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BMW XM Review: It Deserves To Wear The M Badge. No, Really

The XM surprises with its agility and poise, despite its size and weight.
James Wong
James Wong
12 Jul 2023
The key to the XM’s appeal is the PHEV drivetrain.
What we like:
Ride and handling will rival the best in its class
Boundary-breaking exterior and interior design is what it takes to break into this segment
That 4.4-litre V8 is more pleasant to run with the option of running in EV mode
What we dislike:
Polarising and controversial - not for shrinking violets
Car is one size too big for Singapore
More steering feel wouldn't go amiss

I had my doubts about the XM when it arrived on the Internet. I heard the word ‘vulgar’ to describe it many times, while others felt it threw away the rulebook of what BMW stood for. Surely, most could see the tenuous BMW M1 homage.

And then when I drove it, its aloof steering threw me off, although expectations were sky high given it is a ground-up development of BMW M. BMW’s OS 8, if you’ve read my other reviews, still made things more complicated than it should be. The car feels gargantuan in a HDB multi-storey car park too, like a giant hulk crawling uncomfortably in a squeezy concrete dungeon.

But I’ll be damned, I grew to like the XM. I’m not quite sure I believe it, but it is true. Hear me out.

Its handling is nothing short of outstanding. I’ve been behind the wheel of some of the sportiest SUVs out there, and the XM sits with the best of them. It feels lithe and agile, working all four wheels like it’s a true M car. There’s active roll stabilisation and all wheel steering to aid in that. One doesn’t really feel its weight. It really has no right to handle like that, but it does.

Next, the car’s refinement and comfort is almost worth the $1m asking price. It’s definitely 7-Series territory, yet managing it while wearing 23-inch wheels. The damping from the adaptive air suspension is simply wizard-level stuff. On the go, the car is simply whisper quiet, unless of course, you call upon the monstrous V8, which is still a pleasant note that never becomes intrusive or harsh. It also helps that the interior is mostly filled with soft padded surfaces, especially the rear seats which feel like a sofa in a man cave.

Hold that thought for a moment. It was as if BMW designers envisioned the dark underbelly of Gotham City when putting together the XM’s interior. The textured roof, the weathered saddle leathers and the strategically placed ambient lighting all work together to create a mobile lounge fit for Batman. Some will like it and some will not, but it definitely has the ‘wow’ factor for sure.

If not the design, then the car’s space will impress. Built upon the platform of the 7 seater X7 but catering only for 5 seats, there is generous room especially for rear passengers. There’s a huge boot with a flat floor too, as well as plenty of head and shoulder room.

The key to the XM’s appeal is the PHEV drivetrain. Despite all of the OTT looks and persona, it really is a tame thing to drive most of the time when you just want to scythe around in electric mode. There is just about ample range for a day’s errands (82-88 km WLTP), but it is comforting to know that there is a BMW M 4.4-litre V8 at your disposal whenever, wherever. It’s a fabulous engine and elevates the bad-ass image of the XM by several notches. Total output? A dizzying 653 hp and 800 Nm for a 0-100 km/h time of 4.3 seconds.

Lastly, if you’re going to pay $1m for a super SUV, people had better pay attention right? No problem with the XM - in a car park with a Mercedes G63 AMG or a Range Rover, the XM can hold its own very well indeed.

I'm surprised to say it, but the XM really earned its M stripes, more so than any other M SUV that came before it.

Photos by New Gen Marketing


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