There have been a lot of controversial BMW designs in the past couple decades. The brand essentially invented the crossover coupe genre with the X6, the electrified i3 and i8 looked like sci-fi props and of course there are the gigantic grilles on recent models like the 4 Series and M3. But on Monday at Art Basel in Miami, BMW revealed what will quite possibly be its most controversial car ever: the Concept XM.
This massive SUV previews a production model coming next year that will be only the second stand-alone M-only car in BMW's history, with the first being the M1 supercar that debuted in 1978. It's essentially a "coupe" version of the X7, and the XM will only be offered with a plug-in-hybrid powertrain, a first for the M brand. While some people speculated this model might be called X8, BMW says XM is the final name that the production car will wear -- apparently BMW has an informal agreement with Citroën that allows both brands to use the XM name, as long as the applications are different.
Before I get into the absolutely wild styling let's talk about the powertrain. The Concept XM uses the same twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 engine that's in other M models like the M5 and X5 M, but it's fitted with a high-powered electric motor and a battery pack of unknown size. Total output is 750 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque, 133 hp and 184 lb-ft more than the X6 M Competition, and BMW is aiming for an EV range of 30 miles on the EPA cycle. These aren't just concept numbers, either -- this is exactly the powertrain the production XM will use, and it won't be offered with a nonhybrid setup.
As amazing as the powertrain sounds, what everyone will really be talking about is the XM's styling. The XM is based on the huge three-row X7, but it has a lower roofline similar to that of the Lamborghini Urus and only has two rows of seats. I wouldn't necessarily call it a coupe as the rear hatch is still fairly upright, but it definitely has a sportier and sleeker profile and more interesting proportions. To give a bit of a sense of scale the wheels are 23 inches, and even then they look a little small from certain angles. There's not a lot of tumblehome to the greenhouse, but the flared fenders make the XM look lower and wider.
The upper half of the Concept XM is painted in a matte light gold while the lower half is Space Grey, and the sides of the car have a black band that flows into the window trim and helps separate the colors. The black band also houses the door handles, and there's a ton of carbon-fiber trim covering elements like the lower bumpers and fender flares. The side surfacing is all pretty wild and the wheel arches are Countach-esque in shape, while the self-leveling wheel center caps ditch the traditional roundel for BMW written out in 3D block letters in front of a minimal version of BMW's propellor logo.
The XM debuts BMW's new face that will feature on most of its upcoming models, and it reminds me of an angry dinosaur in a good way. The headlights are now split into two modules, with superslim LED running lights high up on the front end and the main headlights hidden behind tinted glass lower down in the bumper. It's a pretty cool look that's especially striking when the main lights are off, and the front license plate is also enclosed behind the glass. The XM's kidney grilles are huge, but I think they actually work. The outline of the kidneys is illuminated and there are horizontal slats like on the M3 and M4, and the XM also has a dual power dome-style hood.
Move around to the XM's rear end and things really get wild. Probably its most controversial design element will be the flush rear glass, which is shaped like the M1's rear end and features a pair of BMW logos etched into the glass itself at each corner, echoing the M1's roundel placement. The shape of the glass also dictates the surfacing on the roof, The thin taillights extend far onto the rear quarter panels and are highly visible from the side view, and the XM badge on the hatch aligns with the angle of the lights. There's a pair of vertically stacked hexagonal exhaust tips at each side of the diffuser, and the production XM will feature the same design.
If you love clashing patterns and textiles you'll love the Concept XM's interior. Nearly every surface in the front half of the cabin is covered in brown leather that looks distressed and vintage, while the sculpted rear bench seat is a combination of leather and quilted velvet in a teal color called Petrol. The dashboard and center console features textured carbon-fiber trim with copper thread woven into it, and there are a lot of aluminum accents. I really like the cockpit's air vents that are integrated into the doors, and the center vents are shaped like the M brand's slash logo and contain climate controls inside the center unit.
As with recent BMW models like the i4 and iX, the XM features a curved display atop the dash that includes the digital gauge cluster and central touchscreen. The infotainment system has new M-specific designs and features that will come to other production models, and, seats aside, the design of the cabin in general isn't too far-fetched. One of the coolest features is the headliner: Instead of having a large panoramic glass roof, the Concept XM has a geometric 3D headliner with integrated ambient lighting.
Obviously there's a lot of concept car frippery, but what you see here is very close to what the production XM will look like -- think around 90% there. Don't expect the two-tone paint to remain, and some of the surfacing and detailing will be a little toned down, but otherwise pretty much every design element should make it to production -- including the awesome rear glass. And (again, seats aside) the interior design should be nearly identical to the concept, though BMW sadly confirmed the teal velvet won't be available for purchase.
Production of the XM will commence in late 2022 at BMW's factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where all other BMW SUVs save for the X1 and X2 are built. The brand won't say anything about price, but with the X7 M50i starting at $100,795 and the X6 M Competition opening at $119,695, expect the XM to carry a base price of close to $200,000.