As a fusion of style, luxury and speed bedecked with electrification, the 2023 BMW XM takes some time to digest. Being a plug-in hybrid SUV, it’s already an acquired taste. However, as the new flagship of the company’s M performance division – not to mention its first bespoke model since the M1 supercar of the 1970s – the XM has raised eyebrows since it debuted as a concept in 2021, and not only for her light-up kidney grills and stunning body jewelry. We’ve been looking forward to trying out a production version since we ran a development prototype last year. Now we do, and we’re left wondering if there are too many ingredients in your mix.
You’ll need to put up with an exorbitant base price of $159,995 to dine with XM. This is a fat-rich two-row SUV, weighing in at around 6100 pounds, several hundred pounds more than the last three-row X7 we tested. Mechanically related to that model and the smaller X5 and X6, the XM shares its 122.2-inch wheelbase with its bigger brother, but is 2.4 inches shorter, slightly wider and with a 3-inch roofline, 1 inch lower. This is a big vehicle, although it manages its visual weight well, especially if you choose a darker color and forgo the free NightGold Metallic exterior finish.
Despite its flashy photos and array of BMW Individual paint options, the XM can look attractive and subdued if you want it to. Step-size summer tires wrapped around massive 23-inch wheels, which can also be finished in gold, are standard, with 22-inches optional. As with other M models, all-season tires are not offered.
Built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the XM currently only comes one way: with a total of 644 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful BMW SUV available. A more exclusive Label Red version with at least 735 horsepower and a starting price of over $185,000 will be added later this year. For now, the recipe includes 483 horsepower from a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, plus an additional 194 horsepower from an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. All that kick goes through an all-wheel drive system with variable rear rake and an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential. With the help of launch control, an estimated 60mph time of 3.8 seconds should make the XM as fast as an X7 M60i, which gets by on a mere 523 horsepower. As you’d expect from a modern BMW, you can change the XM’s flavor through a variety of settings for the drivetrain, suspension, steering effort and brake pedal response.
While many performance SUVs are even faster, few have the electric-only capability of the XM. A large lithium-ion battery (for a PHEV) with 19.2 kWh of usable capacity resides under the floor and should be good for around 30 miles of EV range. EPA numbers aren’t out yet, but fuel economy ranges from thirsty to economical depending on how you drive it. In Electric mode (there’s also a standard Hybrid configuration plus an eControl mode that holds the battery charge for later), we can quickly accelerate away from the stops and onto the highway without touching the petrol engine. Top speed as an EV is quoted at 87 mph, compared to 155 or 168 mph in full chat, depending on whether you opt for the $2,500 million driver package. Regenerative braking has two settings – too little and some – with most of the energy recovery perfectly blended into the pedal controlling the large six-piston front and single-piston rear brakes. Forget one-pedal steering, but at least the XM’s V-8 isn’t necessary for short city trips. The built-in 7.4 kW charger can replenish the battery from zero to 100% in about three hours via a 240-volt outlet.
Driven like an M car on winding mountain roads, the XM follows the family tradition. We wish more new BMWs had such a smooth, progressive ride, with welcome feedback and a smooth increase in cornering effort. While the XM’s sheer mass keeps it from looking overtly raunchy, adaptive dampers, 48-volt active anti-roll bars and rear-axle steering help keep it flat and balanced through corners. Overall power delivery is strong in Sport mode, with immediate assistance from the electric motor lending the XM extra boost in tight corners, helping to fill in torque interruptions between transmission shifts. Those hoping for a deep V-8 growl might be disappointed, as its active exhaust emits a raspy growl more befitting a V-6 (additional V-8 sound effects layered with an EV-like hum are channeled through the speakers). stereo speakers).
However, the decision to use conventional coil springs rather than the more compliant air springs – a call that favors chassis precision over comfort – is problematic for a vehicle that also features a roomy rear seat that BMW calls the M Lounge. . While far from rough, the XM’s ride is busy in small high-frequency bumps, even in Comfort mode on the slick Arizona pavement of our route. Sprawled out in the cushy backseat (single captain’s chairs not available) with its cushions and expansive 40.3 inches of legroom, we could feel the jitters seeping through the chassis, spoiling the ambiance. Likewise, the flat rear seat’s lack of lateral support means you’ll need to brace yourself if the driver decides to have some fun behind the wheel.
That’s not to say the XM’s beautifully finished cabin doesn’t exude richness. There are artistic shapes, smooth leather and contrasting color schemes available that flow tastefully from the seats to the door panels and all the way to the geometrically sculpted headliner framed by mood lighting. Luxury amenities surround the pampering front seats, and all the driver assistance features in BMW’s arsenal are present, as is the company’s curved dashboard for the latest iDrive 8 infotainment system with 12.3 and 14″ tandem screens, 9 inches under a single pane of glass. Open the hatch (notice the BMW wheels etched into the rear window) and there’s a decent 19 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats.
However, the lack of attention to detail in the second row highlights the XM’s compromises. While heaters for the outer rear seats and armrests are standard, there’s no seat adjustment, massage function, side window privacy blinds or dedicated entertainment system. The distant climate controls on the back of the center console look borrowed from a mass-market X5. And unlike pretty much every other expensive luxury SUV, you can’t customize the XM’s interior beyond the four standard color and trim combos.
We imagine that the XM’s intended clientele – 80% of which BMW hopes to find in the US and China, many of which are new to the brand – won’t be too annoyed that it’s not as quick and sybaritic as it could be. The XM’s many indulgences, including its respectable EV capability, can be had for thousands less than, say, a Bentley Bentayga or a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. But as the pinnacle of the M brand, the XM is less a delicacy and more a hodgepodge of features that leaves a muddled aftertaste. We were hoping for the more upscale Label Red model before booking.
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