There were plenty of skeptics — and more than a few naysayers — when BMW rolled out the XM concept car ahead of the 2021 LA Auto Show. But the high-performance plug-in hybrid is back, and this time in production form.
Toned down just slightly from last year’s edgy show car, the XM is both the most powerful street-legal model the M brand has yet produced and its first original offering to get electrified. The timing of the exotic SUV coincides with the 50th anniversary of M — and comes as some of BMW’s high-performance rivals are tinkering with ways to electrify their own product lines.
“BMW M unleashes high performance in a form never experienced before. Innovative drive system technology, unique vehicle concept, a door opened into a whole new market segment and the ambition to attract n groups of customers,” the automaker said in a statement released with these pics offering the first unmasked look at the 2023 XM.
TwinPower meets hybrid power
The new SUV draws power from a newly designed 483-horsepower TwinPower Turbo V-8 paired with a 194-hp electric motor built into the XM 8-speed M Steptronic transmission. The combination produces a peak 644 hp and 590 pound-feet of torque which is sent to all four wheels through an M-tuned xDrive system. Using Launch Control, says BMW, you can hit 60 in 4.1 seconds.
The 25.7 kilowatt-hour battery, meanwhile, is expected to deliver about 30 miles of range when the XM is put into all-electric mode. Motorists can switch to battery-saver mode, saving a charged pack until they might need it. That gets them off the hook when entering one of the cities that either mandate zero-emissions or charge access fees for vehicles using internal combustion power.
From a performance standpoint, the production model actually falls a bit short of the original XM concept which, BMW officials said last year, could deliver 750 hp and 737 lb-ft of torque.
XM Label Red
The Bavarian automaker plans to come closer when it adds the XM Label Red model next year. That limited-run package will add even more luxury features, include unique paint, upholstery and wheel, while also boosting the hybrid drivetrains combined output to 735 hp and 735 lb-ft of torque.
The XM Concept clearly kicked off a debate when it made its debut. The use of a plug-in hybrid drivetrain was secondary to the show car’s over-the-top design. A single curved glass panel dominated the instrument panel, which was finished with carbon fiber pieces and interwoven copper threads.
The doors and front seats were finished in a rich cordovan leather with the texture of a favorite leather coat. BMW described the back seat as a “Lounge,” finishing it in a vibrant aquamarine — with seat bottoms made of a quilted fabric, while the backs were done in a matte-finish leather. The floor, meanwhile, featured deep pile carpeting, while a thick headliner uses both direct and indirect lighting,
A bit less edgy
The production model is less edgy — but only by a matter of degrees. The version shown in these factory images features thick brown Merino leather on the IP, roof and upper door surfaces. Contrasting blue is used for the seats, center console and lower surfaces. It all maintains the feel of a favorite old leather coat, BMW using a novel finishing process to highlight the “creases, scars and worn areas” of the leather surfaces.
The production SUV is designed to spark a buyer’s emotions, said BMW. What to do, then, with a drivetrain making solid use of generally silent electric motors.
A “sound experience”
Among the more novel touches saw M engineers develop a way to combine the sound of both elements of the powertrain. “The electric motor retains its aural accompaniment when the combustion engine is running,” it noted. “If the Sport or Sport Plus mode is engaged while in HYBRID driving mode a distinctive boost sound gives the driver an acoustic experience of the additional performance delivered the electric motor.”
In all-electric mode, the automaker added, it creates another distinctive sound “experience”
When BMW pulled the wraps of the XM concept last year, M CEO Frank van Meel suggested the show car“ It underlines the ability of BMW M GmbH to break with established conventions and push boundaries in order to offer fans of the brand the ultimate driving experience.”
AMG also goes hybrid
But the automaker isn’t unique in searching for the right way to electrify its performance products. Just last week, the automaker’s German rival rolled out the new 2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E. It’s also a plug-in hybrid — albeit one with a much smaller battery. The internal combustion side of the C 63 package is itself “the most powerful 4-cylinder ever,” Mercedes noted. It makes 480 horsepower out of a mere 2.0-liter displacement. Combined with a single, rear-mounted electric motor, the package produces a combined 671 hp and 752 pound-feet — 236 lb-ft more than the current, V-8-powered C 63.
The BMW XM goes into production towards the end of this year at the automaker’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Expect the first deliveries in 2023, pricing starting at $150,000 plus $995 in delivery fees. BMW plans to reveal the XM Label Red shortly afterwards and should have it in production later in 2023. It will carry an MSRP of $185,000 before delivery fees and will be produced in limited numbers, BMW noted.