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BMW XM 2023 review

There’s nothing subtle about the way the XM looks.

BMW’s new XM is a tricky customer to pigeon-hole. Yes, it’s a huge, super-lux SUV and, yes, it’s all-wheel drive and features a station-wagon layout.

But it’s also a M-car and that infers super high performance. Weighing in one the wrong side of 2700kg, however, makes that a difficult task for any engineer.

This car also left us wondering if perhaps the glory days of M Division sports cars and coupes might behind it and SUVs like this one represent the road ahead.

But fear not: The CEO of M Division himself, assured us that the XM is a showcase for what an M badge can do, rather than a mission statement for the brand.

So, with that in mind, does this car have the wow factor that places it somewhere between peak oligarch and a motor-show concept car? Does it move the goal posts for big luxury SUVs? Does it even matter that it’s a plug-in hybrid?

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Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The XM is one of those 'no options' vehicles. That is, you pay the basic price, you get one with the lot. The aged leather and even the optional 23-inch wheels and tyres are no-cost options, so it’s clear where BMW is aiming the thing.

As well as the plug-in driveline, all-wheel drive and all the M driving focus, the XM features plenty of tech including massaging front seats, heated seats all around, a high-end stereo, heated and cooled cupholders, four-zone climate-control, wireless phone charging and twin, curved info screens for the driver measuring 12.3 and 14.9 inches. The novel roof lining also features 100 pin-point LEDs for effect.

XM features plenty of tech including curved info screens for the driver measuring 12.3 and 14.9 inches. XM features plenty of tech including curved info screens for the driver measuring 12.3 and 14.9 inches.

The cost of such detailing is a not insubstantial $302,200. That figure does, however, undercut two of its main rivals, the Lamborghini Urus ($395,888) and the Aston Martin DBX ($356,512).

It’s also worth mentioning that the XM is not even BMW Australia’s most expensive model; in fact, it’s fourth on the ladder.

Design - Is there anything interesting about its design?

There’s nothing subtle about the way the XM looks. It probably pulls up just short of brutalist (or maybe not) but even those who find its slabs and angles attractive have to admit that it’s bold.

The now-trademark giant nostrils set the mood and the rest of the exterior suggests some kind of armoured transport for presidents rather than wheels for the school run. Doubtless, this will hardly be seen as a fault by those in the market for such a thing.

The real surprise here is that the XM does not share a bodyshell with any other production BMW. The real surprise here is that the XM does not share a bodyshell with any other production BMW.

The real surprise here is that the XM does not share a bodyshell with any other production BMW. Sure, the V8 petrol engine and wheelbase are common to other BMW and M models, but the sheet metal is the XM’s and the XM’s alone. That in itself, is quite a statement of intent.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

Given the vast exterior dimensions and a weighbridge ticket the wrong side of 2700kg, it may come as a surprise to learn that the XM is strictly a five-seater with not even an optional third row.

That said, the uber-SUV Lexus LX in flagship, Ultra Luxury, trim offers just four seats in deference to the VIP clientele it’s pitched at, but also comes complete with reclining rear seats and a passenger’s side footrest which the XM can’t match.

Staying in the rear seat, there’s lots of legroom and plenty of space under the front chairs for feet. A lot of that is down to the wheelbase the XM shares with the BMW X7, and even behind a tall driver, there’s lots of space. In fact, compared with a BMW X5, there’s a full 150mm of extra legroom.

  • 2023 BMW XM I Interior 2023 BMW XM I Interior
  • 2023 BMW XM I Interior 2023 BMW XM I Interior
  • 2023 BMW XM I Interior 2023 BMW XM I Interior

The pew itself flows into the door trims for a lounge effect which looks great with the contrasting light-coloured trim, and the centre arm-rest folds down to reveal a pair of cupholders. Extra storage space can be found in fold-out pockets in the rear of each front seat which also house a small, lidded panel that opens to reveal USB ports and power sockets. Dual-zone climate controls are also part of the rear-seat experience.

The gee-whizz stuff hasn’t been ignored, either, and the prismatic roof lining is nothing if not a talking point. But would a panoramic sunroof have been of more value to many buyers? The ambient lighting is a nice touch, too.

Up front, the view is dominated by the giant, twin curved animated dashboards. They deliver information and lots of it, to the point where it can almost seem a bit overwhelming.

The head-up display helps simplify things, but there’s absolutely no doubt there’s a lot going on in this cabin. Again, this is modern luxury motoring, but it remains that the menu system will take time to learn, even if the touchscreen function gives you an option on how you control things.

  • 2023 BMW XM I Boots 2023 BMW XM I Boots
  • 2023 BMW XM I Boots 2023 BMW XM I Boots

Multi-adjustable front seats are part of the deal and there’s an M-spec steering wheel which is heated. And although it features plenty of buttons, isn’t as daunting perhaps as the multi-spoked equivalent in some high-end AMGs of late.

The stereo system is also worthy of a mention, being a Bowers & Wilkins unit with roof mounted speakers and no less than 1500 watts of power. Digital radio is part of the package.

Even though it doesn’t offer a seven-seat option, luggage space in the rear of the XM is hardly class-leading. Cargo volume with rear seat up is 527L and 1820L with it folded.

Much of the wheelbase is devoted to rear-seat stretching room and although the batteries for the electric motor are positioned under the rear seat, the floor of the cargo area seems quite high.

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine/motor?

Here’s where the XM starts to justify its price-tag. While the use of an electric motor to boost a petrol engine has allowed some manufacturers to reduce the capacity of the latter, no such restraint has been shown for the XM. Instead, it gets the full 4.4-litre, twice turbocharged V8 that we’ve come to know and love from this brand.

It’s not that this is the engine’s first date with hybrid technology, but the mild hybrids that have come before it can’t match the XM for sheer brutality when both power units are unleashed.

The petrol V8 can muster up 360kW and 650Nm which, when boosted by the electric motor, jumps to a total of 480kW (combined) and 800Nm.

While the petrol engine drives through an eight-speed torque-converter automatic, the electric motor also drives through the transmission, an arrangement that is a bit different to some hybrids which use the petrol engine for the rear axle and the electric motor to drive the front wheels.

Of course, the requirement for the XM to feature permanent all-wheel drive, regardless of what power unit is running at the time, forces this layout.

The petrol V8 can muster up 360kW and 650Nm which, when boosted by the electric motor, jumps to a total of 480kW (combined) and 800Nm. The petrol V8 can muster up 360kW and 650Nm which, when boosted by the electric motor, jumps to a total of 480kW (combined) and 800Nm.

Speaking of all-wheel drive, The XM’s version of BMW’s 'xDrive' layout has been specifically tuned for this vehicle and includes torque vectoring as well as a limited-slip rear differential.

The system has the ability to vary the torque split front to rear, with the default rear-bias giving a more sporting feel on good surfaces. An active rear differential also helps give the car a rear-drive feel.

As well as modes for 'Hybrid', 'Electric' and 'eControl' modes, the XM sticks with the M tradition of offering two M buttons which can be configured to set the parameters for steering, driveline, chassis and, in the case of the hybrid XM, the degree of braking regeneration offered.

Four-wheel steering is also part of the XM’s repertoire and, interestingly, there’s no air suspension here; just conventional steel springs.

But it does feature an electrically-adjusted anti-roll bar system which aims to strike a happy medium between what the driver wants and the road conditions demand.

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range? What is its charging time?

A 25.7kWh lithium-ion battery provides the power for the electric drive. It’s mounted under the rear seat and can produce a purely electric range of between 82 and 88km (based on WLPT test protocols).

Charge time from a conventional wall-box is said to be about four hours but, interestingly, the XM has no provision for DC fast-charging.

Fuel consumption (combined cycle) is an EV-typical 2.7 litres per 100km, which equates to a low 61g/km of CO2.

A 25.7kWh lithium-ion battery provides the power for the electric drive. A 25.7kWh lithium-ion battery provides the power for the electric drive.

Once you’ve depleted the battery on a highway journey, expect the petrol V8 to consumer somewhere between eight and nine litres per 100km at cruising speed.

Using EV mode means zero-emission operation but, as with any electric car, how the power is generated to recharge it determines its real-world green-ness.

Driving – What's it like to drive?

While any M car is supposed to be rapid and dynamic, it’s also true that the over-arching perception of big SUVs is that they’re comfortable and plush. None of which explains the ride in the XM.

Regardless of how you fiddle with the settings, the ride is always brittle. Those big tyres with their minimal sidewall somehow manage to find every crack and join in the road, and it’s these sharp-edged imperfections that thump through to the cabin the most vocally.

It’s enough to make you wonder who this car is going to appeal to. Will it take to race tracks? Almost certainly not. So the whole point of these suspension settings might be a bit lost on some people.

Performance, meanwhile, is insanely rapid for something that could pass as a bulk carrier. The biggest giveaway to the mass is the transmission’s earnest attempts to keep everything moving by feeling a bit hyperactive on downshifts.

Steering effort is light but there’s not a lot of feedback in terms of actual feel. Steering effort is light but there’s not a lot of feedback in terms of actual feel.

Using the ratios is always going to be the strategy, but with all that torque, maybe it’d be nice sometimes for the trans to hang on to a taller gear and let the boost blow it towards the next corner.

The sound track? Polarising. Even if it doesn’t convince you that Hans Zimmer (who developed the various electronically-synthesised noises the XM makes) should stick to winning Oscars, the augmented sounds are background noise rather than the main event here.

Even the petrol V8’s naturally stirring backing vocals have been electronically tweaked with debatable results.

 The rear steering seems to come in a few milli-seconds after the front has started to turn. The rear steering seems to come in a few milli-seconds after the front has started to turn.

That said, it’s nice to have something to listen to that isn’t the insistent tyre roar which becomes even louder on coarse-chip surfaces.

Steering effort is light but there’s not a lot of feedback in terms of actual feel. In fact, it’s borderline detached and only the sheer speed of the rack confers any athleticism.

Also, the rear steering seems to come in a few milli-seconds after the front has started to turn. And for all that all-wheel-steering agility, this is never a car that shrinks around you.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

As well as the usual passive safety features, the XM also hides the latest active safety gear. In fact, BMW reckons the XM has more driver assistance than any other M car before it.

Those elements start with the 'Driver Assistant Professional' which bundles active cruise-control with stop-go ability, steering and lane-keeping control, automatic speed limit assist and active navigation.

BMW’s 'ConnectedDrive' includes an emergency call function in the event of a crash or other emergency. BMW’s 'ConnectedDrive' includes an emergency call function in the event of a crash or other emergency.

Parking assistance is also featured which incorporates a reversing assistance function, front, rear and panoramic camera views with a 3D view built in.

BMW’s 'ConnectedDrive' includes an emergency call function in the event of a crash or other emergency.

No ANCAP assessment so far.

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

Like a lot of manufacturers, BMW knows consumers can be leery of EV tech when it comes to the cost of battery replacement. So, as well as the five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty on the whole vehicle, there’s also eight years or 160,000km of cover for the high-voltage battery.

Servicing intervals are based on how the car has been used and it will inform the owner when a service is required.

A servicing package is included in the purchase price and BMW even throws in three years of roadside assistance.


The Wrap

It’s pretty obvious the XM is designed to impress people with big wallets and an appetite for a techy experience that’s also not without a few green credentials. The ability to motor around as a fully-electric vehicle for up to 80km or so is a big plus and the electric-ballroom interior vibe is hard to ignore, as well.

But from our perspective, the full-fat, twin-turbo V8, while offering startling performance, is perhaps a lost opportunity to follow some of BMW’s competitors into the engine-downsizing space. Then again, when you floor the throttle and 2700kg hurtles forward like a big dog on a short chain, you can see where BMW is coming from.

Perhaps the biggest letdown is the ride quality – or lack of it. While it’s understandable BMW wanted the most dynamic version of the XM it could manage, the end result plays against the vehicle’s otherwise long suit of hyper-luxury. Doubtless, BMW would argue that to soften the chassis would have been to introduce a chink into a no-compromise product. But, perhaps, sometimes a sensible compromise is the way forward.

Likes

Incredible performance
Electric-only mode
High end accommodation

Dislikes

Harsh ride
Tyre noise
Augmented soundtrack

Scores

David:

3

The Kids:

4

$289,900 - $309,900

Based on 3 car listings in the last 6 months

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