Those who gave BMW a hard time for the new M3 and M4’s oversized snouts can get their pitchforks back out. The German automaker has now unveiled the Concept XM, a preview of what will eventually be the most powerful BMW ever, the very first electrified M car, and the first standalone M product not based on an existing Bimmer since the M1 supercar went out of production in 1981.
It’s also BMW’s latest and possibly most egregious styling stunt yet. Most noticeably, it sports a kidney grille that’s so big, it feels like it came from a parody photoshop of what BMW might do to the next-gen X7. Granted, the rest of the car is slightly less jarring to behold (only slightly though)—that rear three-quarter view looks like it has the potential to not be that bad in real life, and perhaps it’ll look a little more palatable come production time. But, as it stands, I’d be lying if I said I found this car to be very visually attractive.
What’s more, BMW says the Concept XM’s front end isn’t just a glimpse of the road-ready XM but is also a peek at the faces of the brand’s upcoming higher-end models in general. So, yeah, get ready for more of this.
Beyond the grille, BMW has installed slim LED lights where the A-pillars meet the roof; 23-inch wheels with some very formal-looking center caps; unconventional, hexagonal, vertically-stacked exhaust tips; and laser-etched BMW logos at the top of the rear window as an homage to the aforementioned M1. Climbing inside, things… aren’t any less polarizing.
The actual layout—featuring an ultra-wide, curved screen just like the iX—isn’t too funky. I do dig the carbon-copper blend dash trim and “three-dimensional prism” headliner but the materials BMW has chosen to cover everything in are, let’s say, A Choice. BMW’s literature gives the impression that this was very much the intent but everything looks old and pre-worn somehow. There’s mahogany-colored leather up front and dark turquoise lines in the rear “lounge” area, which itself plays host to a piece of green carpet that looks like it was found in the dusty back corner of Munich’s local Goodwill.
What lies underneath the skin, though, sounds more promising. Behind the big nostrils sits a plug-in hybrid V8 powertrain producing a total of 750 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque, set to make the upcoming production XM the most powerful Bimmer to date—eclipsing the current BMW top dog, the 627-horse M5 CS. Rumored to carry engine code S68, this particular V8 may also be the last V8 BMW ever develops. Available exclusively as a plug-in, the XM will apparently be good for approximately 30 miles of electric-only range.
While the car you see here is still technically a concept, the production-ready BMW XM is scheduled to hit the assembly line in late 2022. It’ll be built right here in the U.S., at the company’s Spartanburg plant in South Carolina.
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