The arrival of the 2024 BMW XM, a robust 738-horsepower hybrid SUV, triggered my intrigue but left me pondering its finer nuances after an immersive encounter that was both enlightening and puzzling. Navigating the vibrant roads outside Greenville, South Carolina, aboard the opulent $191,895 BMW XM Label, I was immersed in its grandeur yet perturbed by an unsettling resonance seeping through the cabin on uneven surfaces. Despite its elevated status as a luxury vehicle, the disconcerting vibrations left a lingering dissonance.
Amidst initial reservations surrounding the launch of BMW M’s colossal and avant-garde SUV, I refrained from swift judgment. Inclined towards reserving opinions on BMW designs that often grow on one over time, I anticipated discovering the quintessential BMW prowess in this robust SUV.
Beneath the surface lies substantial engineering prowess. The BMW XM debuts as BMW M’s maiden plug-in hybrid, merging the revered 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 with an integrated electric motor nestled between the engine and an eight-speed gearbox. In the top-tier “Label” variant, this potent V-8 generates 577 horsepower, synergizing with the electric motor to deliver an impressive system output of 738 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. The standalone electric motor commands 194 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, drawing power from a 19.2-kWh battery pack, endowing the XM with a commendable 30 miles of electric-only range—an arrangement anticipated to grace the future M5 model.
Resembling the size of the three-row X7, the XM seats five individuals and aims beyond sheer performance, positioning itself as a luxurious grand tourer catering to the upper echelons of the SUV market. The “Label” variant, originally intended as “Label Red,” exudes similarity to the 644-hp base model. However, it adopts an engine specification akin to the M5 and M8, featuring distinctive black-and-red interior trims and an array of BMW Individual color choices.
Initial encounters with the XM were promising. Its electric mode kickstarts with remarkable torque, effortlessly maneuvering the colossal SUV within urban environs. However, a curious transition between the engine and electric motor occasionally felt abrupt, accompanied by an unconventional auditory signature from the V-8, diverging from BMW M’s customary exhaust tone. The incorporation of 22-inch wheels, with the option of 23-inch ones for the Label, coupled with Yokohama and Pirelli P-Zero PZ4 tires, contributed to audible resonance, detracting from the anticipated refinement.
Somewhat atypical for its class, the XM adopts conventional coil-spring suspension, a departure from its competitors favoring air springs. This choice translates into a relatively firmer ride even in the Comfort mode, contrasting with the smoother performance of its counterparts like the air-sprung Porsche Cayenne Turbo E-Hybrid. Striving for luxury grand touring, the XM’s ride quality may fall short of expectations, seemingly discordant with its intended purpose.
Undoubtedly swift and equipped with an active anti-roll bar system, the XM impresses with its cornering capabilities, yet its size and weight inevitably surface during acceleration and braking, compromising its agility.
From a holistic driving perspective, the XM leaves an indistinct impression—it doesn’t quite reach the pinnacle of luxury nor exude the exhilaration of a performance vehicle. Inside, while not subpar, the cabin falls short of justifying its lofty $185,995 base price when juxtaposed with the opulence found in BMW’s 7-Series. Despite its allure and undeniable performance, I found myself questioning the XM’s broader appeal amidst alternatives like the exceptional Alpina XB7 offered by BMW North America at a comparatively modest starting price of $150,395.
2024 BMW XM radiates an undeniable aura and unmatched performance, yet it leaves me musing about its identity and raison d’être. Its allure might suffice to draw buyers, but beyond its visual prominence and sheer power, I’m left contemplating its true essence in a segment brimming with choices that excel in various facets.