Meet the 2023 BMW XM, the brand’s new range-topping performance model.
Yes, you read that right: this is the new top dog in the M division pack. It also happens to be powered by a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain, making it the first full-fledged M vehicle to be electrified.
Now before any of you sound off about the fact it’s an SUV, there are a couple points to consider. First and foremost, this is what people buy these days whether you like it or not, so get used to it. And it’s not as if the automaker has ditched coupes and sedans in favour of sport utilities; there are still plenty to pick from – some even have manual transmissions.
It’s also important to be grateful it doesn’t have that awful grille BMW has been slapping on its vehicles lately. In fact, according to a brand spokesperson, this wider take – dubbed the GKL face internally – previews the look for BMW’s most luxurious models moving forward, including the 8 Series and X7 SUV.
Those bemoaning the industry-wide shift towards electrification will be pleased such technology has yet to fully infiltrate BMW’s M division. However, those who’ve been waiting to find out what that zero-emissions future might look like will have to keep doing so.
Instead, the XM uses the same twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8 that powers the 8 Series, but it’s been paired with PHEV technology that provides an estimated electric driving range of 50 km. That’s thanks to an electric motor that’s housed within the transmission, plus a 19.2-kWh battery pack. On its own, the electric motor makes 194 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, according to BMW.
Official combined output numbers are 644 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque – more than the gas-only M8. There’s also speculation that this powertrain could find its way into the upcoming next-gen M5, though that’s unconfirmed at this point. When it comes to this sport utility, the PHEV powertrain propels it from a standing start to 100 km/h in a claimed 4.3 seconds.
If none of that quite cuts it for you, BMW also announced a so-called Red Label version that will apparently generate more than 735 hp and 735 lb-ft of torque.
Breaking from BMW tradition, the 2023 XM is a standalone performance model. While a brand spokesperson said some global markets may get a V6 version to comply with local demand and, more importantly, emissions regulations, there will be no lesser versions of this sport utility.
Even so, the styling isn’t as outright sporty as other M models, with a look that’s a little more Alpina-esque. There also happens to be just one proper BMW roundel badge outside – on the hood just behind the grille openings. Instead, the tailgate features a simple M badge, plus two subtle roundels have been etched into the glass as an homage to the legendary M1.
It wouldn’t be fair to call the grille openings kidneys anymore. If anything, they’re more like horizontally opposed lungs, assuming we’re sticking with the organ theme. Either way, they’re quite fetching both in pictures and in person, with an opportunity to poke around a pre-production model earlier this year at BMW’s Canadian HQ providing a sight for sore eyes compared to the likes of the all-electric iX.
There’s a sense of similarity to the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport from the rear three-quarter view, which certainly isn’t a criticism. Instead, it’s part of a collection of attractive-yet-understated creases and lines that ride high atop 23-inch wheels – the biggest ever from BMW. They also skip roundel centre caps in favour of a simple BMW wordmark.
Inside is much more like, say, the M4 coupe or i4 electric sedan than the iX. It’s something of a surprise given this sport utility’s status as a flagship BMW. The space is elegant nonetheless, with the brand’s first use of vintage leather, as well as some classy colour combinations, like brown and a teal-like hue, that make the space stand out. There are also all kinds of neat touches, like a parametric patterned headliner that adds a touch of modernity to the interior.
Production of the 2023 BMW XM is set to get underway later this year at the brand’s Spartanburg, S.C., assembly plant, with Canadian units set to arrive next spring. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.