car tests

Review – BMW XM (2024) – Completely unnecessary, but still fun

April 13, 2024

However rotten your workday is, I’m sure it can’t be as rotten as the workdays of the person at BMW who has to keep track of social media comments. Indeed, criticism of the design direction the brand took some time ago is still not off the table. If you look at the XM, it is somewhat explainable where those reactions come from. After all, “beautiful” is not the first word that rolls out of the cranium after seeing the thick five-meter-long and two-meter-wide super-SUV. ‘Heady’ and ‘imposing’ are. With its huge – also illuminated – grille, two-layer headlights, sharp creases in the bodywork and stacked exhausts, the BMW XM is something of a black hole when it comes to absorbing the attention of its surroundings. Escape is impossible. This is evident from the very first meters of that we cover for the review with the BMW XM.

Electric? Well, sort of…

Attention, then, which we get right away when we disconnect the XM from the charging station. “Is it electric? No sir, the XM is a plug-in hybrid. After all, that huge grille is there for a reason. Under the hood is a 4.4-liter V8 that receives additional ventilation from two turbos. By itself, this engine produces 489 hp and 650 Nm of torque in the XM. That in itself is nice, but we don’t unplug the XM for nothing. In fact, the eight-cylinder is assisted by an electric motor with an output of 197 hp and 280 Nm of torque. For system power, you may never add up the values directly, so the XM ends up with a not undeserving 653 hp and 800 Nm. Solid. Not firm enough yet? Then there is the XM Label Red, which, thanks to a more powerful V8 (585 hp/750 Nm), reaches a system output of a whopping 748 hp and 1,000 Nm. Can you feel the paving stones shivering yet?

Black BMW XM at an industrial washing station with blue machine structures and hoses in the foreground.

The XM starts silently at first. When driving away, the electric motor taps its first sips of power from the 25.7 kWh battery pack. That battery capacity means you can travel a nice distance electrically with the XM; in practice, that means you can drive between 60 and 80 km fully electric before the big V8 kicks in. In practice, it is especially very nice that the engine does not have to run when you drive a short distance to the supermarket, for example, or when you are driving through town or in a traffic jam. It also results in favorable practical consumption. After a week, with consistent charging, we scored a practical consumption of 1 to 18. Pretty neat for such a behemoth with V8. In doing so, the two powertrains work well together and the transition from electric to gasoline is particularly smooth.

Close-up of a BMW XM steering wheel with controls and logo focused on the red M1 button on the left.

To the measure

Because a behemoth, the XM certainly is. Not only is it 5.11 meters long, it is also over two meters wide. This immediately makes the XM the widest BMW ever. Then there is the weight: 2,685 kilograms clean off the hook. So despite the XM’s outlandish power, the sprint to 100 km/h is completed in over four seconds: 4.3 seconds to be exact. That’s still blisteringly fast, but compared to some EVs on the market today, it seems pretty slow. Still, the acceleration in the XM feels a lot more brutal than in, say, an iX M60. You hear the engine roar, the nose comes up and you dash off. The ease with which EVs can accelerate is impressive, but it is not nearly as much fun as in the XM.

So do you notice the weight in the corners? Yes, absolutely, although BMW did its best to make the XM handle its weight optimally. You notice it especially in the damping: it is on the stiff side. The XM is on coil springs all around, which is a great contrast to the X5’s air suspension. While the damping is adaptive, it never gets truly comfortable, and in sport mode the XM is simply spiky. Dive into a corner and the XM follows your commands well, but the car does lean slightly, and when you reach the limit, you find that all sails must be set to keep the weight moving along in the right direction. In short, the XM certainly has sporty aspirations, but its high weight throws a bit of a spanner in the works in that regard. Very comfortable he is not either. Hmm…

A black BMW XM parked near a crane and a large blue and white cement silo in an industrial park.

A sense of luxury

In terms of driving characteristics, then, the BMW XM does not score particularly well. For sportiness you are better off with an M3 or M5, for comfort you are better off getting into an X5 or X7. So in what areas does the XM score? First of all, the thundering sound of the V8, which is downright addictive, especially at low revs. But also the overall level of luxury on board. In the XM, everything is covered in leather, from the seats to the dashboard, center tunnel and door panels. The finish is sublime, as is the space in the rear. You really feel like you’re staying in a lounge of sorts. The roof liner is also uniquely finished, with mood lighting to finish it off. The BMW XM does not have a panoramic roof, but at a time when almost every car has a glass roof, it is nice that BMW does things just a little differently for its top model.

Inside view of the BMW XM showing the steering wheel, dashboard with digital display and center console.

Conclusion BMW XM review

We can conclude that the BMW XM is not an easy car to review. The looks are polarizing, it is quite heavy, and the powertrain also already consists of two extremes: either electric or 1 to 9 with the V8. Besides, it is not really sporty, but it is not comfortable either. So what is the XM? Above all, it’s a unique statement on wheels, a car you drive because you don’t feel like conforming to the norm. Yet another advantage: because it is a plug-in hybrid – and emissions are not too bad on paper at 34 grams per km – you get into an XM for just over 176,000 euros. That while the less powerful X5 M approaches two tons in euros. To summarize our review with the BMW XM, we certainly enjoyed it in some ways, but it is by no means a perfect car.

photos by Yannick Nijmeijer