BMW XM revealed

BMW M reveals only its second bespoke model in its 50 year history: the Lamborghini Urus-rivalling XM

In BMW M’s 50th anniversary year we’ve been spoiled for choice when it comes to new models. The first M3 Touring was confirmed (we drive it in January), a new M4 CSL's been launched and there’s a new M2 just around the corner, plus a very special limited-run model we'll know more about later in the year. But there’s also a controversial fifth: the £144,980 BMW XM.

This big, five-seater, high drama/low subtlety SUV is only the second bespoke model to come from BMW M after the Giugiaro-designed M1 of 1978. It will launch a plug-in hybrid powertrain with performance to rival the a new higher level of SUV rivals from Aston Martin and Lamborghini, and provide a glimpse into BMW M’s future, including what’s in store for the next M5. 

It’s the first M car to feature a plug-in powertrain and consists of a further development of BMW’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8. Peak power is rated at 643bhp, torque at 590lb ft, with a more potent 737bhp Label Red model scheduled for late 2023. On its own the V8 produces a relatively underwhelming 482bhp at 5400rpm and 479lb ft between 1600 - 5000rpm (the M550i’s 523bhp peak, by comparison) but does come with a number of internal upgrades including a stronger crankshaft, refined the hot-vee turbocharger layout and a new internal cooling system.

The hybrid element comes in the form of an electric motor mounted within the eight-speed gearbox producing 194bhp and 206lb ft of torque. It's powered by a 25.7kWh battery pack and can provide up to 50 miles of electric driving range on the WTLP rating. BMW quotes a peak charging speed of 7.4kW, which will replenish the battery pack from empty in around 4.5 hours. 

Power is distributed by an adaptive xDrive all-wheel drive system, although there’s no decoupling options for the front axle as per the M3, M4 and M5 xDrives. The rear axle does includes BMW’s M Sport differential with both power torque vectoring and locking capabilities. As a result there’s claimed a 0-62mph time of 4.3sec, 0-124mph time of 14.3sec and a top speed of 155mph, or 168mph with the optional M Driver’s pack. 

Unlike many of its competitors the XM ignores air suspension in favour of a coil-spring setup. Paired to adaptive dampers and an active anti-roll system, the latter being a first for BMW M, the chassis hardware has been designed specifically for the XM, with forged aluminium upper arms for the double-wishbone front end and five-link setup sitting in a bespoke aluminium subframe at the rear. The aluminium wheel hubs are also new, and support a 275/45 R21 up front and 315/40 R21 at the rear wheel and tyre combination. Optional 22- and 23-inch options also available. 

Another first for BMW M is rear-wheel steering despite being found in lesser BMWs for a generation or so now. BMW M’s hoping the system will help the XM disguise its long wheelbase at low speed, while also assisting with high-speed stability. 

Constructed from a mix of X5 and X7 platform, the XM sits somewhere between the two in length at 5110mm, has the X7’s 3105mm wheelbase and is similar in height to the X5 and is wider than both. Compared to a Lamborghini Urus or Aston Martin DBX, it’s similar in all dimensions but height, towering over the pair. How much does all of this weigh? BMW's quoted a DIN figure of 2710kg, making it significantly heavier than its key rivals, although it's worth remembering it does include a hybrid module and battery pack. A Bentley Bentayga with a V6 PHEV powertrain is around the same sort of weight. 

You'll no doubt have already formed your own opinion about the XM’s look, but the key points to make are relevant to its extreme proportions and extroverted detailing and a few references to BMW designs of the past, albeit rather vaguely. 

Inside, BMW’s taken all of its latest hardware and shaken it into a new look. The general layout is familiar, with its sharp curving digital interface and familiar buttons (the ones that remain, anyway). There’s a new tact in terms of materials used inside with semi-aniline ‘vintage’ leathers accompanying the ‘lounge-like’ experience in the back which, thanks to the vast wheelbase, is positively huge. BMW’s betting that this might be a different type of premium back-seat experience to the IMAX-on-wheels of the new 7-series, but given this is a bespoke high performance M model, it feels like an odd pivot.

Priced at £144,980 the XM carries a big price for a BMW, but it’s a car pitched at the £164,000 Aston Martin DBX, £170,000 Lamborghini Urus and £165,000 Mercedes-AMG G63. 

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