BMW XM First Drive Review: Monstrous Multitasking!

  • May 31, 2024
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The BMW XM offers super-SUV performance, a design that makes concept cars look sober and real-world pure EV range to manage much more than a short commute. But is it trying to do too much?

BMW XM

The BMW XM is a plug-in hybrid SUV developed by BMW’s performance vehicle division, BMW M. The XM combines a 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine with an electric motor, along with a 25.7kWh battery pack to deliver brisk performance along with the benefits of pure electric driving for regular use.

It is a 5-seater SUV that rivals the Porsche Cayenne, Audi RS Q8 and the significantly more expensive Lamborghini Urus

Exterior

BMW XM Exterior

German cars are typically associated with subtle designs that gradually evolve with time. However, new-age BMW designs are anything but subtle, and the BMW XM is a strong representation of that. While BMW’s large front grilles have made for great internet memes, the XM’s large grille with a bright LED outline fits right in on a styling package that’s trying to hide absolutely nothing.

BMW XM

The profile has hints of the BMW X5 in it, but the 22-inch wheels (23-inch optional) and sloped roofline, along with a contrast-painted trim piece on the shoulder-line make the XM look unmistakeable for anything else.

BMW XM

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The rear sports vertically stacked quad exhaust tips, bulbous tail lights that appear to be breaking out of the body panels, and a plus-sized rear windscreen. 

Right in the middle of this is the “///XM'' logo that’s offset towards the left tail light but no traditional BMW badge at the rear. Instead, the logo is laser-etched into the top corners of the windscreen; a throwback to the BMW M1. The reason? The XM is the second BMW M-only model, after the M1 itself.

The XM’s looks are certainly not for everyone. Evidently, the design brief was to go as outlandish as possible and if attention-grabbing design is what you’re going for, the XM will fit the bill perfectly. 

BMW XM

As evidenced during our drive, everyone who sees the car knows it’s something different and certainly something expensive. This nature is aided by the sheer size of the XM. At 5110 mm in length and sitting 2005 mm wide, it’s nearly as long as the 7-seater BMW X7 and is a little wider. The XM also has the same 3105 mm wheelbase as the X7, but is a 5-seater.

Interior

BMW XM Interior

Standout as the exterior is, the interior is perhaps an even more stark departure from typical BMW designs. All the controls and buttons will make existing BMW owners feel at home, but the unusual shape of the dashboard and choice of brown-blue interior transform the XM’s interior into a unique space. While this “Deep Lagoon” and brown interior is possibly the most unique combination for the XM’s interior, other options such as all black, Sakhir Orange and black and beige-brown are also available.

BMW XM Interior

Irrespective of what palette you choose, the interior feels rich and every touch point either has a premium metallic finish, is draped in vintage leather, nappa leather or velvet fabric. This fabric finds its way onto the roof that’s piped with the ambient lighting LEDs, with the roof itself featuring some herringbone patterns. Nope, no sunroof or glass roof of any kind here.

It’s in the rear seat that BMW has tried to deliver the lounge experience and especially at night it truly delivers. The styling of the seat, patterns on the roof, and the ambient lighting come together to deliver an experience that is, if nothing else, very unique to the XM.

Space

BMW XM Seats

First, the seats are generously sized and even those with a hefty build will like the support available. The rear seat is especially wide and very supportive and while it is unusual to have an M car with the rear seat as its focus, it does show.

Even users over 6ft in height will have adequate space to stretch out and the seat cushioning makes the XM’s cabin a great place to relax. In fact, seating 3 at the rear will also be quite comfortable as there is enough width available while the rear seat itself has been pulled all the way into the doors.

That being said, rear passengers don’t get entertainment screens or infotainment controls. Integrated into the front seats are type-C USB chargers and slots to mount tablet holders which BMW offers as official accessories. Also missing are rear sunblinds.

Boot Space

The XM offers just under 530 litres of boot space; enough to fit in full-sized suitcases. The loading lip itself is flat which makes it easy to put luggage in but you will need to be a little careful while using the boot on an incline. There is no spare tyre offered and if it were, it would use up the boot itself as there is no storage space underneath the floor.

Features

Highlights

4-zone climate control

Power-adjustable front seats with 2 memory settings

Motorised steering adjustment

Heated and ventilated front seats

Massaged front seats

Wireless phone charger

Ambient lighting

Head-up display

Powered-tailgate

20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins music system

 

The infotainment display package includes BMW’s curved cockpit display, comprising a 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster and 14.9-inch touchscreen. Both screens come loaded with information that can get overwhelming at first glance but it’s straightforward once you spend a day using it. The resolution is top-notch and the experience with BMW’s iDrive 8 operating system is lag-free. While the central screen can be touch-operated, on the move you will probably find the dial control to be far more intuitive to use.

Besides supporting wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the screen also hosts the climate control interface which is annoying to use while driving. While the massaged seats get a dedicated button on the door pads (massage programs controlled through the touchscreen), the seat ventilation and heating are operated through the climate control screen. 

While the temperature display is permanently displayed on the bottom of the touchscreen, accessing the blower speed control is a two-step process and they’d be better as physical buttons.

 

Much like we’ve seen with other new-age BMWs, the XM also gets the in-built drive recorder application, which uses the high-resolution 360-degree camera like a dashcam allowing you to store up to 1 minute of footage (at a time) should you need it in any event. 

Safety

Highlights

Lane keep assist

Lane departure warning

Front and rear parking sensors

360-degree camera with in-built recording capability

Collision warning

Auto-emergency braking

8 airbags

Adaptive cruise control

Performance

BMW XM

The BMW XM comes powered by a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive. This works in conjunction with an electric motor to deliver a combined peak power output of 653 PS and 800 Nm, enabling a claimed 0-100kmph time of 4.3 seconds. Completing the plug–in hybrid package is a 25.7kWh battery^ that by itself delivers a WLTP*-rated pure-electric driving range of 82-88 km while the WLTP*-rated fuel-efficiency stands at 61.9 kmpl.

(*Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure)

(^Battery does not support DC fast charging. It can accept up to 7.4kW AC charging which takes approximately 3-3.5 hours for a 1-100% charge)

BMW XM

The XM can be driven in:

  • Hybrid mode to maximise range (with the drivetrain set to Comfort mode)

  • Electric mode to drive only using the electric motor (until the battery depletes or hard throttle inputs are given, which will activate the combustion engine)

  • eControl mode that preserves the battery’s charge as much as possible. 

From behind the wheel, while you are very aware of the XM’s large size, its steering isn’t too heavy to operate in city traffic. With the drive settings in comfort, the power delivery is smooth and the XM sticks to EV mode at low speeds.

BMW XM

But it doesn’t take much to get the XM moving fast. Despite its heavy weight (nearly 2.8 tonnes), getting up to 100 kmph is managed with a feather touch on the throttle. The transmission offers smooth gear changes as well, making the XM a pleasant car to drive in city or intercity. 

In fact, with the battery charged to 100 percent, we drove the XM from Pune to Mumbai with about 15km worth of charge to spare. The downhill drive rarely warranted the petrol engine’s use and the regenerative braking aided the overall efficiency, with a displayed efficiency of 99.5kmpl at the end of a 118km drive! 

BMW XM

However, in hybrid mode with the drivetrain in comfort (the most range optimised setting), the powertrain prioritises using electric power as far as possible. Once the battery gets used up, the engine reminds you it’s a performance V8 and the efficiency numbers dip quickly. The 8-speed transmission helps it sit at relaxed revs on the highway and with an average speed of 65 kmph, we managed an overall fuel efficiency of 17.50 kmpl over a 213 km journey! (electric + petrol drive).

BMW XM

Drive it spiritedly through and the transition between the electric motor and petrol V8 engine feels a little jerky. Leaving the drivetrain in Sport or Sport Plus helps sharpen response times a little, but the switch in drive source is apparent. That aside, though, the XM will impress you with just how fast it is and make you laugh at the absurd realisation that it’s a near 3-tonne SUV that’s rocketing its way ahead. In that sense, the XM does an excellent job of being a peaceful daily driven SUV when you’re looking for a relaxed commute and the opposite side of this split personality is the savagery you can access by just going an inch or two deeper into the accelerator.

Even the 8-speed transmission puts the power down in a clean manner and offers smooth gear changes whether you drive it in a relaxed manner or enthusiastically. Like in other BMW M cars, it also comes with Drive Logic which allows you to choose from three levels of shift intensity. These levels deliver either relaxed gear changes for a smooth drive experience (L1) or rapid shifts that improve responsiveness and support aggressive driving but make gear changes more apparent (L3).

That being said, you can tell how the heavy weight of the plug-in hybrid powertrain snatches some of the initial aggression you expect from a performance SUV. Considering the acceleration some relatively affordable electric vehicles are capable of today, more experienced drivers may find themselves wishing for just a bit more drama off the line. 

BMW XM Exhaust

The exhaust note is pleasant but as is the case with most performance cars today, a lot of the sound is artificially generated from the speakers and legal regulations also keep it from sounding too loud from the outside.

BMW has strapped the XM with good brakes that feel communicative and do a great job of slowing down this behemoth confidently.

Ride & Handling

The XM does not get air suspension but gets adaptive dampers to tailor your ride better for the surface you’re on. However, even in comfort mode, the ride is on the stiffer side and you will constantly be aware of changes in the road below. While the interiors are better than those of some purpose-built luxury SUVs, the ride quality is similar to any sports sedan, just with the benefit of ground clearance (220 mm) for a little more peace of mind.

Handling is another aspect where the XM surprises you, especially considering how heavy it is. The steering feels involving and direct to use even in Comfort mode and while you are aware of the XM’s size and heft through corners, the driving dynamics are thoroughly involving and sharp. 

Standalone, the XM does plenty to make you smile and get you excited. It’s when you drive sportier alternatives like the Porsche Cayenne or the Audi RS Q8 that you realise how the plug-in hybrid powertrain’s added weight keeps the XM from handling the way the flagship BMW M car should and how much more agile it’d feel.

Verdict

The BMW XM is heavy on the wow factor by virtue of its performance, design and interior experience. The plug-in hybrid drivetrain enables a dual personality of efficient daily driving and brisk performance as soon as you want it. Not only does it have performance figures to match the likes of the Lamborghini Urus, it has a design that will, one way or another, grab attention in equal measure, while doing so at nearly half the asking price!

BMW XM

The core issue is defining who exactly BMW is targeting with the XM. The interior is luxury car opulent but the ride comfort isn’t, the design makes a statement but not one that everyone will agree with and while the performance and handling are befitting that of a BMW M car, it’s not exceptional for what’s supposed to be the flagship. In fact, lighter, less powerful, and more affordable BMW M cars like the X5M are quicker and sharper to drive.

Overall, the XM is an unusual blend of selling points that will make sense to a specific few takers, but what they’ll get is certainly exceptional if not perfect.

BMW XM
BMW XM
Rs. 2.60 Crore
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