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BMW's 740 hp Concept XM PHEV Is the Most Powerful M-Car Ever

BMW's M division is getting a new vehicle that will be the brand's most powerful ever and will be only the second model sold exclusively with an M badge. The Concept XM is an angular and angry look at the production model set to arrive at dealers near the end of next year.

The BMW XM follows in the footsteps of the M1, a mid-engine coupe sold from 1978 through 1981 in extremely limited volumes. Don't expect this one to stay a rare sight on roads, however; the market's appetite for flashy crossovers has never been greater.

The XM will be offered exclusively as a plug-in hybrid, using a driveline BMW calls M Hybrid drive. It is set to deliver 740 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque, enough to make it the most powerful production M and put it well over all current competitors, and offer an electric range of up to 80 km thanks to electric motors and a V8 engine. The brand didn't get into the specifics of the drive arrangement further than that but expect this, the first BMW M electrified driveline, to be used in other models wearing the badge.

The styling is unmistakable. It is also a look at what BMW's "luxury-class" models will look like starting next year. Gone are the short-lived ultra-tall kidney grilles, replaced by ones that have stretched out laterally. Partnered with razor-thin and separated headlights and the effect is magnified to make the grilles absolutely dominate the nose.

At the back, the design is more in line with the BMW iX electric crossover, though as a PHEV instead of an EV, the XM gets four imposing tailpipes protruding from the rear bumper. Its LED taillights are more dramatically styled than the iX's, wrapping around into the fender and extending sharply downward toward the rear arches. The side view is, in BMW's words, made up of short lines that start boldly and fade, which it says make the design more modern and agile.

Inside, the Concept XM is driver-focused with a curved display screen, reminding you of its provenance with three centre air vents canted to look like the M badge on the boot. Up front, the concept wears vintage-look leather, but the rear bench is meant to be more lounge-like. It wears diamond-stitched velvet in an aquamarine shade. Those headrests are illuminated are part of an interior light show that glows in the M colours. BMW calls the back the M lounge, saying that the rear bench is "an inviting space to relax."

While far too early for pricing and detailed specifications, expect the production version to have serious M hardware underneath including large brakes (to fill up the 23-inch wheels), M-tuned all-wheel drive, and a chassis that is up to the increased power. Expect more as the model nears production late next year.