When BMW decided to start offering SUVs, it first made sure that the new models would have the driving dynamics that made people buy their ‘ultimate driving machines’. Engineered to be true BMWs, their vehicles are instead called Sport Activity Vehicles or SAVs.
It’s the same for BMW M, the high-performance division, when it made the decision to electrify. For a company like BMW M, which has built up a reputation producing cars with superlative performance, going electric meant that they had also to be able to offer the same kind of performance.
The first BMW M automobile designed for purely electric mobility from the outset was the new iX M60, launched at the beginning of this year. But that was just a start and now the company has come out with another electrified model – the XM.
Second original BMW M model
Coming in the 50th year of the brand, this is the first BMW M original since the M1 and it is the largest, most powerful model ever offered. It is powered by a newly developed plug-in M HYBRID drive system (PHEV) with a newly developed, classically high-revving 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 working with a 280 Nm electric motor to give a system output of 653 bhp/800 Nm. In the fourth quarter of next year, a Label Red version will be added to the model range which will generate a total output of up to 748 bhp/1,000 Nm.
Power flows to all 4 wheels through an 8-speed M Steptronic transmission and the driver can choose one of 3 operating modes to optimise performance in specific conditions. This include an ELECTRIC setting for cruising with just the electric motor in use at speeds of up to 140 km/h; the range in this model would be up to 88 kms, it is claimed.
The V8 engine already gives an energy-charged soundtrack which originates from its sports exhaust system. This system features electronically-controlled, continuously adjustable flaps and hexagonal dual tailpipes arranged one above the other for the first time on a BMW M model.
Additionally, there is also BMW IconicSounds Electric. developed in a collaboration between the BMW Group and film score composer Hans Zimmer to create a suitable ‘backing track’ during the electric motor’s power delivery. M-specific electric drive sound provides authentic feedback to every movement of the accelerator pedal. If the Sport or Sport Plus setting is selected while in HYBRID mode, a boost sound will underline the electrical assistance being provided to the combustion engine.
Typical M design elements
The design of the XM was previewed last November with the Concept XM, so it’s not really a surprise. There are also the M-typical design cues, with the huge BMW kidney grille having gold-coloured surrounds and continuous contour lighting. Besides the headlights being split into two separate units, the large air intakes are also defining features of the front end.
The expressive style of the exterior design continues inside the cabin. The cockpit has a generous feeling of space, with high-quality materials and extravagant design transforming the rear of the XM into an exclusive M Lounge. The sculptural headliner is quite unique with its 3-dimensional prism structure, photo mount-style border and 100 LED units for illumination.
BMW Live Cockpit Professional is standard for the XM, which brings with it an M-specific version of the latest-generation multi-sensory vehicle experience BMW iDrive. Based on BMW Operating System 8, it comprises a BMW Curved Display formed by a 12.3-inch information display and a control display with a screen diagonal of 14.9 inches.
The new display grouping and the ever-expanding capabilities of the Intelligent Personal Assistant mean the new iDrive has been deliberately geared towards touch operation and gesture control as well as dialogue using natural language. The iDrive Controller and multifunction buttons on the steering wheel are additionally joined in the standard specification roster by the Head-Up Display and gesture control.
Tuned for dynamism and also comfort
Under the cabin, the chassis has been engineered for the widest possible spectrum between dynamism and long-distance comfort. The settings of the sophisticated active systems can be customised to meet demands on varying types of roads, from urban driving to country roads to motorways.
The chassis design comprises a double-wishbone front axle and a 5-link rear axle with specially tuned kinematic and elastokinematic properties. The XM comes with standard adaptive M suspension Professional that includes electronically-controlled dampers and active roll stabilisation with 48V electric motors and Active Roll Control. It is also the first BMW M model to feature Integral Active Steering, also part of standard specification.
To complement its exceptionally high performance is the largest selection of driver assistance systems offered – either as standard or as an option – for any high-performance vehicle from BMW M. Besides the standard Driving Assistant suite, customers can also add the Driving Assistant Professional with features such as Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go function, Steering and Lane Control Assistant, traffic light recognition, automatic Speed Limit Assist and Active Navigation.
Made in the USA
Production of the XM will start at the BMW factory in Spartanburg, USA, in December 2022, with first deliveries starting in early 2023 in key markets such as the USA, China and the Middle East. Although the Spartanburg factory’s first product was a 318i passenger car, the 30-year old facility has been mainly associated with the SAV X models, starting with the X5 in 1999. To date, 6 million vehicles have been built at the factory.