The week surrounding the 2022 fall equinox has been an exciting one for BMW fans. In the last seven days, there have been not just one, not two, but three big announcements from BMW. (Four if you count Mini’s 69th special edition.) Last Thursday, BMW held a launch party for their new M Hybrid V8 LMDh race car—see Kyle van Hoften’s exclusive story and photos from the event—and today BMW hit us with a one-two punch of the 2023 Z4 roadster and the first-ever high-performance vehicle from BMW M with an electrified powertrain, the XM.
Looking back, we saw the XM Concept last November, we’ve seen the driving reviews of the camouflaged XM prototype, and we’ve tried to read between the lines when BMW drops knowledge nuggets about this first standalone M model since the M1. Well, now it’s officially here and BMW has brought all of the production version’s details to light.
On the surface, the BMW XM is a uniquely styled, 644-horsepower, 590-pound-feet-of-torque, 6,062-pound machine that BMW thinks is performant enough to be worthy of an M designation. Those are just numbers though, so let’s take a closer look at the first BMW XM.
As I’ve been following the XM from concept to prototype to production, the first two questions on my mind are “What exterior features have changed from concept?” and “Were the performance numbers accurate?” From an exterior styling perspective, we’ve already seen some differences from the concept lurking behind the camouflage prototype body. BMW describes the production version’s front end as using “smooth surfaces and sharp edges to bring clarity and confidence. Alongside the fresh interpretation of the twin headlights and BMW M kidney grille, the large air intakes are a defining feature.” In addition, the M kidney grille sports “contour lighting in the form of a sharply drawn, unbroken light ring.”
The standard adaptive LED headlights are split into separate areas, which differs from the concept, but could be seen in the prototype and are now clear in the production version. BMW states, “The daytime driving lights, side lights and turn indicators are integrated into the ultra-slim, crisply contoured upper elements, each consisting of two LED units. The low-beam and high-beam headlights are positioned in the lower, darkened area of the headlight units deeply embedded in the front apron.”
Moving down the side of the XM, there is high-gloss black trim outlining the side windows. BMW calls the trim that borders the D-pillar “a fresh imagining of the Hofmeister kink.” Perhaps they’ll update the Hofmeister kink website with some new roads, based on the XM’s unique shape.
At the rear of the XM, the roof slopes inward, creating an angular and sporty transition from the top of the hatch to the rear glass, which are engraved with BMW logos. BMW notes that “a special laser engraving technique ensures the logos stand out against the dark glass surface.” More high-gloss black trim is incorporated into the rear diffuser, along with vertically arranged reflectors at the sides. The exhaust outlets are hexagonally shaped and stacked vertically, just like in the concept, which is a new treatment for M vehicles.
Power and Performance
As previously reported, the XM will use BMW’s all-new S68 engine, making this unique model a plug-in hybrid. The twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 will make 483 horsepower on its own. The electric motor integrated into the XM’s eight-speed M Steptronic transmission boosts horsepower numbers by 194 for a grand total of 644 horsepower at 5,400 rpm. Torque is up from the original estimates of 500 pound-feet to a confirmed 590 between 1,600 and 5,000 rpm.
As this M car has “X” in its name, it will be fitted with the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system. With all-wheel drive and an M launch control system, BMW reports 0-60 mph goes by in just 4.1 seconds. Not bad for a vehicle with a reported curb weight of 6,062 pounds. Estimates put the XM in the high 5,000-pound range, but the official numbers show it eclipsing 6,000 pounds. BMW reports, “Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, or 168 mph if the optional M Driver’s Package is specified. The top speed in pure electric mode is 87 mph.”
In addition to sharing it’s hybrid architecture with BMW’s new LMDh race car, this S68 does receive a number of trick enhancements including a cross-bank exhaust manifold, a reinforced crankshaft drive, a new vane-type oil pump, improvements to the air/oil separation process, and a “switchable rocker arm on the exhaust side” that can be completely closed to feed braking energy back into the battery.
A higher-power version of the XM was previously teased, and that too will become a reality in 2023. BMW plans to “reveal a special model in the BMW XM line-up: the BMW XM Label Red. The BMW XM Label Red will be the first in a series of BMW XM Label models, and available for a limited period of time. This special model will feature over 735 horsepower and 735 pound-feet of torque, unique paint, wheel, upholstery, and trim selections.” If this is the first in the series of “Label” models, we’ll have to wait and see if they get more or less powerful in future releases. There was talk of a “Label Black”, so that may also be on the horizon.
We’ve known that the XM would come with three driving modes that would control the balance of combustion and electric motors: M Hybrid, Electric, and eControl. Hybrid mode is just that; both the V8 and electric motor are used in tandem. Further adjustment of the Hybrid mode can be made in the “M Setup menu”—wait, this sounds like more than three driving modes already—with settings for Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus modes.
In Electric mode, the XM only uses the electric motor. This is good up to 87 mph with an anticipated range of only 30 miles. Rumors originally put the expected electric-only range at 50 miles, but this number has gone down for the official release.
eControl mode lets the XM maintain a charge on the battery used by the electric motor. This way the pure electric mode can be called upon at a later time and still have a full charge. With the three submodes of the Hybrid setting, I count six modes.
BMW must have applied some magic dust to get this 6,062-pound machine to be worthy of an M designation in the handling department. That magic dust comes in a few forms, the first being an XM-specific M Sport differential, sending maximum power equally to both rear wheels, that works hand-in-hand (or axel-in-axel in this case) with the M xDrive system.
Next, the XM hides its weight well with nearly 50/50 weight distribution. That’s only 3,031 pounds per half, each half still weighing more than 400 pounds than my E30! The M Hybrid’s battery is positioned in the XM’s floor, giving it a very low center of gravity compared to other BMW SAVs, like the X7. In addition to M Adaptive suspension, the XM comes with linear steel springs up front and progressives in the rear. The chassis is built with many rigid aluminum components, such as the control arms and rear-axle subframe.
Active roll stabilization piqued my interest. The XM uses a dedicated 48V electrical system to drive motors built into the front and rear anti-roll bars. Based on the driving mode, the anti-roll bars can further stiffen making the XM corner flatter, with less body roll. BMW adds, “The Active Roll Comfort function goes further by enabling the system to actively suppress rolling movements caused by bumps in the road on one side of the vehicle rather than just reduce them. This allows any loss of ride comfort on rough roads to be minimized more effectively.”
The last bit of magic dust allows the rear wheels to steer, which BMW calls Integral Active Steering. This is the first time it has appeared in an M model. BMW explains, “Turning the rear wheels as well as the fronts makes light work of tight, low-speed maneuvers, increases agility at moderate speeds, and enhances poise and assurance at high speeds, especially when changing lanes.”
23-inch M light-alloy wheels come standard and wear high-performance tires in a staggered setup. The fronts measure in at 275/35 R23 and the rears at 315/30 R23.
BMW describes the XM’s interior as an “exclusive M lounge” based on the “generous feeling of space, high-quality materials, and bold design.” The large curved display, running BMW’s latest iDrive 8 software, is a centerpiece amongst generous use of matte carbon fiber.
Seats and door cards have a stitched three-dimensional quilted pattern, and it seems like nearly all of the surfaces have optional heating elements. To go along with a number of seating surface materials, BMW offers that “Vintage Coffee Merino leather may be specified for the upper sections of the instrument panel and door trim panels.” The draw to the “vintage” option being uniqueness per vehicle due to the “highlights, creases, scars, and worn areas” in the natural material.
Another unique part of the XM is the sculptured headliner. BMW described the headliner as
“Fiber-optic light guides containing 100 LEDs are integrated into the headliner’s “picture frame” border to produce constant or dynamic light effects within its sculptural design, depending on the situation and selected driving mode. Dynamic pulses of light in the interior are also used to signal an incoming phone call or highlight the risk of a potential collision when opening a door.”
Price estimates were on the expensive side for this high-end M vehicle and the reality isn’t far off. Base MSRP starts at $159,000 plus $995 destination and handling. Want more power? Wait for the Label Red version, which will start over $185,000.
Production is planned to start in the fourth quarter of this year at Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina.
There you have it! Eleven months of build up and we finally have the details for the production version of XM! I am looking forward to checking one out in person, perhaps a local dealer will have an allocation or I’ll see one at a Cars & Coffee event. With the LMDh race car, the 2023 Z4, and the all-new XM all being unveiled back-to-back, I can’t wait to see what BMW will do to top this. —Mike Bevels
[Photos courtesy of BMW.]