BMW M has unveiled its first electrified model – and only its second bespoke vehicle – in its 50-year history, the plug-in hybrid XM.
First shown conceptually last November, the XM is the first BMW M original since the M1 supercar arrived in 1978. And unlike the M3s, M5s, and M4 CSLs for which the Bavarian brand’s performance division is synonymous, the XM is the first to feature an electrified drive system.
Production of the ‘Sports Activity Vehicle’ (SAV) has already been earmarked for December this year at BMW’s Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina, with prices for Canadian examples set to start at $220,000.
At the heart of the XM lies BMW’s ‘M Hybrid’ system, which mates a 483 hp, 479 lb-ft 4.4-litre V8 with a “further developed” TwinPower turbocharger, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and an electric motor producing a further 194 hp and 207 lb-ft. Further additions to the V8 include a more robust cooling system and a reinforced crankshaft.
The result is a combined 644 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque fed to all four wheels and ferocious acceleration: during what BMW calls “pre-gearing stage,” up to 332 lb-ft of that 800 Nm torque is available immediately for rapid snap off the line.
Indeed, even despite its sizeable 2,710 kg curb weight, the XM is still capable of 0-100 km/h in just 4.3 seconds and a 250 km/h top speed (270 km/h with the optional M Driver’s Package). This plants the XM firmly in Lamborghini Urus territory, a plug-in hybrid version of which is expected to arrive in 2024.
Interestingly, a variant of this hybridized V8 also powers the M Hybrid prototype with which BMW will take on the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2024.
Read more: The M Hybrid V8 is BMW’s Le Mans 2024 contender
When driven as a full EV, the electric motor and 25.7 kWh lithium battery pack alone – the latter mounted within the chassis itself to help lower the centre of gravity – is capable of a 140 km/h top speed, and boast an estimated electric range of between 82 and 88 km. Peak charging speed taps out at 7.4 kW, though this does mean, on DC fast-charge, that the battery can be replenished from zero to full in 4.25 hours.
‘Electric’ is one of three drive modes available on the XM (the V8 only kicks in if the driver activates the paddle-shift gearbox): ‘eCONTROL’ preserving, or increasing via regenerative braking, the battery capacity, while ‘Hybrid,’ predictably, works the V8 and electric motors in tandem, and also gives the driver access to the more dynamic ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Plus’ modes. Selecting either means more power and torque is directed to the rear wheels for M-esque driving dynamics.
The already-polarizing aesthetics are dominated by some of the largest kidney grilles we’ve seen yet on a BMW, which sit between twin sets of headlights previously showcased on the X7. Though less brash than the concept, the XM’s rear does still feature similarly long, sleek tail lamps, dual hexagonal exhaust pipes mounted one atop the other, and, interestingly, the BMW logo stencilled on the rear glass rather than the bodywork, the resultant ‘XM’ badge thus proving more dominant.
While 22-inch and 23-inch alloys will be available, the XM will feature 21-inch alloys as standard, behind which are coil-spring suspension – BMW having opted against air suspension – paired with active dampers and active anti-roll bars, power for which is provided by a dedicated 48-volt electrical system. Though it shares the same ‘CLAR’ chassis as the X7 SUV, deft use of aluminum, specific to the XM, helps to reduce overall mass while simultaneously increasingly structural rigidity.
Rear-wheel steering, similar to that used on the newly-launched Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E-Performance, also makes its BMW M debut on the SAV.
To celebrate the vehicle’s official arrival early 2023, BMW has confirmed it will release the ‘BMW XM Label Red’ in summer, the first of a planned ‘XM Label’ limited edition series moving forward. Alongside the expected cosmetic tweaks, BMW has confirmed that power and torque for the Label Red will be boosted up to 748 hp and 735 lb-ft of torque respectively, though no word has been made re a potential MSRP.