BMW M turns 50 and this gargantuan concept car is its birthday present to itself

BMW M turns 50 and this gargantuan concept car is its birthday present to itself

Behold, the startling result of what happens when BMW X meets M with no limitations. To say BMW’s design department is not afraid to shake things up of late – with the new 4 Series, 2 Series and iX – would be the understatement of the decade.


M LEVIATHAN


Versus this new Concept XM, however, the penmanship of the aforementioned comes across as positively tame. Even compared to its namesake, the controversial-for-its- time Citroën XM (European Car of the Year in 1990 if you’re a Frenchcar anorak), the BMW XM looks like it hails from outer space.

Aesthetics aside, what exactly is the BMW Concept XM? Broad strokes, it’s based on a BMW X7 that has been chiselled down with a low coupé-SUV roofline and splashed with extra design flair. The cherry on top for the M division is that it is a plug-in hybrid … not just that, but it’s available in plug-in hybrid form only, a harbinger of the future for BMW M cars, no doubt.

This is not a fanciful concept mind you. The current boss of BMW M, Frank van Meel returned after Markus Flasch moved to Rolls-Royce in 2021, and says a production version is arriving this year. He calls it “the first pure BMW M model since the legendary M1”. If that’s not window-dressing, it sure is strong words indeed.

It may not look like an M1 – or any M car for that matter – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the power to make up the deficit. The production-spec XM will use the first BMW M-developed plug-in hybrid powertrain, developing a total system output of 552 kW and 1 000 N.m of torque. Befitting the X name, it is all-wheel drive to ensure that electrically charged oomph is transmitted to the asphalt effectively.

As for the non-electric propulsion; interestingly, there’s a 4,0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol (not the long-serving 4,4-litre), with the battery pack and single electric motor. While performance specs are unknown, the firm maintains the XM is capable of 70 km of electric-only range. As is so often the case with BMW M, the XM will be a testbed for the plug-in hybrid powertrain’s dissemination into the rest of the M range. The next M5 will arrive as both a plug-in hybrid and full battery-electric car, and it’s the same story with the X5/X6 M.

There is also the dramatic interior to consider that looks production-ready to us and confirms the next era of BMW M products. It puts us in mind of the all-electric iX we drove in January 2022 with the curved displays that sit atop a broad, driver-focused dashboard with M-specific graphics. Elsewhere, it’s been nicknamed the M Lounge, using dramatic colours and contrasting materials from rustic brown leathers to soft-patterned fabrics and deep, lush carpets. The headliner has a prismatic pattern, backlit to create a 3D effect, like the Rolls-Royce starry night roof lining. If you can look past the massive kidney grilles, brutish, angular lines, vertical tailpipes and general over-the- top styling, this is a significant car for BMW M. We expect many of these qualities will be toned down for the production model that will debut before the year is through.

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