Most SUV reveals, even those of the performance variety, are ho-hum fare for those more interested in sports cars, hot hatches, and supercars. But, BMW’s latest might be the exception, because boy oh boy there’s a lot going on here.
The German firm has just unveiled its new XM Concept; a gargantuan SUV with a gargantuan set of grilles mated to its nose.
This shapes up as BMW’s first standalone M car creation since the M1 supercar of yesteryear. If this were a concept car in its purest form then this factoid wouldn’t matter much of course, but BMW says the XM will eventually make it to production in some way, shape, or form, with a production variant to be unveiled in about 12 months time.
The XM is also set to be the most powerful BMW M car ever created. It says the XM will get 750hp (560kW) and 999Nm of torque. Although BMW didn’t quote performance figures, it’s expected that the generously proportioned SUV is likely to knock over 100km/h in about three seconds.
Where that power comes from is another big XM talking point. While BMW didn’t harp on too much about the specifics during the XM’s reveal, it did confirm that the model’s powertrain comprises a V8 internal combustion engine and a plug-in hybrid system. The latter is said to be capable of generating 80km of range per charge.
What makes this significant is that several outlets are reporting that the XM is likely to represent the very end of the line for V8 BMWs, as the manufacturer prepares to cull eight-cylinder engines from its line-up and pivot towards electrification.
While BMW is perhaps better known for its straight six engines, it’s nevertheless produced some fabulous V8s, including the superb E39 M5, the screamo E90 M3, and more.
Back to the styling, and while the XM does look extremely … errr … ‘concept car chic’ in its appearance, don’t assume that the production version will tone all of these elements down. As it sits in these photos, the XM is relatively production ready (note the wing mirrors, flush door handles, and the hand-me-down gear shifter and switchgear in the cabin).
While the grille’s nostrils are huge, the headlights are positively teeny. The chiseled, blocky look continues all the way around the XM, ending with a pair of neatly shaped LED tail-lights that follow the same light signature as in other BMW products. It makes for a car that looks part robot, and part armoured vehicle.
The longer you look at the XM, the more you notice. Like the oddly shaped quad exhaust pipes, the shape of the rear windscreen, and the way that the outline of the grille doubles as a day-time running light (imagine that nose following you at night).
This is all before we get to the cabin, which follows a similar path to that of the fully electric iX. It too is rather zany, with its tsunami of brown leather aggressively mixed with quilted turquoise velvet and a sculpted red headliner. The dashboard features a textured panel formed out of carbon fibre and copper thread, and the touchscreen sports BMW’s latest iDrive system.
If this truly is the end of the BMW V8, then the XM is one heck of a final bang … whether you like that grille or not.