From the July/August 2023 challenge of Automotive and Driver.
Let’s faux the letter M does not exist.
In some alternate universe, the place the alphabet skips proper from L to N, this confounding new SUV would merely be known as the X. That may be a fairly good identify. With X, you’ve got obtained some intrigue: X-Males, X-Recordsdata, X Video games. Whereas, for BMW, the letter M is freighted with expectation. If you see that rakish M flanked by tricolor stripes, you count on scalding efficiency, restrained however sporty styling, and visceral responses. You may not at all times get all of that, but it surely’s what the badge guarantees. So what will we make of an M-branded 6054-pound SUV with fats black billboard stripes and customary throw pillows on the rear seats? The final time we noticed an XM this weird, it had hydropneumatic dampers and was a Citroën. The XM is BMW’s first M-exclusive mannequin since the unique M1, and for a second, it held the title of strongest manufacturing BMW ever (that superlative now belongs to its sibling, the 738-hp XM Label Pink).
On the internal-combustion aspect, the XM will get a 483-hp twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 with a cross-bank exhaust manifold that makes it sound like an off-world chain noticed felling bushes throughout the Kepler exoplanets. Downstream from that prime mover, the torque converter is changed by a moist clutch and a 194-hp electrical motor that’s, like a Taylor Swift viewers, completely excited. The motor makes 207 pound-feet of torque however has its personal gearing to multiply that quantity to 332 pound-feet on the enter to the eight-speed automated transmission. All instructed, the XM musters 644 horsepower and 590 pound-feet.
That may be extra spectacular if there weren’t 19 different corporations providing automobiles with extra horsepower than that. And even when it comes to intramural bragging rights, the XM’s horsepower benefit over different BMWs is actually canceled by its weight. The X7 M60i rides on the identical 122.2-inch wheelbase because the XM however presents three rows of seating to the XM’s two rows and weighs 216 kilos lower than the flashy hybrid. The XM will win a drag race, hitting 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, however the X7 is a mere 0.4 second behind. And the X7 M60i’s base worth is simply past $104,000, whereas the XM begins at $159,995. Order the Bowers & Wilkins sound system ($3400), Silverstone and Classic Espresso leather-based inside ($2500), and the M Driver’s package deal ($2500), and you have just about run the desk on choices and arrived at our as-tested worth of $168,395.
We’re guessing that for the XM’s meant viewers, that quantity is not surprising or dissuading—reasonably extra like a monetary moat guaranteeing exclusivity from the X5-driving hoi polloi. As a lot because it’s an SUV, the XM is a declaration of decadence. It is Style Week in Milan and Artwork Basel in Miami, a chunk of sculpture you are not meant to grasp instantly or presumably ever. Think about the textured headliner flanked by fiber-optic gentle guides and 100 LEDs: It is awash with softly pulsing blue gentle when the automobile is plugged in and sends the pink and blue hues of the M emblem streaking towards the again of the automobile on startup, a residing organism using alongside above you. The blocky 3-D BMW emblem within the middle of the 23-inch wheels seems to be like some sort of Lego piece, snapped on as the ultimate step. The charging cable lives in a customized duffel bag—leather-based and quilted material with a gold-colored zipper. The “M Lounge” rear seats embody these throw pillows, which you will wish to retailer securely earlier than any Nürburgring file makes an attempt. The controversial grille is proudly outlined in LEDs, and the elective NightGold metallic trim appears impressed by the stripe on Starsky and Hutch’s Gran Torino. As you might have realized by now, the XM does not do refined.
Nicely, besides possibly when it is in electrical mode. Because of its 19.2-kWh battery—which permits 29 miles of vary at 75 mph—and comparatively sturdy electrical motor, the XM is completely able to operating round city as an EV. But it surely at all times feels a bit wretched to toggle into EV mode and know you’ve got obtained a 483-hp V-8 that is simply catching a experience. Way more satisfying to push one of many pink M buttons on the steering wheel and cue all of the accessible horsepower. In EV mode, 87 mph constitutes high pace. With the V-8 becoming a member of the social gathering, 90 mph is yours in 6.8 seconds. So sure, the XM is fast, however an 11.7-second quarter-mile at 119 mph locations it in arrears of its electrical counterpart, the iX M60, which dispatches that activity in 11.5 seconds at 120 mph. And, do you have to neglect to cost the XM, its EPA-estimated 46 MPGe mixed drops to a mere 14 mpg for gasoline solely.
Furthermore, the XM driving expertise is discombobulated in a method peculiar to this explicit hybrid structure. “This jogs my memory of a Jeep Wrangler 4xe” will not be one thing you wish to suppose whereas helming a $160K BMW, however the XM suffers from the identical flummoxed drivetrain conduct because the Jeep, as the 2 share the same ZF electrified eight-speed transmission. There’s simply an excessive amount of occurring. On this case, we now have a V-8 with turbos which might be on enhance or not, a moist clutch, an electrical motor with its personal gearing, after which an eight-speed automated transmission sending energy onward to all 4 wheels—through one other electronically managed clutch to handle torque entrance to rear and an M Sport rear differential dealing with torque distribution aspect to aspect. There’s an abruptness to the shifts and throttle response that betrays the complexity of the setup, and typically it looks as if there’s an estrangement between the computer systems operating these disparate techniques. As an example, we blundered into the rev limiter greater than as soon as when utilizing the shift paddles as a result of the XM took so lengthy to contemplate the ramifications of an upshift. Different instances, it will upshift promptly, so there isn’t any adjusting your timing. The transmission provides you fastballs and change-ups, and an occasional slider.
The XM’s suspension tuning is healthier, with the softest mode delivering a good experience regardless of the metal springs and gigantic wheels. The 48-volt lively anti-roll bars, which disconnect on straights, are doubtless a giant boon to the experience, and rear-axle steering permits preternatural agility at parking speeds. Put the dampers in Sport or Sport Plus mode, although, and the suspension goes all brittle, actually greater than is warranted for a car that posts a 0.92-g skidpad quantity with the accessible 22-inch Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer season rubber. It looks as if the confusion over the XM’s mission extends to BMW itself. The corporate in all probability would’ve been higher off embracing the rolling-lounge vibe and bolting in some soft air springs. And if that appears anathema to the M division ethos, so are throw pillows and a 6054-pound curb weight.
To make sense of the XM, you have to perceive that, regardless of its identify, it is not geared toward lovers. It is an artwork object with a decent gauze of efficiency, Damien Hirst does launch management. BMW nonetheless makes M automobiles that may rearrange your inner organs on a racetrack and maintain a low profile on the road, however this is not one in all them. Fortunately, this is not a zero-sum recreation—the manual-transmission M3 did not have to die in order that the XM may reside. So possibly let’s respect the dedication to aggressive weirdness that ends in a machine like this whereas concurrently hoping it does not symbolize a philosophical sea change. The world already has one Citroën, and that is in all probability sufficient.
2023 BMW XM
Car Sort: front-engine, front-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Examined: $159,995/$168,395
Choices: Bowers & Wilkins stereo, $3400; M Driver’s package deal, $2500; Silverstone and Classic Espresso leather-based inside, $2500
twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve 4.4-liter V-8, 483 hp, 479 lb-ft + AC motor, 194 hp, 207 lb-ft (mixed output: 644 hp, 590 lb-ft; 19.2-kWh lithium-ion; 7.4-kW onboard charger)
Transmission: 8-speed automated
Suspension, F/R: management arms/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 16.5-in vented disc/15.7-in vented disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4 PNCS
F: 275/40R-22 107Y I ★
R: 315/35R-22 111Y I ★
Wheelbase: 122.2 in
Size: 201.2 in
Width: 78.9 in
Top: 69.1 in
Passenger Quantity, F/R: 57/52 ft3
Cargo Quantity, Behind F/R: 64/19 ft3
Curb Weight: 6054 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 3.4 sec
100 mph: 8.2 sec
1/4-Mile: 11.7 sec @ 119 mph
160 mph: 25.4 sec
Outcomes above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Begin, 5–60 mph: 3.9 sec
High Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.6 sec
High Gear, 50–70 mph: 3.0 sec
High Velocity (mfr’s declare): 168 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 153 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 303 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.92 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Noticed: 16 MPGe
75-mph Freeway Driving, EV/Hybrid Mode: 49 MPGe/20 mpg
75-mph Freeway Vary, EV/Hybrid mode: 29/360 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Mixed/Metropolis/Freeway: 14/12/17 mpg
Mixed Gasoline + Electrical energy: 46 MPGe
EV Vary: 31 mi
Ezra Dyer is a Automotive and Driver senior editor and columnist. He is now primarily based in North Carolina however nonetheless remembers how you can flip proper. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and as soon as drove 206 mph. These details are mutually unique.