BMW unveils radical concept car XM SUV

Due to hit the roads in 2023, the hybrid targets Urus and Bentayga

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BMW has in recent times challenged public perceptions with its oversized grilles, but the Bavarian marque’s latest debutant elevates the shock value to a new level. Behold the mould-breaking Concept XM super-SUV, conceived to target Lamborghini’s Urus, Bentley’s Bentayga and Aston Martin’s DBX with its over-the-top styling and stratospheric pricing (likely to be around the Dh1 million mark).

Although presented for now in concept form, BMW’s head of design, Domagoj Dukec, confides the production-spec XM will be “95 per cent what you see here”. As per most of BMW’s X models, the XM will be built in the company’s Spartanburg plant in the US, with deliveries set to commence in early 2023.

Not only will the XM be BMW’s most powerful vehicle when it goes on sale, but it will also be its most expensive. “We wanted to attract customers who were previously out of our domain,” Dukec says at a closed-room pre-reveal of the Concept XM in Munich in October. “This vehicle closes the gap between the BMW X5M/X6M and Rolls-Royce Cullinan.” (The Rolls-Royce brand is owned by BMW)

The XM’s styling could diplomatically be termed “bold” as it’s sure to polarise public opinion with its offbeat proportions and plethora of sharp edges. Dukec says he and his design team wanted to create a look that’s “super-expressive, in the vein of the Mercedes G-Wagon and Cadillac Escalade. It’s very raw and extroverted.”

The production-spec XM will be 95 per cent similar to the concept car.

Concealed within the XM’s bodywork is a muscle-bound power train that pairs a twin-turbo V8 – a brand-new engine, rather than BMW’s existing 4.4-litre unit – with a supplementary electric motor. This petrol-electric combo delivers towering outputs of 750hp and 1,000Nm, comfortably trouncing the Lamborghini Urus (650hp/850Nm), Bentley Bentayga Speed (635hp/900Nm) and Aston Martin DBX (550hp/700Nm). In addition, the plug-in hybrid BeeEm can cover 80 kilometres in full-electric (zero-emission) mode.

Underpinning the XM is a shortened X7 platform, even though the concept’s appearance has nothing in common with its seven-seat stablemate. Dukec says the XM’s face – distinguished by a large twin-nostril grille that’s flanked by no less than eight lights – sets the template for all of BMW’s upcoming luxury models. The quartet of daytime-running lights peer out of narrow apertures in the top of the front fascia, while the four headlight beams hide behind darkened screens nestled above the air intakes.

The XM looks even more unconventional when viewed from the side, as most of the car’s contours (of which there are many) are defined by straight – or almost straight – lines. The concept vehicle features two-tone paintwork, with the upper section finished in matte gold-bronze, while the lower section is painted in a metallic shade dubbed Space Grey.

A high-gloss black line – which BMW refers to as the “black belt” – separates the two exterior colours. Another interesting design element is the 23-inch alloys with spinning centre caps that keep the BMW logo (scripted in chrome letters, rather than the familiar blue-and-white roundel) upright.

The XM’s derriere is no less avant-garde than the rest of the vehicle; elongated L-shaped taillights stretch out from behind the rear wheel arches towards the centre of the tailgate, which houses a window that’s somewhat U-shaped.

BMW logos are laser-etched into the rear window below each of the two cant rails that frame the top edge of the glass. These logos are a stylistic nod to the popular mid-engined M1 supercar that BMW’s M Division developed in the 1970s.

As per the usual BMW recipe, the XM has four tailpipes, but these also differ from the usual formula as they’re hexagonal in shape and stacked vertically. The exhausts protrude from a purposeful-looking diffuser that hints at the XM’s high-performance credentials.

Peer inside the XM, and the surprises continue.

The roof lining has geometric contours, rather than being a predominantly flat surface.

The cabin is trimmed in vintage leather to recreate the ambience of a cigar lounge. The Concept XM has diamond-quilted blue velour upholstery on the rear seats, but Dukec reveals this element (velour trim) will not carry through to the production version. The roof lining is also unusual as it has geometric contours, rather than being a predominantly flat surface.

Bold innovation or monumental misstep? We’ll have to wait until the XM’s 2023 debut to find out.

Updated: November 30, 2021, 12:19 PM