Does this SUV look like it could be the most powerful M car ever?

    A prototype of the upcoming 2023 BMW XM plug-in hybrid (PHEV) SUV has been spied during testing in Munich with less disguise than before.

    Revealed as a concept at the Art Basel’s 2021 Miami Beach show, the Concept XM alludes to the production XM that’ll be produced from the end of 2022 at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina plant.

    BMW says this high-performance PHEV will be the most powerful M car ever and is the division’s first-ever electrified vehicle.

    Under the bonnet is a V8 petrol engine mated to an electric motor, producing total system outputs of 550kW of power and 1000Nm of torque.

    BMW claims it’ll have an all-electric range of up to 80km.

    This prototype has the same fundamental silhouette and key design features as the Concept XM. There are few undisguised parts on this vehicles, giving us a peek at the red paint on the roof and on the vertical air intakes on the front bumper.

    Although it shares similar details to the Concept XM, the production XM appears to be toned down from the show car.

    At the front the XM prototype has extensive camouflage covering its large kidney grille, which has a horizontal orientation rather than the tall vertical grilles seen on the M3 and M4.

    On the Concept XM, the kidney grille is also illuminated. It’s uncertain if this particular feature will make it to the production XM.

    The grille flows up into a prominent power dome on the bonnet, although the concept’s air intakes have been removed. The headlight design seems similar to those spied on the next-generation 7 Series and facelifted X7.

    The side of the XM prototype is still extensively covered with camouflage, but we can see conventional door handles rather the integrated ones on the concept. The steeply-raked beltline from the Concept XM has been retained.

    Dotted around the prototype are ‘Hybrid Test Vehicle’ stickers, indicating its fire-breathing PHEV powertrain.

    Around the back the prototype retains the Concept XM’s stacked trapezoidal exhaust tips, which BMW promises will produce an “emotionally rich M-typical soundtrack”.

    Although it’s hard to tell with all the disguise, the tail lights still appear to be the hook-shaped units seen on the Concept XM as a bulging housing extends around the side of the prototype.

    We are yet to see the production-version XM’s interior although its expected to boast a curved display area for digital instrument cluster and infotainment screen, like those used in the iX and i4.

    The Concept XM has front seats covered in rich brown, vintage-look leather, as well as vertical air vents for the centre stack, and a sculpted and illuminated headliner with ambient lighting.

    At the rear, the concept’s seats feature quilted velvet, and are paired with deep-pile carpeting including a diamond pattern.

    It’s uncertain how many of these interior features will carry over to the production BMW XM.

    At this stage, the XM’s primary focus is the US market, although it is on the local division’s mind.

    In November 2021 a BMW Australia spokesperson said, “The BMW M brand and BMW X range are highly significant to Australia – one in five BMWs sold here wear an M badge and BMW X vehicles represent more than 60 per cent of our total sales volume.

    “With that in mind, the BMW Concept XM has immediate appeal for our market. If the production model is made available to us, we will definitely offer it to our customers.”

    Click the images to view the full gallery

    MORE: BMW Concept XM revealed, Australian plans unconfirmed

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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