More from Motoring

Photos By Kartik Gilatar

The arrival of the BMW XM marks a turning point for the iconic M division. Unlike its predecessors, the XM isn’t a modified version of an existing BMW SUV. This is a ground-up creation, a bold statement from M that they’re redefining the high-performance SUV landscape.

This move resonates with the M division’s rich history of producing legendary driver’s cars. Remember that epic showdown in a British magazine where an E60 M5 with its sonorous V10 engine went head-to head with a Ferrari F430 V8? The M5 offered a staggering combination of practicality and exhilarating performance, all at a fraction of the Ferrari’s price tag. That’s the essence of M — creating cars that deliver supercar-like thrills without the supercar price tag.

Previously, M vehicles relied on existing BMW models as a springboard. Think of the X5 M Competition. BMW starts with a capable X5, and then the M division injects its magic touch. The result? It is a ferocious beast with a power packed engine, a meticulously tuned suspension that devours corners, and a symphony of M-specific enhancements that elevate the driving experience.

Red M buttons on the steering wheel echo sportiness

The arrival of the XM signifies a new chapter for M. It’s a testament to their relentless pursuit of innovation and a commitment to building standalone M machines that redefine expectations. This flagship SUV promises to be more than just a powerful and luxurious people mover; it’s a culmination of M’s legacy, infused with the audacity to break the mould and create a performance SUV unlike any other.

The BMW XM throws down the gauntlet with its design, a radical departure from anything the brand has done before. This isn’t just a new engine in an existing shell; it’s a whole new platform that allows for a truly audacious aesthetic. Boldness is the XM’s middle name, evident from the very first glance.

Ditch the sunroof, embrace the 3D sculpted roof

The front is dominated by the massive illuminated kidney grille, dubbed the ‘Iconic Glow.’ Some might describe it as flared nostrils, while others might playfully liken it to Peppa Pig’s snout. Regardless of your interpretation, it’s undeniable that this grille demands attention. The headlights, sleek and narrow, are almost overshadowed by the sheer scale of the grille, adding to the car’s imposing presence.

Moving to the side profile, the sheer length of the XM becomes apparent. A strong character line with a black band emphasises the car’s muscularity, while subtle gold accents with the ‘XM’ logo add a touch of drama. The massive 22-inch wheels, with an option for even larger 23-inch rims, further enhance e the XM’s concept car-like stance.

The rear is another exercise in sculpted design with some interesting choices. The BMW badge is prominently displayed in the centre of the tailgate, but a closer look reveals two additional BMW logos etched into the top corners of the rear glass. This is a nod to the legendary BMW M1, a classic sports car that also sported dual rear logos.

The XM’s lounge-like interior makes every you feel cocooned in luxury

In an era where many manufacturers play it safe with car designs, the XM is a refreshing breath of air. BMW’s bold gamble might be polarising, but it undeniably keeps us talking and sparks conversation. With the exterior explored, let’s now delve into the XM’s cabin and see what surprises await us inside.

Inside the XM’s cabin, a sense of familiarity greets you — elements from other BMW models are present but with a distinct twist. The most striking feature is undoubtedly the sculpted roof liner. Gone is the traditional panoramic sunroof; instead, the XM boasts a geometric 3D design bathed in ambient lighting, creating a luxurious and lounge-like atmosphere.

The driver is presented with a high-tech cockpit featuring a familiar 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with M-specific layouts for vital information. A massive 14.9-inch touch screen infotainment system reigns supreme on the centre console, offering intuitive control through both the touch screen itself and the traditional iDrive controller.

The front seats are a perfect blend of comfort and support. They hug you in during spirited driving but remain plush and inviting for long journeys. A subtle reminder of the car’s performance DNA comes in the form of illuminated ‘M’ logos embedded in the seats. The textured dashboard provides a satisfying tactile experience, while the overall colour scheme and premium materials would make a luxury handbag brand proud.

20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system

Moving to the rear, the XM pampers passengers with what feels more like a luxurious wrap-around sofa from a boutique hotel than a car seat. Ample legroom ensures a comfortable journey and felt lined door storage compartments contribute to the sense of being cocooned in opulence. There’s a subtle nod to the XM’s sporty nature, however — the front seats maintain a focus on driver engagement.

The highlight for enthusiasts is undoubtedly the steering wheel. Two striking red buttons labelled M1 and M2 allow for the customisation of performance modes to suit driver preference. These buttons are flanked by a pair of carbon fibre paddle shifters, their texture immediately apparent to the touch, a tactile reminder of the performance lurking beneath the XM’s luxurious facade.

Plug-in hybrid gives you a jaw-dropping 61.9 kpl

Now let’s delve into the heart of the beast — the XM’s powertrain. Under the hood lies a 4.4-litre V8 gasoline engine, a powerhouse generating 489 bhp on its own. But that’s not all. This formidable engine is paired with a 197 bhp electric motor cleverly nestled within the 8-speed torque converter housing. The combined result? A staggering 653 horsepower and a gut-wrenching 81.57 kgm of peak torque.

While the numbers look mighty impressive on paper, it’s important to remember that the XM is a hefty beast, tipping the scales at around 2.7 tonnes. Despite its weight, the XM delivers a thrilling driving experience. Push the throttle and you’ll be rewarded with effortless acceleration, reaching triple-digit speeds with alarming ease. The combination of electric assist and all-wheel drive propels the XM from 0 to 100 kph in a mere 4.3 seconds, a testament to its hidden athleticism.

However, the aural experience might not be what traditional V8 enthusiasts expect. The engine sound you hear in the cabin is a result of clever audio trickery — carefully crafted engine noise piped in to enhance the driving experience. BMW even collaborated with the legendary Hans Zimmer to create unique sounds specific to the XM, like a pulsating start-up sequence. To truly hear the unadulterated V8 growl, you’ll need to push the car to higher RPMs. This setup might leave those yearning for the classic V8 rumble wanting a bit more, but it represents a necessary step towards a more fuel-efficient future.

Despite its hefty curb weight, the XM defies expectations when it comes to handling. The steering is sharp and communicative, allowing the driver to feel connected and in control even during spirited driving. Push the XM to its limits, and it exhibits an agility that belies its size, reminiscent of the dynamic prowess associated with M cars. Selecting the M1 or M2 buttons on the steering wheel transforms the driving experience — the dials on the instrument cluster come alive, the throttle response sharpens, and the XM awakens its inner beast. It delivers the performance expected from the M division but takes it to a whole new level.

The XM also embraces its role as a modern-day grand tourer. Its SUV stance combined with the impressive hybrid range allows for effortless long-distance travel. Imagine a journey from Delhi to Mumbai feeling like a breeze — the XM’s combination of power and comfort ensures a relaxed and enjoyable experience. The ample space ensures passengers remain comfortable throughout the journey, while the car’s undeniable style guarantees a grand entrance upon arrival.

The BMW XM carves its niche in the automotive landscape. It’s not simply an SUV; it’s a statement piece, a technological marvel, and a testament to BMW’s commitment to pushing boundaries. There’s no direct competition for the XM — it exists in a league of its own. The price tag of ₹ 2.6 crore (ex-showroom) might raise eyebrows, but for those seeking a unique combination of grand touring vibes, performance, and innovation, the XM delivers exceptional value. It’s a showstopper for the BMW lineup, a car that’s guaranteed to turn heads and redefine expectations.