(Phoenix, Arizona) The new BMW XM belongs to this category of vehicles whose door is closed with mixed feelings. A character utility, fast and frankly luxurious, but which leaves you in perplexity.
To understand the XM, a historical reminder is necessary. It was created by M, the group’s sports subsidiary. For 50 years, all other “M”, with the exception of the M1 (produced between 1978 and 1982), derive from existing production models.
Although it originated in BMW’s American facilities in North Carolina alongside the X5, X6 and X7, the XM has a unique cachet and advances that, for the time being, are just as much. These are, in part, arguments to justify its price ($220,000) which positions it against brands that are often even more prestigious (Bentley, Lamborghini, Aston Martin).
You should also know that “M” stands apart within the large BMW family. Canada, which is one of its most flourishing markets, is particularly fond of these models with excessive performance. “We can’t always explain why, confesses Jean-François Taylor, communication manager at BMW, but our M products recruit a very specific clientele. Whoever dares (that’s the word) to acquire an XM will be no different.
We were expecting a sports coupe (2019 Vision M Concept study), but M management preferred not to upset the dominant norms. It therefore gave birth to an SUV… This one is dressed in a monolithic bodywork that immediately polarizes the attention. One more time. Once too many will scoff at some who will not miss any opportunity to highlight the unusual color arrangements of his palette. The tomato red and golden ornaments illustrate our point perfectly. Chinese consumers will love it. The rest of the world ? Less sure.
No doubt in the hope of recovering some of the customers frightened by the exterior style, the interior of the XM is entitled to a more conventional decoration. Nobody will really feel out of place, but everyone will admire the exquisite quality of the materials and the assemblies above all suspicion. The passengers are particularly well treated, the width at the elbows is appreciable at the front as at the rear, where three adults fit without too much packing. And the volume of the trunk appears more than satisfactory, but the height of the threshold makes handling more exhausting. Need more space, the XM agrees to tow a load of up to 2700 kilograms.
But beyond the colors and shapes, we are especially surprised by the four exhaust outlets integrated into its diffuser. The XM is not a pure electric juice, but rather a plug-in hybrid. Sarah Lessman, responsible for its development, explains. “Our strategy here aims to support our customers towards greener energies without disrupting them while playing a pioneering role in the segment where XM is called upon to evolve. None of our direct competitors are currently offering anything other than internal combustion engines,” she points out.
This gradual electrification approach suits the brand’s philosophy well. In an interview he granted us a year ago, Pieter Nota, member of the board of directors of BMW AG, proclaimed that “the petrol engine is not dead at BMW”. The latter believes that the threats to ban this motorization are not realistic. “Soon, very soon, governments will come to the conclusion that this goal of 2030, 2035 is unattainable. »
Reprieve to 8 cylinders
By electrifying its 4.4-litre V8 for the first time, BMW not only meets current standards, but also reassures its traditional buyers. This engine, developed in parallel for competition (IMSA and WEC), delivers 653 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. BMW announces a 0-100 km/h in 4.3 seconds, but is careful not to remember that an X6 M (thermal) and an iX M60 (electric) accelerate faster and they also cost much less… That’s probably which explains the imminent arrival of a Label Red version of 738 horsepower to silence the critics. But one question remains: at what cost?
Until then, the XM still promises to travel some 50 kilometers without noise or smoke and to be able to fully recharge its 25.7 kWh battery in just over 4 hours. Depending on the mode engaged, the system favors sobriety or performance. We can easily guess that traditional M buyers have already made their choice.