Ok, fine, BMW has just said in no uncertain terms with the revealing of the Concept XM. If you don’t like our big grilles, that’s too bad. Because instead of just going tall, the XM goes wide, too. Combined with barely visible headlamps, the front end of the XM is almost entirely grille opening. Then again, when you are a 740 hp PHEV and the most powerful production M car ever, you need a lot of airflow.
The Concept XM is our first look at a model that will see production late next year. The XM will be the first M exclusive model since the M1 coupe of the late 1970s and it marks 50 years since the founding of BMW M, both of which mean that the automaker is not messing around.
A V8 engine, not specified but likely a version of BMW’s current 4.4L turbo M-mill, will be paired with an electric motor and enough battery for an 80 km (WLTP) range. The pair will produce 740 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque, enough to make this the most powerful production M cars by an impressive 114 hp over the current champ, the M5 CS.
The styling will, no doubt, be contentious, but BMW has insisted that customers like its aggressive new noses, and the automaker says this is our first look at the face of the new luxury-class models BMW plans to reveal starting next year. It’s enough to make you miss the LED searchlights perched just above the windshield in the roof. From the rear, it’s more restrained, resembling the back of the iX electric crossover but trading that model’s boring bumper for one that has plenty of space for four large tailpipes to take care of the soundtrack. From the side, well, don’t expect great visibility (especially for rear-seat passengers) and we’ll leave it at that.
Inside, the concept has two very different themes for the front and rear. The front seats are finished in a vintage-look brown leather with carbon and copper finishes. The curved screen display wraps around the driver to create a more cockpit-like feel. The trio of centre air vents is meant to look like the M logo, and other M-specific accents and design elements are scattered around the space.
Aquamarine rear seats in a diamond stitch that serves to brighten the colours highlight what BMW is calling the M Lounge of the rear seat. Rich colours and a deeply recessed rear bench are intended to be a place to relax. The seating is velvet for a unique appearance. Only the fixed headrests are leather and are meant to support like a traditional M Sport seat. The carpet is deep-pile and gets a diamond pattern like the seatbacks.
The Concept XM was more about style than M-ness, but since it is intended to preview a very rare M-only model, expect serious performance credentials that go beyond the horsepower. 23-inch wheels, for example, leave loads of room for some very large brakes. Expect more details about that side of the vehicle as it gets closer to production, set for BMW’s plant in South Carolina late next year.