The 2023 BMW XM is purpose-built to get your attention
There was a time when "M" cars were lauded not only for the dynamic capability bestowed upon them by BMW's motorsport division but also for their measured aesthetic. Models like the E39-generation M5 epitomized the "if you know, you know" design philosophy, a balanced approach that won the hearts of enthusiasts and mostly flew under the radar for everyone else. But as the new XM plug-in hybrid clearly illustrates, the M Division is undergoing a sea change.
It has been more than four decades since BMW produced the last M1, the only other road-going machine developed exclusively by the company's storied performance arm. And much like the M1, the XM serves as a statement of purpose.
But this is not a limited-production, mid-engine supercar, nor is it a stripped-down homologation specially built to satisfy the stipulations of a racing series, as the first M3 was. Instead, the XM was designed to represent the pinnacle. Not the pinnacle of performance, but the pinnacle of the modern BMW experience. And it resoundingly succeeds in that mission.
Recent models like the G80 M3 have made it clear that BMW isn't afraid to take some risks when it comes to design, and the XM takes this newfound courage several steps further. It's a look that M Division development head Dirk Hacker refers to as "extroverted," and unlike the M vehicles of yore, it is essentially purpose-built to grab your attention.
Its big, commanding footprint is on par with the X7 despite the XM's lack of third-row seating, and there's an array of sharp angles and exaggerated proportions that give this SUV an undeniably bold presence. Beyond the massive kidney grilles and the standard 23-inch wheels, the XM is an assortment of angles and curves from stem to stern, and optional gold trim allows owners to take that head-turning appearance even further. Look beyond the visual bombast, though, and there are also some compelling details to discover, like the vertically stacked exhaust tips--a first for BMW--and laser-etched logos on the upper corners of the rear glass that pay homage to the M1.
While elements like the geometrically sculpted and LED-trimmed headliner offer a sense of occasion, the cabin of the XM is a more conventional affair. You'll find bits of carbon fiber on the center console, door panels, and elsewhere to remind you of the model's performance intent, but luxury is the true focus here.
Alcantara and diamond-quilted leather abound--particularly in the back, which is dubbed the "M Lounge" due to the continuation of the rear seat materials onto the door trim panels, which allows passengers to comfortably sit at an angle. Meanwhile, BMW's Curved Display system serves as the technological centerpiece up front. Stretching across more than half of the dashboard, it houses a 12.3-inch screen for the digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch touchscreen that handles both infotainment and climate settings.