no help from the internal combustion engine.

M products that are not derived from another production model are quite unusual in the German automaker’s playbook, the last one being the incredible M1 from the late 70s, a wedge shaped sports car with a mid-mounted inline 6. With the exception of the double roundel badges at the rear, similarities between the M1 and the XM probably end there. 

The superlatives mentioned earlier could also be exemplified by other facts, namely the 23-inch rims offered standard with 275/35 and 315/30 tyres front and back, or the weight of 2750kg. The last one awards the XM the crown of the heaviest BMW vehicle ever produced, even if it comes with almost 50:50 distribution, and can largely be attributed to the complex powertrain and the luxury and amenities.

As for design, it definitely does push the envelope, even for BMW’s recent standards. They used words such as “extravagant” and “distinctive” to define it, it would be unwise to differ. Some details have been made more contained, but it will not be mistaken for anything else on the road. The wide stance with far reaching taillights is still there, and contentious details like the split headlights and the ever growing kidney grills are now less love or hate. Style is subjective, but I much prefer this production look over the concept, especially when in subdued and single tone colours. 

The interior is, again, less flamboyant, but owners will still get a two tone theme that mixes varied types of leather to create a luxurious look and feel. The ambient lighting now makes its way even to the headliner, where more than 100 LEDs will change according to settings selected in the car and personalisation options. As for infotainment, the class-leading iDrive system comes in its 8th gen alongside a head-up display as standard while offering the widest array of driver assistance systems ever installed in a BMW.

The XM will enter production still in 2022 and prices will kick off from US $159,000 (in America) for the ‘base’ version, but others are expected to follow in 2023. The first will be the XM Label Red, who will take the role of inaugurating a series of limited BMW Label models and will offer over 548kW and nearly 1,000 Nm of torque for some additional $25,000. Special paint, wheels, upholstery, and interior trim pieces are also part of the package which aims to make your special luxury SUV even more exclusive and eye-catching.

This car represents a key inflection moment for BMW’s M division, given the new M2 and the highly expected 3.0 CSL will be the very last M products to rely only on a combustion engine under the hood. So, alongside the divisive design we’ve come to expect from recent BMWs, we can now also expect all other fully-fledged M vehicles to have some sort of electrification as they hit the roads.

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