BMW just unveiled its new super SUV, the XM. The XM is only the second BMW designed purely by the M division — the first since the BMW M1 in the late 1970s. It's the M Division's first electrified high-performance car. And starting at $159,000, it will be the most expensive vehicle in the BMW lineup.
We can't wait to drive the XM. It sounds like one of the most impressive vehicles to emerge this year. It's a landmark, statement vehicle for the brand. But the XM's appearance is so garish that it seems BMW mistook a loud statement for a strong one.
Plug-in hybrids aren't perfect. But they can be built now. And they can let their owner have both combustion performance and a relatively clean commute. And the XM PHEV engine sounds absolutely monstrous.
An updated version of BMW's twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 pushes out 483 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. That pairs with a 194 hp and 207 lb-ft electric motor (can drop up to 332 lb-ft if needed). Total system output is 644 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. BMW says the XM can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds and hit a top speed — with the M Driver's package — of 168 miles per hour.
With an estimate 30 miles of EPA range, the XM should be able to perform the average American commute without using a drop of gas.
The XM Concept powertrain had 750 hp — a lot more than 644 hp. That version will be called the XM Label Red, which BMW says will pack more than 735 hp and 735 lb-ft of torque and start at $185,000.
It's hard to know where to start with the XM's appearance. It's a cacophony of design elements and details that don't really tie together. It's okay to be unconventional and attention-grabbing with a car design. But there must be perspective, artistry and a reason for doing so besides being unconventional to grab attention.
The best place to start may be the front end, where the short overhang, concave face and expansive kidney grille make the XM look like a multiple-ton frying pan hit it head-on. The chrome element starts as conventional window trim, thickens at the Hoffmeister Kink and then darts into the middle of the door like my 5-year-old son was tracing and lost attention midstream.
Tiny slivers for headlights. Vertically oriented quad exhaust pipes because...that was a thing BMW could do? It's not often you look at a car with standard 23-inch rims, and that becomes an afterthought.
The Malaise Era that stretched from the 1970s into the 1980s was perhaps the most unfortunate era for car design. BMW produced many of the best-looking cars from that era. Those designs still resonate now because the cars are well-proportioned, unadorned and let the performance grab the attention. The XM is the antithesis of that.
Many cars getting unveiled now won't arrive until 2024. But the XM arrives much sooner than that. BMW says production will begin in Q4 2022 and the XM will be a 2023 model year vehicle.
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