BMW Concept XM: 750-hp hybrid SUV portends most powerful M car ever

BMW is preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the M1 mid-engine sports car, but it’s going to do it with a crossover SUV.

On Monday, at Art Basel’s 2021 Miami Beach show, the BMW Concept XM was unveiled with a plug-in hybrid powertrain and eye-grabbing design. It’s a preview of the production XM planned for late 2022, which BMW says will be the only standalone M model built since the famed M1. BMW’s quick to point out the XM is set to be the most powerful M car to go into series production.

Set to serve as the flagship of BMW’s M division, for now, the Concept XM is powered by a twin-turbo V-8 engine (likely displacing 4.4 liters, but BMW didn’t get into specifics) mated to an electric motor for a combined output of 750 hp and 737 lb-ft of torque. A BMW M executive told Motor Authority the battery pack powering the electric motor is “over 20-kwh,” which should enable an electric-only range of up to 30 miles on the U.S. EPA cycle, though it hasn’t been officially rated yet.

The exterior of the Concept XM hasn’t met a hexagonal shape or hard line it didn’t like. Squint really hard and there are bits, though not many, of the M1 reimagined for modern crossover SUV times.

BMW Concept XM

BMW Concept XM

BMW Concept XM

BMW Concept XM

Massive, nearly octagonal, kidney grilles dominate the front end and are outlined by LED lighting. The daytime running lights flank the grille at the hood line, separate from the headlights hidden in the lower bumper behind tinted glass. A license plate recess is hidden behind that tinted glass in the center of the lower bumper, though BMW representatives admitted to MA this element is probably not legally feasible for production since a license plate can’t be hidden behind tinted glass. Slim off-road-like LED lights sit atop the blacked-out A-pillars, though BMW spokespeople wouldn’t comment whether these roof-mounted lights would see production status.

BMW Concept XM

BMW Concept XM

The rear marks the strongest link to the M1 with the raked roof peaking on both sides and a roundel prominently etched into the top corners of the tailgate glass. Slim LED taillights wrap from the gate to the flared rear fenders like a race track. When not lit, the lighting element is black, only turning red once the lights are on. M’s trademark quad-exhaust setup has been modified for a new era with a stacked vertical arrangement on both sides. Notably, the exhaust tips aren’t finishers, rather they are real exhaust tips that seemingly are metal. This new arrangement freed up space for the lower diffuser, according to a BMW M spokesperson.

The wheel wells are stuffed with 23-inch alloy wheels. A BMW spokesperson told MA the Concept XM rides on a shared platform with the X5, X6, and X7. BMW didn’t provide detailed specifications on the concept, but in person and standing next to it, the XM appears to be sized between the X5 and X7 despite only having two rows. That extra width and length pays massive dividends to the rear seat occupants.

BMW Concept XM

BMW Concept XM

BMW Concept XM

BMW Concept XM

BMW Concept XM

BMW Concept XM

BMW Concept XM

BMW Concept XM

Inside the dashboard is a mix of current and forthcoming BMW design and technology. A wall of screens sits atop the dashboard, seemingly plucked from the electric iX crossover SUV‘s parts bin. BMW’s current gear selector and some hard buttons for the climate control system are retained. While the Concept XM’s cockpit has seating for four, the vibe in the front and rear is vastly different. Up front, the sport seats and dashboard are covered in soft, supple brown leather while the rear seat and flooring is covered in diamond-quilted velvet and deep-pile carpeting for a lounge-like experience. The roof’s headliner features a three-dimensional prism-like design that is LED backlit for ambient cabin lighting. Sporty business up front and lounge party from the ’70s in the back.

The production XM will be manufactured alongside the X5, X6, X7 and other crossover SUVs at BMW’s Spartanburg plant in South Carolina.

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