From the July/August 2023 problem of Automobile and Driver.
Let’s faux the letter M would 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 will be a reasonably good title. With X, you have obtained some intrigue: X-Males, X-Recordsdata, X Video games. Whereas, for BMW, the letter M is freighted with expectation. While you see that rakish M flanked by tricolor stripes, you count on scalding efficiency, restrained however sporty styling, and visceral responses. You won’t 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 normal 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 model for the reason that authentic 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 Purple).
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 timber 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 computerized transmission. All informed, the XM musters 644 horsepower and 590 pound-feet.
That will 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 value 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’ve got just about run the desk on choices and arrived at our as-tested value of $168,395.
We’re guessing that for the XM’s meant viewers, that quantity is not stunning or dissuading—relatively extra like a monetary moat making certain 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 bit of sculpture you are not meant to know straight away or probably ever. Contemplate the textured headliner flanked by fiber-optic gentle guides and 100 LEDs: It is awash with softly pulsing blue gentle when the automotive is plugged in and sends the pink and blue hues of the M emblem streaking towards the again of the automotive on startup, a residing organism driving alongside above you. The blocky 3-D BMW emblem within the heart of the 23-inch wheels appears like some type 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 may 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 would not do refined.
Properly, 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 have obtained a 483-hp V-8 that is simply catching a experience. Rather more satisfying to push one of many pink M buttons on the steering wheel and cue all of the out there horsepower. In EV mode, 87 mph constitutes prime velocity. With the V-8 becoming a member of the occasion, 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 job in 11.5 seconds at 120 mph. And, must you 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” is just not one thing you wish to assume whereas helming a $160K BMW, however the XM suffers from the identical flummoxed drivetrain habits because the Jeep, as the 2 share an identical 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 increase or not, a moist clutch, an electrical motor with its personal gearing, after which an eight-speed computerized 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 methods. For 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 think about the ramifications of an upshift. Different instances, it might 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 energetic anti-roll bars, which disconnect on straights, are doubtless an enormous 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 automobile that posts a 0.92-g skidpad quantity with the out there 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 most likely would’ve been higher off embracing the rolling-lounge vibe and bolting in some comfortable 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 title, it isn’t aimed toward fans. It is an artwork object with a decent gauze of efficiency, Damien Hirst does launch management. BMW nonetheless makes M vehicles that can rearrange your inner organs on a racetrack and preserve a low profile on the road, however this is not one in every of them. Fortunately, this is not a zero-sum recreation—the manual-transmission M3 did not must die in order that the XM might stay. So possibly let’s recognize the dedication to aggressive weirdness that leads to a machine like this whereas concurrently hoping it would not signify a philosophical sea change. The world already has one Citroën, and that is most likely 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 computerized
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
Prime Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.6 sec
Prime Gear, 50–70 mph: 3.0 sec
Prime 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
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
Ezra Dyer is a Automobile and Driver senior editor and columnist. He is now primarily based in North Carolina however nonetheless remembers the right way to flip proper. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and as soon as drove 206 mph. These information are mutually unique.