BMW XM Concept will become most powerful M car ever

30th November 2021
Bob Murray

There’s never been a BMW M car that looks like it or will go like it, and not since the M1 supercar of 1978 has there been an entirely standalone model bearing the M badge. It’s the BMW Concept XM, today a dramatic design statement but tomorrow a new pinnacle of performance and luxury to mark the 50th anniversary of Germany’s famed go-faster division.


For half a century now BMW M GmbH has been electrifying the car world, first with race cars then with the mid-engined M1 followed by a roll-call of high performance versions of BMW’s standard models. Now it’s come up with… you guessed, its first model that is actually electrified. Fear not though, those quad exhaust exits at the back tell their own story: there’s a  mighty V8 under this bonnet. 

It’s a hybrid then, of the plug-in variety, and M has never put its name to one of those before.  The petrol engine combined with electric motor together deliver 750PS (550kW) with peak torque of 1,000 Nm (737 lb ft). What better way to mark your 50th than with the most powerful BMW M car ever to go into series production?

The XM is huge, rolls on 23-inch wheels, and is sure to be no lightweight, but should not be lacking for true M-style performance, although no figures are so far forthcoming. The only number we do have is 50 miles – the distance the car can run on electric power alone. 

“The BMW Concept XM represents a complete re-imagining of the high-performance car segment,” M chief executive Franciscus van Meel tells us. “The series-production car – 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.”


It’s a concept as you see it here, but do not dismiss the XM as a flight of fancy. The hybrid powertrain is being previewed in likely production form, and the next time we see those aggressively chiselled looks will be on the production version, to be badged BMW XM, which is due  in showrooms at the end of 2022. It will be made in BMW’s assembly plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The XM is a bespoke machine based on the similarly US-built X7 but with unique styling to make it a new pinnacle SUV for the brand and which, like its famous M1 forebear, will have no equivalent in the regular BMW range. Elements of the XM including the front-end styling with its  light-up kidney grilles will however filter down to other luxury BMW models in due course.

Designed perhaps more for its main market of the United States than Europe, the XM in concept form is not for the faint-hearted. Pretty is not a word you could use here. Head on, the BMW face is clear, though with features – the geometric intakes, tiny lights and massive grille – that are clearly evolved from BMW’s latest design language. Neat touches include powerdomes on the bonnet and LED spotlights above the windscreen.

In profile the XM’s severely chiselled lines and rising waistline present a new side to BMW design, one that perhaps may take more time getting used to. Black A pillars and heavy black beltline, contrasting body colours top and bottom, falling roofline and chunky hexagonal wheelarches could all belong on a number of cars, not specially BMWs though. The rear end is equally bold.


BMW says the XM has “heavily contoured proportions” and a “resolutely standalone identity”. The head of BMW Design Domagoj Dukec tells us it “embodies an expressive lifestyle like no other model in the BMW line-up.” Well fine, as long as people like it…

M is all about performance but XM promises to be just as much about luxury. Features previewed by the concept include an  illuminated roof liner, a la Rolls-Royce, and sumptuous rear bench seat trimmed in velvet for that “lounge” ambience that carmakers are currently so fond of. Not sure about the velvet, but the cabin’s vintage-look leather and carbon-fibre with interwoven copper thread do hint at the motorsport-inspired luxury that BMW says was the point behind it.

BMW is adamant there is plenty of driver focus here as well, beyond the red accents on the steering wheel and trio of elements in the colours of the M logo on the centre console.

BMW confirms the XM will kick off M division’s next 50 years when production starts in the US at the end of next year. A giant SUV with a strong luxury bent and hybrid powertrain, it’s all quite a contrast to the M1 and how M was first marketed to the public.

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