BMW's electrified XM SUV ready to suck buyers in with huge nostrils
BMW has launched its first-ever electrified M high-performance model. The high-powered XM (a high-performance SUV, in this case, not a satellite radio service) strikes a balance with its mix of electric cleanliness and hybrid range and power. Its plug-in M Hybrid system blends 644-hp of modern Bavarian V8-backed might with up to 55 miles of zero-emissions driving. Commute with nary a tailpipe puff during the week, then redline to the limits on your Sunday drives through the country or down the autobahn.
We get that BMW is proud of its distinctive double-kidney grille and all, but enough is enough. The XM's particular iteration is actually toned down from other contemporary BMWs, but for some reason it's paired with some of the thinnest headlamps ever devised, accentuated by a thick dual-tone metal surround and underpinned by a whole separate grille (as if the kidneys needed help sucking air). As other automakers evolve their techniques for deleting grilles in a more understated EV world, BMW continues doubling down on massive designs ... even for EVs.
We'd like to say things get better when looking beyond the tip of the nose, but they really don't. The styling looks overly crinkled from the front fins and inlets, up over the oddly square fenders, and around into stacked hexagonal exhaust tips. Not our cup of tea, but it's a big, hulking flagship SUV with a BMW badge and a performance-tuned powertrain, so we're sure it'll attract its share of buyers and wannabe buyers.
Regardless of its styling woes, the XM's new M Hybrid powertrain is poised to scintillate and enthrall, combining an M-tuned 483-hp (360-kW) 4.4-liter V8 TwinPower turbo with a 194-hp (145-kW) electric drive integrated into the eight-speed M Steptronic transmission. This setup lets the driver skip straight to the point, by tapping into the e-motor's immediate torque and enjoying a 4.3-second 0-62 mph (100 km/h) sprint. The motor puts out 206 lb-ft (280 Nm), and a pre-gearing stage increases that effective output to 332 lb-ft (450 Nm). Cut the V8 into the mix and you're looking at a 590 lb-ft (800-Nm) max.
Available "M" performance aside, the new XM is still a big, old SUV, and it's still going to find a lot of use whisking kids to Little League practice, lapping the mall parking lot, and tackling the low-speed corners of residential neighborhoods. Those type of defined, limited-mileage trips will benefit immediately from switching the drive mode selector to "Electric," letting the electric motor take over entirely for distances between 51 and 55 miles (82 and 89 km) of estimated range on the WLTP or 30 miles (48 km) of estimated EPA range. Electric mode comes with a highway-ready speed cap of 87 mph (140 km/h). The two other mode options are Hybrid, for full access to gas-electric horsepower and torque, and eControl for maintaining battery level.
The electric and gas power plants also team up to give BMW's SUV electronic all-wheel drive, and of course BMW has to throw the "M" in there once again in naming it the M xDrive (on the XM with M Hybrid). The 4WD system is on by default, and uses rear-biased AWD mapping and a left/right torque-varying electronic rear differential to earn the sporty "M" designation. Modes like 4WD Sport and 4WD Sand let drivers dial it in for the conditions at hand.
The XM rides on an adaptive M Suspension Professional (yes, another "M") with electronically controlled dampers and active roll stabilization operated via 48-V motors. Wheel movement comes by way of double wishbones in front and a five-link axle at the rear. The standard Integral Active Steering turns both the front and rear wheels for a better mix of poise, agility and high-speed stability.
BMW loads the XM with the M brand's largest slate of standard and available driver assistance, starting with inclusions like Driving Assistant with front collision warning, lane departure warning with steering assistance, evasion assistant and more. Buyers can upgrade to the optional Driving Assistant Professional with active cruise control, stop and go, and lane control assistant.
Behind the wheel, the driver faces a seamless curved display pulling together the 12.3-in instrument screen and 14.9-in infotainment touchscreen. A little farther ahead, the BMW head-up display adds another informational layer. BMW's iDrive software can be controlled via a dedicated controller, steering wheel inputs, swipe, gesture or natural voice.
Audio shines through on a standard Harman Kardon surround sound system or available 1,500-watt Bowers & Wilkins upgrade. The headliner dazzles with a 3D prism design and the sparkle of 100 integrated LEDs.
BMW plans to begin XM production at its Spartanburg, South Carolina plant this December before rolling the first models out around the world next spring (Northern Hemisphere). The US, Middle East and China will serve as key target markets. The new SUV will start at $159,000 in the US before $995 destination and handling fee. After the initial launch, BMW will add the $180K 735-hp (550-kW) Red Label model as the first of several planned "Label" models.
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The performance seems very ordinary for a 2022/2023 vehicle and I expect the price will be something most rational humans will balk at.
It feels as if the people driving BMW at the moment are not well.