2023 BMW XM: latest details and prototype drive
The BMW XM, previewed by last year’s Concept XM, is a plug-in hybrid that showcases the brand’s latest tech
- First plug-in hybrid M model
- Will be a standalone range-topping ‘M’ car
- Set to be most powerful model in BMW’s lineup
The BMW XM is currently in development ahead of its official launch in September, and we’ve driven an early prototype. Previewed by the BMW Concept XM, the high-performance plug-in hybrid celebrates the 50th anniversary of BMW’s M division. It’ll go on sale in March 2023, with prices in the region of £120,000.
A large plug-in hybrid SUV isn’t the sort of car that BMW M Performance made its name with, but the XM suggests the future direction of the German brand’s fastest models. There’s no ‘standard’ version; it’ll be exclusively available in the high-performance M specification.
The XM will be the first M model with a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain and will take on the Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus and the new Range Rover. The XM will become the second model in BMW’s ‘X” SUV range that doesn’t have a number in its name, after the fully electric iX SUV.
BMW Concept XM: design
The Concept XM offers a glimpse of what the brand’s next-generation flagship M models will look like, although the design of the final production car is likely to be toned down somewhat. The nose features a pair of oversized kidney grilles with slim triangular headlight clusters either side. The bonnet is a ‘clamshell’ style design, with a recessed BMW badge on the nose and an aggressive power bulge.
A profile view of the car reveals squared off wheel arches, black bodywork cladding and a set of large alloy wheels. The roofline slopes gradually towards the rear of the car, along with an upswept window line leading to an angular C-pillar.
The rear is possibly the most radical aspect of the concept’s design, with a recessed roofline cutting into the tailgate glass and a slim pair of LED strip lights wrapping around from the tailgate into the rear quarter panel. Below this, a stacked set of triangular quad exhaust tips are separated by a rear diffuser.
The interior of the Concept XM borrows design cues already seen in the new BMW iX SUV, with a more dedicated sports-car style design that BMW says is an “M interpretation of a driver-focused cockpit”. Both the infotainment screen and digital dial cluster are contained within a single continuous housing, a feature already seen in the iX. It runs an M-specific version of the brand's iDrive software, which gets unique displays for the hybrid system and EV driving mode.
Elsewhere, there’s red contrasting detailing on selected buttons and trim pieces, which is another feature that is shared with the current M5 and M8 models. The interior trim features carbon fibre on the centre console, with brown leather trim on the heavily bolstered front sports seats. This is contrasted by the rear seats, which are trimmed in dark green diamond-quilted velvet, a shade that BMW calls ‘Petrol’, along with contrasting black leather trim covering the upper sections and headrests. To match the mixed upholstery trim, BMW has also created an illuminated headlining that when lit up, has a three-dimensional effect.
The XM is powered by a turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine and an electric motor for a total of 644bhp, although the Concept XM delivered an even more impressive 739bhp. This is a new hybrid powertrain developed by the brand’s M Division specifically for the car.
The XM has a 25kWh battery and BMW has said that it’s capable of a pure-electric range of up to 50 miles, which is a similar figure to the 54 miles offered by the X5 xDrive45e plug-in hybrid.
BMW XM prototype review by Sean Carson
The BMW XM is a huge departure from traditional M cars like the M2 and M3. Huge is the right word, actually; BMW’s drivetrain engineer mentioned that the production-ready XM will weigh over 2.3 tonnes.
Fittingly, the 4.4-litre V8 and 161bhp electric motor are very potent, serving up a combined output of 644bhp. The motor produces 161bhp in normal modes, but can produce 194bhp for up to 10 seconds at a time. Zero-to-62mph acceleration is quoted at under five seconds.
We’d argue that it doesn’t feel quite as fast as that, though. The XM seems to lean quite heavily on the electric motor, and tries to be more evocative with piped-in V8 noise. BMW’s engineers did say that the powertrain could go up to the numbers mentioned on the Concept XM - perhaps a Competition or CS model is in the pipeline - and it could be used in the next BMW M5, too.
The plug-in hybrid technology looks to be impressive. BMW quotes an electric range of around 50 miles, but that may be underselling it judging by our test car, with its 60-mile estimate. Two regenerative braking settings are available, but neither are particularly strong. There’s no one-pedal driving setting, as it’d upset the balance of the car, we were told.
Clever anti-roll technology helps the XM to corner impressively flat, with none of the body roll that such a heavy car should have. It feels agile despite its size and it feels confident and grippy, even if the steering could do with a lot more feel. The suspension is firm on the standard 22-inch wheels; we expect it’ll be no softer on the optional 23s. That was in the most comfortable setting. Sport and Sport Plus dial up the firmness further still, to the point where the ride is unacceptable in what's going to be a six-figure luxury SUV.
The seats are comfortable, mind, and the interior is a mix of the familiar and the opulent. Rear-seat legroom is very generous. Even with the batteries stashed under the rear seats and a tapering roofline, headroom is good enough as well. Boot space could arguably be better; there’s a high floor but nowhere to hide the charging cable.
Nissan Ariya vs Volvo XC40 vs Volkswagen ID.4 - which is best?
2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N spotted testing
Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers