One of the auto industry’s worst kept secrets is finally being revealed. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the M performance division, BMW M has created first and only standalone M model since the M1. Oddly, it’s a high-performance plug-in hybrid crossover SUV.
On Tuesday after multiple leaks, the 2023 BMW XM became official with 644 hp, 30 miles of electric driving range, a new V-8 engine, and the automaker’s latest design language. The flagship will cost $159,995 when it arrives in the first fourth quarter of 2023. With its performance and pricing, the XM is aimed squarely at high-performance hybrid versions of the Porsche Cayenne.
New plug-in hybrid powertrain
The XM is powered by a new plug-in hybrid drivetrain producing a combined output of 644 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. A new twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 produces 483 hp, while an electric motor integrated into the 8-speed automatic transmission adds 194 hp. The XM will sprint from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds and has an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph, according to BMW. An optional M Driver’s Package will increase top speed to 168 mph, and in pure electric mode the XM can hit up to 87 mph.
All-wheel drive is standard, but it has a rear power bias via a multi-plate clutch distribution system. The system has 4WD, 4WD Sport, and 4WD Sand modes, with 4WD as the default. The 4WD Sport mode sends even more power to the rear wheels to heighten the rear-wheel bias. The 4WD Sand mode, which can only be turned on with stability control deactivated, engages a traction-optimization program that locks the differential for low-traction situations. The electronically locking rear differential can vary power from side to side to help push the XM around a corner and help curb understeer.
The electrified powertrain was created for real-world motorsports use as the same concept is employed by the automaker’s M Hybrid LMDh race car. The XM will have 30 miles of electric range based on preliminary testing using the EPA test cycle. Official EPA ratings have not been submitted yet. The 25.7-kwh (usable energy) battery pack can be recharged from 0% to 100% in 3.3 hours on a 240-volt outlet via a 7.4-kw onboard charging system.
Drivers will choose from Hybrid, Electric, and eControl driving modes. Hybrid mode, which is the default, will provide full system power and mix the electric motor and gas engine as needed. Electric mode will keep the powertrain running on electricity until the juice runs out, but the gas-powered engine will fire when the transmission is flipped into manual mode or the driver plants the accelerator pedal. The eControl mode will lock out the battery and maintain its state of charge so it can be used for pure-electric driving in urban areas or for later when called upon.
BMW XM: Red Label, but no air suspension
BMW said an XM Red Label model will be the first in a series of limited-edition Red Label models for the XM. Power output increases to 735 hp and 735 lb-ft of torque. Each of the XM Red Label models will feature model-specific paint, wheels, upholstery, and trim. The first will cost $185,995 when production begins in the summer of 2023.
The XM will employ steel springs and adaptive dampers instead of an air suspension. Aluminum components for the double-wishbone front axle and five-link rear axle will help save weight. BMW noted the XM has near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution and high degrees of front and rear wheel camber to aid with handling. However, that is likely offset by the massive 6,062-lb curb weight.
An electromechanical anti-roll bar system is standard. Powered by a 48-volt electric motor and supercapacitors, the system can decouple the fixed connection between each axle’s wheels while driving in a straight line. Around corners the active system can couple to suppress body lean and counteract the forces from the road.
The XM marks the first time an M-badged model features a rear-axle-steering system. The rear wheels turn in either the same or the opposite direction as the fronts depending on road speed. BMW hasn’t detailed the speeds or degrees at which the wheels can turn.
BMWXM: American-made, on sale in late 2023
The XM solidifies BMW’s design direction with the split front lighting design that first debuted on the 2023 7-Series and recently the refreshed 2023 X7. Looking nearly identical to the XM Concept, the XM features massive kidney grilles lit with LED lipstick. Active safety sensors are integrated into the lower front bumper.
Large 23-inch wheels fill the wells, and the rear features a quad exhaust. A depression in the top middle of the tailgate and etched BMW logos at the top of the rear glass pay homage to the M1.
The XM’s cabin will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in a recent BMW. The spartan dashboard features a curved wall of screens and the latest iDrive infotainment system controller on the center console. The two-row XM features seating for five with generous amounts of room for rear seat passengers, according to BMW. Vintage Merino leather trim can be ordered.
The XM will be built the automaker’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
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