Don't look away – full skinny on the 653hp, £145k hybrid M flagship right here
By Matt Bird / Tuesday, 27 September 2022 / Loading comments
It’s hard to recall an M car that’s received more pre-launch attention than the XM. From BMW’s perspective this is a hugely significant new product, the first bespoke M car since the M1 and tip of the spear for a newly electrified era as the subdivision turns 50. And for the rest of us, the XM looks like BMW – indeed the wider car industry, really – at its least desirable. It’s a plug-in hybrid, 650hp V8 SUV so heavy there’s not a kerbweight quoted in the 18-page press release, with 50 miles of electric range and a £145k asking price. And this isn’t even the fast one. And then there’s the way it looks. So this ought to be fun…
The XM is still an M car, however, one BMW is keen to associate with the M Hybrid V8 racer (!), so it would be remiss not to discuss some key details. Key outputs are 653hp and 590lb ft, meaning this already surpasses the M5 CS as the most powerful M car ever. The hybrid split is 489hp in favour of the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 (produced at a modest 5,400rpm), with up to 197hp supplied by the electric motor. The torque split is 479lb ft from the engine and 184lb ft by electric (we don’t know why it doesn’t add up either). The results don’t need much explaining, however: with a standard eight-speed auto and launch control, BMW says the XM can reach 62mph in 4.3 seconds and 124mph in 14.3, with top speed up to 168mph. Which is obviously pretty quick, but does lag behind something like the 3.6 seconds and 12.9 of the M3 Touring. Which you knew had to come up at some point. And explains the missing kerbweight.
But the XM can counter from a fuel economy and emissions perspective, at least as far as the WLTP test goes. Official numbers are 33-36g/km, 176.6-188.3mpg and 51-55 miles of pure electric range, at up to 87mph. Bear in mind that a 680hp Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid returns up to 88mpg and from 72g/km of CO2 and the BMW’s numbers look even more impressive. Handy for the powerfully built company directors among us.
Some serious chassis hardware has been thrown at the XM, too, as befits its status, even if the car sounds a little way off the RS Q8s, Cayenne Turbo GTs and Urus Performantes of this world. It has its own rear axle with the mandatory M Sport diff, which works in conjunction with the fully variable M xDrive and DSC for the most precise inputs. Suspension is by double wishbones at the front, with a five-link configuration at the rear; additional points to note include M suspension Professional dampers ‘almost completely isolated from lateral forces’ thanks to extra control arms, a sealed underbody to help lower drag (complete with aero optimised camber arms) and an aluminium rear subframe.
This being the M flagship, that’s just the start of an extensive chassis kit list. Because there’s four-wheel steer and then BMW four-wheel steer. The XM debuts Integral Active Steering, which combines speed sensitive power assistance, variable ratio and a steering rear axle. ‘In challenging driving situations, stabilising steering inputs at the rear wheels can help to keep the BMW XM safely on track’, reckons its maker. Which promises to be an experience, if nothing else. Keeping the XM on the straight (if not narrow – it’s the widest BMW in the range) will be active anti-roll, near-actuator wheel slip limitation and XM-specific M Sport brakes. Interestingly the big beast retains coil springs rather than going for an air setup; the claim of opting for them on weight ground sounds a tad disingenuous, but the promise of improvements for traction and comfort are encouraging. All of this technology will operate under three drive modes – Hybrid, Comfort and Electric – with plenty more configurability beyond that, as is M car tradition. Drivers will be able to adjust the feel of the brake pedal, the speed of the gearshifts and the stiffness of the dampers.
Which is probably all irrelevant, really, given this is the BMW XM and people will only want to talk about how it looks. The first point of note is that this thing is genuinely enormous: 5,110mm long, 2,005mm wide, 1,755mmm tall. The wheels are up to 23-inch in diameter (!), with 21s as standard and a 315-section rear tyre. The press release says the XM ‘takes its cues from BMW’s modern design language’, which isn’t exactly an auspicious start given recent efforts. Clearly, the kidney grilles are some way beyond prominent, there’s something resembling a Hofmeister kink back there and there are black M3-style mirrors, because aero and M car. But, incredibly, the M1 hasn’t been left out when styling its very indirect successor. ‘Similar to the black strip running along the body of the BMW M1, the BMW XM has an accent band emerging from the front wheel arches, bearing “XM” lettering.’ Which was surely the first thing we all looked at, too.
Then there’s the XM’s interior overhaul. Here more than anywhere else is where the new, more luxurious direction of M takes shape. And where Alpina might end up come 2026, perhaps. So if your favourite M car has manually adjustable seats, or an orange roll cage or four big buckets like an M5 CS, look away now; but if you want to see just how plush a £150k BMW can now be, roll right up.
There’s everything that might be expected of a modern M car up front, with the Curved Display, carbon shift paddles and illuminated door sills, plus the most spectacular rear quarters you’ve ever seen. Described as an ‘exclusive M Lounge’, the rear bench boasts quilted M-inscribed Alcantara cushions, heating all the way across, fibre-optic ambient lighting, up to 20 speakers for a B&W sound system, the latest in rear window tinting to protect ‘the interior against prying eyes’ and a standard Travel & Comfort System for entertainment on long trips. Or just to put headphones on if the owner has gone for the optional Coffee Brown Vintage leather and wishes to tell you about the new processing technique which ‘deliberately emphasises the material’s natural characteristics rather than concealing them’. Seriously. If you needed proof of M’s changing markets and priorities, the rear lounge is certainly it. The XM even has split-folding rear seats as standard, increasing boot capacity from 527 litres to 1,820.
Got your head around all that? Good, because this is just the beginning of the XM story. This car is on sale now, priced at £144,980 and with production due to begin in December. Following on in autumn 2023 will be the XM Label Red, which is not the eau de parfum but in fact the XM flagship, complete with 748hp and 737lb ft. Heaven help us all.
- BMW M unveils standalone 750hp XM
- 2023 BMW XM prototype | PH Review
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