If you’re after a high-performance SUV, you’re currently spoilt for choice. Porsche, Lamborghini, and even Tesla have produced performance SUVs, but BMW’s M division was yet to have a proper go – until now. This is the BMW XM.

Soon to be tussling with the Ferrari Purosangue, Lamborghini Urus Performante, Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT and Tesla Model X Plaid, the BMW XM is the first M Division-only car since the 70s (Yes there are other M-labelled SUVs – like the X5 M and X6 M – but the XM is an M-exclusive model) and it’s again jumping on current trends – this time it’s big, brash SUVs.

It’s like deciding which bubble tea flavour to go for – all have different characteristics and suit different people.

Where the XM certainly divides opinion is how it looks. It’s not a pretty car, to be blunt, with BMW doubling down on the huge kidney grilles, which now come with lights on the inside. You also get split headlights at the front, while you get a squarer design down the side.

You can choose between 21-, 22- and 23-inch alloys – with the larger ones likely to fill the arches better – while the blocky design continues at the rear. You get thin taillights, quad tailpipes, a rear diffuser and BMW logos etched into the rear, all adding to the sporty nature.

The cabin is much less controversial. It’s tidy, modern and features a sweeping screen holding both the driver’s display and infotainment touchscreen. You can get tasteful all-black or less tasteful two-tone upholstery to adorn the cabin alongside many other M features to make it even more obvious that it’s a special model – like the steering wheel-mounted M buttons and M-specific gear lever.
With its square body shape and measuring 5.1m long, there’s loads of head and legroom, making it good for those wanting to carry passengers for the day-to-day family commute or for a fun countryside blast.

The boot is 527 litres, which compared to its main rivals is about average. The Tesla Model X Plaid has over 1,100 litres with five seats in place, while the BMW also falls behind the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT (549 litres) and Lamborghini Urus Performante (616 litres). It only beats the Ferrari Purosangue, which has a 473-litre boot.

From launch, the plug-in hybrid XM will come with a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 paired with an electric motor developing 653hp and 800Nm of torque. The sprint from 0-60mph takes just 4.3 seconds and it can reach a limited top speed of 155mph. That limiter can be raised to 168mph.

But if you want BMW’s most powerful road car ever in its punchiest form, you’ll want to wait for the Label Red version. It uses the same setup, but power is upped to 748hp and 1,000Nm of torque, promising even more impressive performance.

The hybrid system for both includes a 25.7kWh battery pack that delivers up to 55 miles of electric-only driving. Charging on AC only, its max charging rate is 7.4kW and it takes a little under four and a half hours to fully charge.

When you drive on electric, you do get less punch than you get with the petrol engine involved, but it makes town driving very easy. The steering is responsive and light enough, while the suspension soaks up most bumps and cracks in the road.
There’s limited tyre noise from the huge wheels and the overall refinement is excellent, making long-distance driving a relaxing affair. Having the hybrid setup helps with fuel consumption, but it’ll be nowhere near BMW’s claimed figure of 188.3mpg because most won’t charge the electric system up often enough.

To make sure it doesn’t feel too firm when you’re driving this 2,710kg SUV, BMW has fitted its adaptive M suspension setup so you can soften the ride for longer drives, and firm it up when you want to attack a road. However, you still feel a lot of lean on twistier roads even with this harder setup.

There is plenty of performance offered by the 653hp power system, but when going for harder acceleration, the automatic transmission is hesitant to respond quickly enough, which takes away from the experience a little. You can fix this by using manual mode, but this issue makes it feel less like a flagship M car.

While there are some admirable features that make the XM a cool car, it lacks some of the excitement of its rivals and doesn’t quite live up to the flagship M car billing as many would have hoped.

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