Official: this is the all-new £145k, 2.7-tonne BMW XM SUV
BMW M’s brand new Big Car gets 644bhp hybrid V8 for the first time, and there's a 738bhp version incoming
This is the new BMW XM, and it is a car of Firsts, and Mosts. The first M car to deploy a hybrid powertrain. And thus, the first M car able to be motivated – albeit for short distances – purely on electricity. The most powerful series-production M car ever devised. In fact, the most powerful BMW ever built.
It’s also the first BMW M car to look the most… well, you be the judge. Perhaps it’s better to focus on the technology at play here, lest we get caught up in what BMW calls a “strikingly unique exterior”. Suffice to say, it’s BMW’s widest ever car featuring illuminated kidney grille surrounds and a comically aggressive silhouette that suggests it is not in the mood for your taunts about its comically aggressive silhouette. Not least since it weighs a frankly astonishing 2,710kg.
So, the first ever BMW M hybrid. Long expected of course, and as befits BMW’s storied performance division, shares its genes with the M Hybrid V8 endurance racer set for the IMSA WeatherTech championship next year.
It’s an “extensively updated” version of BMW’s venerable 4.4-litre V8. The crank’s been reinforced, the turbos have been mounted close to the exhaust manifold and get an electrically controlled blow-off valve, and there are fancy oil pumps, sumps and separators.
BMW M reckons this ‘new’ V8 that provides 482 of 644 horsepowers has an “appetite for revs”, though don’t go expecting 812 Competizione-style drama: this one maxes out at 7,200rpm, and the V8’s done most of its hard work by 5,400rpm. Still, plenty of torque, available from 1,500rpm right up until 5k.
The remaining horsepowers come courtesy of a stowaway; an electric motor integrated into the XM’s eight-speed automatic gearbox and a 25.7kWh battery slotted into the XM’s vast underbody. That motor – that uses a pre-gearing stage to increase its torque at the transmission input – adds to the XM’s peak figure of 590lb ft, and on its own, can power the big M SUV between 51 and 55 miles at up to 87mph.
With everything sellotaped in ‘Getouttamyway’ mode, the XM claims 0-62mph in 4.3s, 0-124mph in 14.3s and a top speed limited to 155mph. Or limited again to 168mph if you’ve got the M Driver’s Package option.
There’s another option coming that might pique your interest, mind. Something called the BMW XM LABEL RED, and the reason it’s so shouty is because that car – scheduled for later in 2023 – features a 738bhp version of the same hybrid powertrain, and 738lb ft of torque. Feels like enough.
More than enough modes in the ‘regular’ XM, of course, that offer varying degrees of combustion and electric propulsion. ‘Hybrid’ sticks it all together, ‘Comfort’ uses more of the battery, and when that’s low deploys the engine as a generator. ‘Electric’ is… electric, the V8 kicking in when charge is low, or when you… kick it.
Which you might be tempted to do more often than not. There’s permanent four-wheel-drive with a rear-bias, an M Sport diff bespoke to this leviathan of a car, a second set of control arms to improve the response from the adaptive M dampers, and a set of chunky steel springs. There’s active roll stabilisation onboard the heavyweight, which must be the hardest working member of the setup, and active steering (uh oh).
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BMW’s fancy brake tech is also a standard fit, offering two pedal feel settings via an electric actuator triggering the braking response. What’s that famous Jurassic Park line about ‘could’ and ‘should’?
Speaking of feel, there’s lots of expensive materials inside, including black chrome, brushed aluminium, matt carbon, quilted Alcantara and LED illumination. The front seats are multifunction items, there’s ‘vintage’ leather on top of the usual plethora of hide deployed within, and a massive stereo.
Speaking of which, the V8’s noise is also piped into the cabin, but if that soundtrack’s a little too 20th century, then Hans Zimmer’s cooked up a score for the electric drivetrain.
Prices start at £144,980 in the UK, and it’ll be available next year. So, what’s your first and most pressing impression?