Auto Futures was granted a special sneak peek at the BMW Concept XM. A limited number of journalists were invited to a media event held at BMW’s [SPACE] at the Grove, an upscale shopping village with concierge amenities near Beverly Hills.
A high-end hybrid, the Concept XM packs a powerful 8-cylinder engine, developed by BMW’s M performance division, supported by an advanced hybrid powertrain. The cabin, meanwhile, fuses sporty elements in the front with a luxury lounge retreat in the rear. Auto Futures learned about the design and concept details from Franciscus van Meel, chairman of the board of BMW M GmbH and Marcus Syring, head of BMW M Design.
Sebastian Mackensen also made his first public US appearance since being appointed as president and CEO for BMW of North America. Mackensen has a history of managing premium automotive brands in North America musing, “This is not my first rodeo.”
He noted that BMW has a strong presence in the US and accounts for one-third of the global M sales. He called the BMW Concept XM a special exciting high-powered hybrid electric concept vehicle, whilst also maintaining that BMW M models are high-performance vehicles designed for enthusiasts. van Meel, meanwhile, explained that it was the first glimpse of the BMW XM outside of the board of directors.
“We started as BMW Motorsports in 1972 with the Turbo which became the M1. 2022 is the 50th anniversary of BMW M. This is the second M1 vehicle that is going to come to the market. For us, it is something really special. M was the first company to think about how to bring everyday usability and motorsports together in one car.”
“We wanted to attack the biggest segment, SUVs with a pure M vehicle. It is also the first BMW M vehicle to be electrified. It is introducing the X with the XM in a completely new way with a very extroverted appearance on the outside,” said van Meel.
Draped in black, the BMW Concept XM towered above the room and audience. Once the cover was pulled off, the sheer size of the large SUV’s design dominated the room.
Syring started off by explaining the design elements of the front of the BMW Concept XM and said that the concept’s design will preview future front designs in production cars.
“We see the large kidney [grilles] and for the first time, complete control of the lighting. The lights are split into two lights expressing luxury,” said Syring.
“The bonnet expresses the concept of form follows function because we need a lot of air. With a V8 engine and electric motor, we have up to 750 hp. It is the strongest engine we have ever had at BMW,” said Syring. The engine’s peak torque is 737 lb-ft.
The huge 23-inch wheels, according to van Meel, are designed for driving performance and comfort. It has agility, dynamics and luxury. The XM’s long wheelbase also helps stability at speed, explained van Meel.
“The car is all about four major principles– BMW DNA, BMW M power, luxurious materials, and electrification,” said Syring.
The XM also features a long stretch bonnet and dynamically declining roofline with a powerful rear end, he continued, while the two-tone colour scheme combines light and warm with dark and cold.
The rear features a seamless window, three-dimensional taillights, and iconic M twin tailpipes enclosed within hexagonal exhausts.
“The iPhone optic of the rear does not have a sticker or logo, it is all high technology,” said van Meel. The BMW roundels are laser-etched into the rear window glass.
“When we start a vehicle, we give a name to know the direction. The word for this car is the rock star. There is no first and second class in this car. The driver in the front is sporty, while in the back you have a luxury lounge backstage,” said van Meel.
The interior features a unique combination of luxurious materials. The carbon fibre dash has sparkling copper accents that reflect the soft brown leather jacket-looking seats. The curved touchscreen hugs around the driver for easy access to the cockpit controls.
The backstage backseat called the “M Lounge” wowed journalists. The diamond-quilted velvet seats and deep pile carpet would feel more at home luxury hotel lounge than in the back seat of an SUV. A bigger wow came from looking up at the three-dimensional prism soft material in the ceiling that changes colours through LED lighting for different moods.
“It’s indirect lighting. We have different colours with LEDs, you can mix all kinds of colours. It is controlled from the central display,” said Syring.
Production is expected to begin by the end of 2022 at the BMW Group Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina where BMW assembles many SUVs and crossovers. There is a driver’s side charging plug and an expected all-electric range of up to 80 km (WLTP) and up to 30 miles of electric driving.
The BMW XM is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) only and exclusively sold as an M model. BMW has not announced pricing. When Auto Futures guessed at something over $100,000, there was a maybe/probably nod from BMW reps.
The vehicle was officially revealed Monday at the Art Basel 2021 Miami Beach show.
In a statement issued on Monday, van Meel summed up the BMW Concept XM by saying, “The BMW Concept XM represents a complete re-imagining of the high-performance vehicle segment. It underlines the ability of BMW M GmbH to break with established conventions and push boundaries in order to offer fans of the brand the ultimate driving experience. The series-production vehicle – the first pure BMW M model since the legendary BMW M1 – also shows how we are approaching the step-by-step electrification of our brand.”