- The BMW XM starts at $159,900 plus $995 for delivery
- It boasts 644 horsepower and up to 30 miles of all-electric range
- A more powerful XM Label Red is on the way next summer
BMW’s fabled M division usually has one job. It takes the company’s ordinary vehicles – already known for their performance – and uses tricks learned from its long history in racing to turn them into exceptionally high-performance machines.
Two times in its history, it has deviated from that formula, and built a car from scratch. The first was the late-1970s M1 supercar. The second is this, a midsize plug-in hybrid SUV built to get your pulse racing and the internet’s opinion sections screeching.
Meet the 2023 BMW XM.
With an opulent interior, a polarizing look, and power strapped to its power for more power, the XM is headed for dealerships in the fourth quarter. It will start at $159,000 plus a $995 delivery fee. Buyers must put down a $5,000 deposit to take their place in line.
644 horsepower, 30-mile electric range
is playing a bit of an advertising game in calling this the second pure M car. It uses some off-the-shelf components from other BMWs. It rides on the same cluster architecture platform chassis as much of the current BMW lineup. And, under the hood, you’ll find the M team’s favorite toy.
The well-known 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 is found in many M cars and the 760i ultra-luxe sedan. Here, it makes 483 horsepower on its own, but it doesn’t work alone. It’s mated to a 194-horsepower electric motor. Both send power through the same 8-speed automatic transmission, and by the time it gets to the wheels, it somehow totals 644 horses.
Zero-to-60 comes in 4.1 seconds (faster than most versions of that low-slung ’70s supercar), and top speed is limited to 155 mph. Spring for the M Drivers Package, and BMW will bump the limiter to 168 to help you get tickets.
It has 30 miles of all-electric range and can travel up to 87 mph on electricity alone.
Every XM is all-wheel drive, slightly biased to the rear because this is a BMW. Active roll stabilization helps you stay flat in the turns. A first for an M car, it gets 4-wheel-steering.
If all of that doesn’t impress you, BMW will release a more powerful XM Label Red next summer. It’s good for 735 horsepower.
Automotive journalists have some strange habits. Maybe not 100% of us, but enough of us that it’s weird. There’s a strange predilection for collecting watches (blissfully rare in the KBB staff, but all over auto journo Twitter
). Many love tiny trucks to an irrational degree – probably a coping mechanism in response to the oversized work trucks we often get assigned to evaluate when few of us live where they make sense.
And, almost to a writer, automotive journalists complain about how BMWs look. This one more than any other. The reaction to BMW’s latest design has been shock and a lot of mockery.
But we’re just gonna be the pariah here and say this has real charm. Yes, it’s wearing an oversized gold chain. But it’s working it.
The XM wears the big boar snout that has polarized BMW fans on the 7 Series, the iX, and other recent designs. It heard that some people don’t like that look, so it decorated its big nostrils in gold to spite them. Its eyes…er…headlights look narrowed to slits like it’s about to charge you. And it wears gold on its wheels and window trim, in a soft shade like sunlight through polarized glasses.
And all of that works with this angular design theme. The proportions even serve to balance out the vehicle’s size. It’s nearly as long as the X7 but doesn’t look huge from any angle.
Then there’s the cabin, which is design elevated to art.
Interesting colors, hundreds of tiny lights
BMW offers four trim color combinations but clearly favors one that combines a medium blue called Deep Lagoon Merino leather with a vintage brown like a baseball glove above the midline. The now-ubiquitous curved housing combining the touchscreen and driver’s instrument panel is canted toward the driver severely enough that passengers will probably feel like they’re invading the driver’s personal space if they change a setting.
The headliner is unique, made of Alcantara in a fractal pattern with 100 embedded LED lights that adjust lighting according to time of day and driving mode.
Some driver assistance systems are standard, like automatic emergency braking and Evasion Assistant (it helps you steer around road obstacles, not laser blasts, though it sounds like the latter). Others, like active cruise control, are added-cost options.
That seems a bit strange in an era when even budget automakers often throw them in. But no one price-conscious buys an M-designed car with gold accents.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.