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► It’s BMW’s new hybrid flagship
► A power-hungry SUV with brash styling
► And a PHEV with excessive engineering
The XM’s squared off bow could have been shaped by a moonlighting Peterbilt designer, the contrasting matt gold accents would have done the late Gianni Versace proud, the four stacked tailpipes pay a late hommage to the Ferrari Portofino, the optional 23in jewel wheels make kerb rash insurance highly advisable.
The XM, in no unclear terms, a love-hate monument made of pressed steel, cast aluminium and polished carbon fibre. But unlike the beaver tooth M4 or the overly ornamental i7, the XM is a self-assured statement of unbridled power and grunt. Adore it or despise it, it for sure won’t leave you cold. Read our review of the BMW XM below.
Is this an EV or a hybrid?
It’s a hybrid, and one with serious power. Redlined at a lofty 7200rpm, the revised 4.4-litre V8 develops 489bhp and 479lb ft available between 1600 and 5000rpm. The roarty combustion engine is partnered by a 197bhp electric motor good for an instant 206lb ft. In sync, this adds up to 653bhp and 590lb ft. In theory, that’s plenty.
How does it drive?
In contrast to many rivals, this BMW does without air springs, carbon-ceramic brakes and active aerodynamics. Instead, the CTO Dirk Häcker and his team opted for steel springs, adaptive dampers, adjustable anti-roll bars, four-wheel steering and extra-wide tyres measuring up to 23in in diameter.
Its weight and the sticky XXL Pirellis provide unreal quantities of magnetic roadholding, the active anti-sway bars keep body roll nicely in check, and the steering is a totally reassuring if not wholly inspiring control mechanism. The strong brakes decelerate with aplomb time after time, and fading is an alien term to the all-steel apparatus, but the pedal effort increases under stress and over the last twenty car lengths before the vehicle comes to a halt.
According to the WLTP norm, plug-in hybrids combine the best of both worlds. In reality, however, the e-power advantage vanishes as soon as the depleted battery needs to be recharged en route again and again by the combustion engine. In the case of our XM, the mpg numbers duly deteriorated as soon as the V8 took over and started feeding the sizeable 25.7kWh energy pack.
As expected, a host of different dynamic modes vie for the driver´s attention. For a start there is Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. Next, you must choose from default Hybrid, Electric and eControl which is BMWspeak for recharging the battery on the fly. Last but not least, the cockpit invites the commander to fine-tune the engine response, shift speed, stability control, damper calibration, three-step energy regeneration, digital sound processing and the exhaust note as well as the brake and steering action both of which can assume a sportier or a more comfort-oriented behaviour
What about inside?
The XM treats driver and passenger with the usual chrome, leather and piano black razzmatazz, but the dominating features are the tall, curved trademark display which stretches across two thirds of the facia, and the radically cleaned up centre console.
Gone are the coveted pre-select buttons, the once easy to use air vents, the intuitive climate control knobs and the direct-access keys for the heated and ventilated seats. Luckily, the iDrive controller is still there, but it now masterminds so many functions that voice command has become a useful second.
How much is it?
You can either write a cheque for £148 and order the very well equipped 653bhp base model XM, or put your name down for the even pricier 748bhp Label Red model out later this year. In either case, be prepared to wait up to two years for this new M car which shares its PHEV drivetrain – and the weight penalty it entails – with the next M5. The few available options are mainly cosmetical: bigger wheels, fancier trim, special paint. Those interested in a sunroof and a third row of seats must shop elsewhere.
The M boys also believe EVs are the future, but since their four-motor 1MW battery-powered supercar is still at least five years away, they must plug the gap by beating the drum for their brawny PHEV offering; which is much more than a stopgap solution. But is it?
The XM accelerates in 4.3sec from 0-62mph and will reach the 125mph mark exactly ten seconds later, the X5M Competition does the job in an even quicker 3.9sec – and it costs 20grand less. Second thoughts, anybody? Another option is the unpretty and pricey iX M60 which matches the XM against the stopwatch while boasting a remarkable 352 mile planet-friendly range. Could it be that the air is getting a little thin up there for the latest crackerjack from the M skunkworks?
If you like the looks, the status and the execution, the most controversial M car to date ticks all the right boxes, albeit at a sky-high price. Dynamically though, the X5 M Competition is the more compelling choice, and in terms of high-performance clean-air appeal, the visually equally debatable iX M60 leaves no CO2 footprint at all.
|Price when new:||£148,000|
|On sale in the UK:||End of 2022|
|Engine:||4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 plus battery pack and e-motor, 653bhp, 590lb ft @ 2400rpm|
|Transmission:||Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive|
|Performance:||4.3sec 0-62mph, 155mph (limited), 188 mpg, 35g/km, 50-mile electric range|
|Weight / material:||2800kg (est)|
|Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):||5100/2200/1730|