BMW M has a new plug-in hybrid SUV flagship, and it’s the first bespoke product for the division since the iconic M1.

The 2023 BMW XM has been revealed ahead of production commencing at the brand’s Spartanburg, South Carolina plant in December 2022.

It’ll arrive at dealers worldwide next autumn, with BMW prioritising the US, China and Middle East. An even more powerful version will follow later in 2023.

BMW Australia has confirmed the XM will arrive here in the first half of 2023, priced from $297,900 before on-roads, with the hi-po version following later in the year.

Powering the XM is a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 plug-in hybrid powertrain – M Hybrid in BMW parlance – mating a 145kW/280Nm electric motor and 360kW/650Nm engine for total system outputs of 480kW and 800Nm.

The electric motor is integrated into the eight-speed automatic transmission, and a pre-gearing stage increases the electric motor’s effective torque to 450Nm.

BMW claims a 0-100km/h time of 4.3 seconds, and says the V8 is a newly developed mill featuring a cross-bank exhaust manifold and an “optimised” oil separation process.

Those seeking more power can wait for the XM Label Red – yet to be revealed, and due in the northern autumn of 2023 – which will be the most powerful road-legal, series-produced vehicle in BMW M’s history.

The outputs of its V8 engine are bumped to 430kW and 750Nm, good for total system outputs of 550kW and 1000Nm. BMW advises these are provisional values based on the vehicle’s current stage of development.

Power in the XM is sent to the road via an M xDrive rear-biased all-wheel drive system, which has even more of a rear bias in 4WD Sport mode.

There’s also a 4WD Sand mode designed for blasting over dunes, while the differential in the rear axle is fully variable.

There are hybrid, electric, and eControl drive modes, though you can also configure your own custom mode.

The XM features double-wishbone front and five-link rear suspension with adaptive M suspension Professional, featuring electronically controlled dampers and active roll stabilisation with 48V electric motors and Active Roll Control.

The M Sport brakes also feature two pedal feel settings, while the XM is the first BMW M model with Integral Active Steering.

BMW promises “the widest possible spectrum between signature M dynamism and above-average ride comfort for its segment”.

The brand claims the XM’s lithium-ion battery, which has 25.7kWh of usable energy, can afford the SUV a maximum of 82-88km of electric-only driving on the stricter WLTP cycle.

The XM can be charged on AC power at up to 7.4kW.

The company’s engineers have paid careful attention to the XM’s soundtrack, with a sports exhaust system featuring electronically controlled, continuously adjustable flaps and an electric drive sound, like that of the electric iX, composed by Hans Zimmer.

BMW says the latter “provides authentic feedback to every movement of the accelerator pedal”, and if Sport or Sport Plus mode is engaged while operating in hybrid mode, the combustion engine soundtrack will be enhanced with a “boost sound”.

While the XM’s exterior styling has been leaked a few times ahead of its reveal, the interior has remained relatively under wraps.

Like the exterior, it has a close kinship with last year’s Concept XM. Highlights include the M Lounge rear bench, with deep seat recesses and distinctive three-dimensional diamond quilting, and the distinctive three-dimensional-look Alcantara headliner with 100 LEDs.

Standard equipment includes multicontour front seats, a Harman Kardon surround sound system, head-up display, and four-zone climate control.

A 20-speaker 1500W Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system is optional, as is Digital Key Plus which allows you to lock and unlock your vehicle via your iPhone using ultra-wideband radio technology.

As on almost every BMW now, there’s a Curved Display with the infotainment touchscreen and digital instrument cluster in the same assembly.

The cluster measures 12.3 inches, while the touchscreen measures 14.9 inches and runs on the latest BMW Operating System 8. It also features an Intelligent Personal Assistant and gesture control, plus cloud-based navigation.

There are four different interior trims available, plus a vintage leather option – like on the concept – for the upper sections of the instrument panel and door panels.

Like the concept, the exterior features a rakish, coupe-like silhouette, though the front and rear lighting elements have been tweaked somewhat.

Styling details include hexagonal, stacked dual exhaust outlets, plus a choice of 21-, 22- and 23-inch light-alloy wheels.

There are also gold-look surrounds for the illuminated kidney grille, plus a gold accent band running along the side of the vehicle that’s said to pay homage to the classic M1’s black strip.

BMW says other nods to the past include BMW logos engraved into the flat rear window, plus the louvred look of the tail lights.

Standard safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, a 3D surround-view camera, and driver attention monitoring. Adaptive cruise control with stop/go, traffic light recognition, and Steering and Lane Control Assistant are also available.

When it launches, the XM will slot in above the X6 M. But while you can buy an X6 sans the M treatment, BMW hasn’t announced plans to do a ‘regular’ XM.

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William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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