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BMW has lifted the lid on the most powerful M car to date, and it’s not a coupe or a sports sedan.
Developed by BMW’s performance-focused M division, the XM SUV is still at concept stage, but it will morph into a flagship production model from next year to be built at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina plant.
It is only the second standalone M model in the sub-brand’s history, following on from the iconic M1 from the late 1970s. Next year marks the M division’s 50th anniversary.
The powertrain includes BMW’s familiar 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine paired with a plug-in hybrid system that combined pumps out a whopping 550kW of power and 1000Nm of torque. It’s the first electrified powertrain from BMW M.
This blows all other performance SUVs currently on the market out of the water when it comes to pure outputs.
Other less powerful performance SUV rivals include the Audi RSQ8 (441kW/800Nm), Bentley Bentayga AWD Speed (467kW/900Nm), Lamborghini Urus (478kW/850Nm), Mercedes-AMG GLS63 (450kW/850Nm) and the V12-powered Rolls-Royce Cullinan (420kW/850Nm).
BMW has not yet revealed performance figures, but it’s a fair bet to assume it will beat the X5 M Competition’s zero to 100km/h time of 3.8 seconds.
The PHEV powertrain allows for 80km of all-electric driving, but fuel economy and emissions figures are also being held back for the reveal of the production model.
Design wise, the bold looking XM – also the name of a Citroen model from the 1990s –ushers in the new front-end design language for BMW’s luxury-class models, which includes higher-end fare like the 7 Series, 8 Series and X7.
A new iteration of the horizontal kidney grille is found up front, along with slimline headlights that will almost certainly change for the production version. Other design features include a sculpted bonnet, big front air intakes, black grille elements and a darkened lower apron that gives the grille a floating appearance.
The XM’s swept-up window line leads to the dramatically styled rear with vertical twin exhausts and slimline L-shaped tail-lights.
Inside, the XM features a large rectangular curved display screen housing instruments and the latest iDrive multimedia system. It also has vintage-look brown leather, carbon-fibre inserts, and copper elements, while the second seating row can be transformed into a luxurious lounge-like space with a contrasting ‘petrol’ colour scheme.
BMW is yet to confirm whether the XM will be built in right-hand drive configuration, but given the X7 – with which it shares a wheelbase – is built for right-hook markets at the Spartanburg plant, there is a good chance it will end up Down Under.
In any case, BWM Australia has its hand high in the air for the ultra-powerful SUV.
“The BMW M brand and BMW X range are highly significant to Australia – one in five BMWs sold here wear an M badge and BMW X vehicles represent more than 60 per cent of our total sales volume,” a BMW Australia spokesperson said.
“With that in mind, the BMW Concept XM has immediate appeal for our market. If the production model is made available to us, we will definitely offer it to our customers.”
Watch this space.