2023 BMW XM
(Photo/BMW)

BMW Celebrates M’s 50th Birthday With Debut of Electrified XM SUV

It’s been 50 years since BMW’s vaunted M brand made its debut, and it’s marking the occasion with the performance marque’s most powerful street model ever. And the 2023 BMW XM also happens to be its first electrified model. But expect it to turn the controversy dial up to 11.

Nearly a year after providing a handful of journalists a sneak peek ahead of the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show, BMW is giving the whole world a look at a new model destined to turn heads and burn rubber.

The 2023 BMW XM is a massive SUV developed specifically for the M brand and featuring the marque’s first electrified drivetrain. Pairing a twin-turbo V8 with a single electric motor, the new model pumps out 644 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. And for those who want to focus on the XM’s environmental bona fides, it will allow a driver to clock up to 30 miles in all-electric mode.

2023 BMW XM
(Photo/BMW)

“BMW M unleashes high performance in a form never experienced before. Innovative drive system technology, unique vehicle concept, a door opened into a whole new market segment and the ambition to attract new groups of customers,” the automaker said in a statement that described the XM as ”intensely driver-focused, boldly modern, and indulgently sybaritic.”

BMW XM: Toned Down — Sort Of

The automaker might also have used the term, “toned down,” at least when compared with the concept version it unleashed during the L.A. Auto Show last year. That prototype featured an array of eye-popping colors and unusual materials, especially in the back seat, which BMW dubbed the “Lounge.”

Its rear bench was finished in a vibrant aquamarine, with seat bottoms made of a quilted fabric, while the backs were done up in a matte-finish leather. The floor, meanwhile, featured deep pile carpeting, while a thick headliner used both direct and indirect lighting.

2023 BMW XM
(Photo/BMW)

The production model is only a bit more sedate. An image released by the Bavarian automaker shows the instrument panel, headliner, and upper door panels swathed in a thick brown Merino leather with contrasting blue on the seats, center console, and lower surfaces. To ensure “maximum individuality,” the automaker noted, it is highlighting “creases, scars and worn areas” using a novel finishing process.

As for the back, BMW still calls it a “Lounge,” and it’s even plusher, with seating for two and a third, if necessary.

M Electrified: Power & Emotion

2023 BMW XM
(Photo/BMW)

The XM is clearly designed to elicit an emotional experience, and that starts with the drivetrain which pairs a newly developed TwinPower Turbo V8 making 483 horsepower with a 194-horsepower electric motor built into the eight-speed M Steptronic transmission. The combined output peaks at 644 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.

Power goes to all four wheels using the M-tuned xDrive system. Engage Launch Control, the automaker boasts, and you’ll hit 60 in 4.1 seconds.

A key to the performance is the instant torque the electric motor develops. But it’s both beast and beauty, allowing the 25.7 kWH of usable energy storage to propel the SUV up to 30 miles in all-electric mode, based on the EPA test cycle.

2023 BMW XM
(Photo/BMW)

Sounding Off

In an unusual move, BMW engineers designed the powertrain to allow a motorist to hear both sides of the powertrain.

“The power delivery of the electric motor retains its aural accompaniment when the combustion engine is running,” it noted. “If the Sport or Sport Plus mode is engaged while in HYBRID driving mode a distinctive boost sound gives the driver an acoustic experience of the additional performance delivered the electric motor.”

An “emotionally rich,” albeit artificial, sound “experience” is created when the XM is running solely on battery power, BMW added.

2023 BMW XM: More to Come — A Lot More

2023 BMW XM
(Photo/BMW)

The new BMW XM will go into production during the fourth quarter of 2022 at the automaker’s plant in Spartanburg, S.C. Deliveries should start early into the new year. Expect a base price of $150,000 plus $995 in delivery fees. And, yes, that is for a base model.

The German manufacturer said that it will reveal an even more exotic model, dubbed the BMW XM Label Red sometime early in 2023. It will mark the launch of a new series of “BMW Label” models.

The limited-run version of the XM will have power bumped up to 735 horsepower and 735 pound-feet of torque — closer to the 750 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of the original Los Angeles concept. The Label Red model will add unique paint, upholstery, wheels, and other features. And it’s set to go on sale in summer 2023.

Paul Eisenstein
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Paul A. Eisenstein is an award-winning publisher, photographer, editor, and one of the world’s most widely published automotive journalists. His work appears in a wide range of print, broadcast, and electronic outlets, including AutoWise, GearJunkie, NBC News, Forbes Wheels, and his own automotive website, TheDetroitBureau.com. He’s a North American Car and Truck of the Year juror, and board member and past president of the Automotive Press Association. J.D. Power also named him a “Pioneer of the Internet."