Published on September 28th, 2022 | by Subhash Nair


BMW XM Debuts – 1st BMW M PHEV Has No Good Angles

The production-ready BMW XM has finally unveiled and it’s designed to divide opinions.

BMW M has come a long way over the decades. With performance gains, also comes some compromises in terms of purity. Rather than ignore or skirt around this issue, BMW has decided to take the change head on with a product that reflects the changing circumstances of the performance car market – the BMW XM.

BMW XM rear three quarter

The BMW XM has been in development for quite some time, but we got a look at what it would bring late last year when the official concept car was shown. BMW made it clear that the M division would be making its own exclusive product. Not only would this BMW M exclusive be a luxury SUV, it would also be the performance arm’s first ever hybrid product. In fact, now we’ve learnt that the production XM will be a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

With such a stark departure from M’s traditional portfolio, the company also decided to go for a design that reflects this change. We’ve already become accustomed to large kidney grilles over the years, but this kidney grille is just obnoxiously large and over emphasised. The split headlight design will also take some getting used to, but the new 7 and facelifted X7 should soften the blow somewhat.

The new BMW XM is extremely uncomfortable to look at from just about every angle. But it’s possibly the most honest way to go about such an alien product for BMW M.

The BMW XM benefits from the 5th generation of BMW eDrive technology and builds on an extensively updated 4.4L V8 twin-turbocharged engine. Updates to the engine in brief:

  • Cross-bank exhaust manifold
  • Reinforced crankshaft drive
  • Turbocharging
    • now mounted close to the exhaust manifold
    • with an electrically controlled blow-off valve
    • with a new vane-type oil pump
    • with a weight-minimized plastic oil sump
  • Optimized oil separation process with variable impactor
  • VALVETRONIC now with a switchable rocker arm on the exhaust side for better brake regen

This petrol motor now outputs 483hp and it is paired to a 194hp electric motor within the 8-speed M Steptronic auto gearbox. The total system output of this PHEV system is 644hp at 5,400rpm and roughly 800Nm of torque between 1,600-5,000rpm.

Power is channelled to all four wheels via the M xDrive system. This system is rear-biased and this can be enhanced further by putting it in 4WD Sport mode under M Dynamic Mode with the DSC off. There are also other modes such as 4WD Sand.

Pure electric driving range is very conservative at just under 50km and up to 140km/h. The electric motor in here is the same one that is being put through endurance racing in the BMW M Hybrid V8. 0-100km/h takes about 4.1 seconds and top speed is 270km/h with the optional M Driver’s Package.

The lithium-ion battery used in here has a usable energy content of 25.7 kWh. Plugged in, it can accept AC charging up to 7.4 kW, which takes 3 hours and 15 minutes to fully charge. The large front grilles are not just there to make the car look hideous. They’re there to house large heat exchangers responsible for keeping the M Hybrid drive system optimally cooled. The whole system has been optimised to keep pumping rates low and cooling rates high.

The BMW XM was engineered with a nearly 50/50 weight distribution, a very rigid body, a low centre of gravity, double wishbone front suspension and a five-link rear axle. BMW Adaptive M suspension is standard.

In terms of its interior, most of it was shown during the concept but many aspects have been scaled down for the production model. There are loads of high quality materials in use here including Alcantara on the pillars and headliner and BMW Individual Merino leather and nappa leather on seats and trim pieces.

While we do appreciate the vintage look leather that is optional in the interior, it is questionable that BMW is simultaneously condemning leather for being too water and energy intensive while also “authentically celebrating leather as a natural product” here. There must be one standard for the 1% who can afford a car like the XM and another for the rest of the middle class.

Speaking of pricing and demographics, you might actually want to hold off on ordering an XM if you really want the real real deal. BMW has already promised that they’re working on an even more powerful version of the XM called the BMW XM Label Red. This one will come in Q3 2023 for US$185,000 and have 735hp and nearly 1000Nm of torque. Wouldn’t want to have the slow BMW XM, would you?

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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