• Super interior fit and finish
    • Powertrain combination works a treat
    • Incredible presence anywhere it goes
    • Looks are not for all
    • Ride can be a little harsh
    • The most expensive BMW you can buy

    The very upper end of the premium SUV market is a very lucrative place to be if you are a manufacturer.

    Mercedes-Benz has been making serious bank with the G-Wagen for years, so much so that it has turned the once military-grade rugged off-roader into the envy of every soccer mum.

    BMW has of course, had many high-end SUVs in the past, with the X5, X6 and X7 with their M derivatives. Still, it has never had something to truly put up against not just the iconic G-Wagen but also the likes of the Lamborghini Urus, Aston Martin DBX and perhaps even – though less likely given the price disparity – Ferrari’s new Purosangue SUV.

    There’s a lot to be said about the plug-in hybrid twin-turbo V8 BMW XM with supercar levels of performance, and you can see an excellent breakdown of its exterior details and all the bits that stand out in our video below.

    Ultimately though, the design and engineering brief for the XM was to bring to life an SUV that would attract those who want to stand out, and if you think of that as the car’s primary purpose, then it has nailed it.

    WATCH: Paul’s video review of the XM

    But while you stand out in a Lamborghini, Aston Martin or Ferrari for reasons that BMW cannot compete with head-on, do you really want to stand out in an XM? Initially, our answer to this question was a resounding no, but after two months of driving an XM, it changed our mind.

    Call the exterior design whatever you want, but it’s definitely not dull. It’s not just another BMW with a big grille; this is a power play by BMW and only the second car ever to be an M-only model, after the M1 from the 1970s.

    The vehicle we are testing here is also no ‘standard’ XM, it’s actually the XM Label Red Edition, which not only ups the power but also attempts to bring an added level of exclusivity to an already exclusive car, with only 500 of these being made in the world – which explains its asking price of $349,900 before on-road costs.

    To put yourself in the prospective buyer’s mind, this is not for a one-car household. Likely, there are a few exotics in the garage, another daily, and the primary family car is high-end, but now the kids have grown up a bit. Times are good, so why not get something that is not ‘just another G-Wagen or Urus’, given half the neighbourhood already has one or the other?

    We spent a few weeks with the regular XM and a solid month with the XM Label Red to see if BMW has managed to produce a vehicle that ticks the sort of box one has when money is of little concern and the very best is the only requirement.

    The first aspect of the XM ownership experience is realising that this car will turn a lot of heads. Apart from the i8, modern BMWs don’t have that effect on the average person these days, but the XM – especially in Label Red guise – is a massive head-turner.

    No matter where it went in Brisbane, the XM stood out not just for being so incredibly large and vulgar but also because there are so few of them around. Only 150 of these were sold in 2023 Australia-wide, and in January 2024, only five XMs were delivered. In that same period, three Urus and Purosangues were sold respectively, as well as four DBXs .

    So there is no denying the XM has a level of exclusivity that rivals the exotics. In contrast, Mercedes-Benz sold 31 G-Wagens last month and 394 for 2023.

    How does the BMW XM compare?
    View a detailed breakdown of the BMW XM against similarly sized vehicles.

    How much does the BMW XM cost?

    2024 BMW XM pricing:

    • BMW XM: $297,900
    • BMW XM Label Red: $344,200
    • BMW XM Label Red Edition: $349,900

    If you are going for a Label Red, you really should go for the Edition for the extra $5700 while the 30 (of the 500 globally) that are coming to Australia are still available.

    With a sticker price of $349,900 before on-roads, the XM Label Red Edition is about as exclusive as a BMW as you can buy today.

    What is the BMW XM Label Red like on the inside?

    The standard XM is already loaded with what is undeniably the best interior of any car that has come out of Munich. It may be a bit of an outlandish brut from the outside, but it’s a big softy on the inside.

    The Red Label takes the standard XM even further with more use of bespoke material and features; like Fiona Red Merino leather upholstery as well as red- and blue-accented carbon-fibre interior trim.

    It’s immediately apparent that the XM is aimed at that upper end of the customer base we described before. This is not your standard BMW, and while it does have some part sharing across the model line-up, it’s trying to wet the appetite of those looking at something like a Bentley Bentayga but wanting something with a more sporty character.

    In many respects, BMW has tried to create an interior that is more akin to the Rolls-Royce Cullinan (a brand BMW owns) and Bentley Bentayga while offering the sporty driving character of an Urus.

    While it’s not entirely on the same level as the two British ultra-luxury manufacturers (nor does it cost as much), the cabin is stunning on its own right.

    The use of super high-quality leather could quickly remind one of a gorgeous Italian couch or other high-end furniture. Interestingly, the kids absolutely loved the rear seats, or what BMW calls the M Lounge – interestingly despite the enormous size of the car, the middle rear seat has a shorter base.

    There was always a sense of excitement for any passengers getting into the XM, given the lighting, the high quality of any surface you can see or touch, and perhaps most importantly, the roof!

    BMW has made a big call and ditched the potential for a glass roof and replaced it with a 3D-effect roof with ambient lighting, which you can’t help but touch. It’s futuristic and modern, but we aren’t sure it will age well.

    Also, given just how big the car is and how stunning a full glass roof would look, we would love to challenge the engineers to make that 3D artwork somehow fold away so they could offer the best of both worlds.

    The seating position for the driver is superb. There are not many super sporty cars that are ideal for doing a cross-country drive, but the XM has you positioned so that you are looking over the road while sitting in extreme comfort. If you drive a lot, this is one solid reason to pick this over the G-Wagen or Urus.

    From a technology perspective, the XM has all that BMW has to offer, projected via a combination of a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster backed up by a head-up display and a 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay. The system is fast, crisp and very capable.

    It integrates very well – like all BMWs – with CarPlay so your navigation is also displayed on the HUD even though it’s from Apple and not the native system.

    There are USB-C ports in the centre console and seat backs, rear air vents with dedicated climate controls, and luxe touches like M-branded pillows to really let your passengers know they’re in for a treat.

    The 1500-watt Bowers and Wilkins sound system also needs to be heard to be appreciated. We did find ourselves, on numerous occasions, simply sitting in the car in the garage, waiting for the song to finish.

    Claimed boot space in the XM is 527 litres – some of it is taken up by the charging cable the plug-in hybrid system requires.

    What’s under the bonnet?

    Where the regular XM makes 480kW of power and 800Nm of torque, the Label Red packs 550kW and 1000Nm. That’s mainly due to a more powerful V8 engine with 430kW and 750Nm, up 120kW/100Nm over the standard XM’s engine.

    This makes the XM Label Red the most powerful BMW M car ever sold in Australia, though it’s not the fastest – despite the 0-100km/h time being slashed from 4.3 seconds to just 3.8 seconds. BMW says the XM will have a pure electric range of 83km, but our testing suggests you’d get about 70 and that’s if you really try.

    Official fuel economy figures are a ludicrous 1.7 litres per 100km with its 25.7kWh battery fully charged. This is a nonsense figure because if you actually intend to use the glorious V8 engine, that fuel figure will quickly climb into the 18-20L/100km – and so it should, you didn’t buy an EV.

    Something that is a little puzzling about the XM is the fact that you can’t fast-charge its battery. Using the supplied Type 2 charger, the battery can be charged at a maximum speed of 7.4 kW (AC), which means it will take about 4 hours 15 minutes to charge the battery from flat.

    The idea would be that you would come home or go to work each day, plug it in, and it would recharge during the day or overnight, and that would be the end of it.

    Since most people do not drive more than 80km in a day (or even 50km), there is a very likely probability that you will run this car in pure EV mode the absolute majority of the time – unless of course, you want to appreciate the fact that you paid $350,000 for a twin-turbo V8 monster.

    We thought the lack of fast-charging capability would be something that would annoy us, but realistically it’s not an issue if you own the vehicle and will make no material difference as it would just plugged in at home.

    How does the BMW XM Label Red drive?

    The BMW XM – Label Red or not – is like a highly customisable video game.

    There are so many options for how you would like the combination of the engine and battery to behave. Do you want it to be pure electric? Recharge the battery (albeit slowly and inefficiently)? Go all out with maximum performance? Or there are a bunch of options somewhere in the middle of those extremes.

    Then there’s the suspension, steering and whatever else you can think of. Sometimes, it’s best to just leave that all alone, get in and let the car do its thing.

    It defaults to Hybrid mode, and despite being a pure M car the XM makes use of its electric motor below 140km/h a lot more than we initially expected, which means that you can literally drive around in pure EV mode for the majority of your ownership life.

    Unless you demand peak performance or press the M button(s), it’s unlikely most trips will need the 4.4-litre V8 at all.

    The powertrain is mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a rear-biased M xDrive all-wheel drive system. There’s an electronically controlled locking rear differential too.

    If you mess around with the settings enough, you can get it to behave pretty like a rear-wheel drive car, which is surprisingly fun in a car this big – you can definitely get it to slide around a bit without losing the rear.

    Yes, the XM is fast, but it doesn’t blow you away with its performance or outright speed compared to its competitors. It’s trying to be so many things simultaneously that it’s hard to know what it actually wants to be.

    It has a ballistic powertrain, but it’s not exactly a huge step above an X5 M or X6 M – thanks in large to its power-to-weight ratio – and not a patch on the Urus by any stretch; it’s more alike to a DBX707, but then the XM lacks a bit of finesse in terms of ride comfort.

    That’s really the XM’s biggest drawback; the ride quality can be a little harsh if you frequent poor-quality roads. It’s a car made for Germany’s perfect autobahns, and although we didn’t mind it too much around inner-city Brisbane, it’s noticeable as you start to head out of town and come across some less loved roads.

    Some have called the ride harsh and unbearable, and that’s nonsense – it’s merely just a little firm, and it becomes noticeable primarily because you are sitting in this cabin of opulence. The Urus is no better, but it escapes the criticism because it’s an outright sports car.

    You can go for the 23-inch wheels, but we really would not recommend that; the 22s are a better option, and you will be a happier customer in the long run.

    The beauty and uniqueness of the BMW is that it’s not an EV… and it’s just a crazy fast super sport SUV (but can be).

    After two months with two XMs of differing power outputs, we can safely say you’ll never be bored of driving BMW’s greatest and latest creation.

    It has a great sense of dual purpose, being an EV for sort distances that can transport the family around town in near silence (minus the manufactured sound which you can mess around with), to going into full M mode and having a solid blast around some twisty roads.

    It’s important to know though, that while it does both things well, it’s not brilliant at either. If you want a super relaxing SUV, then go for a Bentayga; if you want a mega sporty SUV, pick the Urus. The XM sits in the middle, making perfect sense to some but not all.

    What do you get?

    XM Label Red highlights:

    • 22-inch light-alloy wheels
      • Jet Black with Solid Jet Black burnished finish
    • High-gloss Shadowline
      • Side accent band
      • Kidney grille frame
      • Rear diffuser insert
    • BMW Individual metallic paint
    • BMW Iconic Glow illuminated grille surround
    • Adaptive M suspension Professional
    • Active Roll Control
    • Integral Active Steering
    • Six-piston, fixed-caliper front brakes
    • Single-piston, floating-caliper rear brakes
    • Tyre pressure monitoring
    • Hands-free power tailgate
    • M Multifunction front seats
    • Merino leather upholstery in Black/Fiona Red
    • Carbon-fibre interior trim, red and blue M accents
    • Ventilated, massaging, power-adjustable front seats incl. memory
    • Heated front, rear seats
    • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
    • 14.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system
    • 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
    • Head-up display
    • Gesture control
    • Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
    • DAB digital radio
    • 20-speaker 1500W Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound
    • Wireless phone charger
    • BMW Digital Key Plus
    • BMW IconicSounds Electric
    • Gesture control
    • Soft-close doors
    • Keyless entry and start
    • Wireless phone charger
    • Four-zone climate control
    • Rain-sensing wipers
    • Heated and cooled front cup holders
    • Travel & Comfort System
    • Heat Comfort Pack

    XM Label Red Edition adds:

    • 22-inch light-alloy wheels (Jet Black with Red accent)
    • M compound braking system with red high-gloss callipers
    • Toronto Red kidney frame surround and rear diffuser insert

    Options: $NCO

    • 23-inch light-alloy wheels
      • Jet Black with Solid Jet Black burnished finish
    • 23-inch light-alloy wheels
      • Night Gold accent, Black with Night Gold burnished finish
    • M compound braking system with black high-gloss calipers
    • Toronto Red side accent band

    BMW says more than 50 BMW Individual paint finishes will be available on the Label Red, including Urban Green, Petrol Mica metallic, Anglesey Green metallic, and Sepia metallic.

    Is the BMW XM Label Red safe?

    The BMW XM is too niche to have been tested by any safety authority; however, given just about every BMW of late are five-star rated, and this is a big monster, we suspect it’s ultra-safe.

    Standard safety equipment includes:

    • Autonomous emergency braking
    • Front and rear cross-traffic alert
    • Blind-spot monitoring
    • Driving Assistant Professional
      • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
      • Steering and Lane Control Assistant
      • Automatic speed limit assist
    • Parking Assistant Plus
      • Reversing Assistant
      • Front and rear parking sensors
      • 3D surround-view camera

    How much does the BMW XM Label Red cost to run?

    All BMWs sold in Australia are backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

    BMW will include a five-year BMW Service Inclusive package with the XM, so it’s free to own minus the fuel and consumables.

    CarExpert’s Take on the BMW XM Label Red

    The Label Red Edition is a limited-run model, with just 500 vehicles to be produced globally and with just 30 of these coming to Australia, there is no other car you can buy from BMW right now that offers that level of exclusivity.

    It’s also the most expensive BMW you can buy, and with its near-$400,000 price tag (once on-road costs are added in), there are a few other options from a range of manufacturers that also present as viable choices.

    Nonetheless, the BMW is the only one that’s able to blend electrification and super high performance. It doesn’t necessarily do either of these two perfectly, but it has found a happy medium that will please plenty of buyers.

    If you can argue your BMW dealer down a little on price, it starts to make a lot more sense. It’s definitely not ‘another G-Wagen or Urus’ at the school pickup, while having arguably more presence than both. This in itself is a good enough reason to put it on your shopping list before you go for something else.

    BMW has definitely thrown everything at the XM, and given it comes with the lot with no need to tick any expensive options, it’s definitely worth a look if you’re shopping at this end of the SUV market.

    Click the images for the full gallery

    MORE: Everything BMW XM

    Alborz Fallah

    Alborz is the founder of CarAdvice (sold to Nine and now Drive) and co-founder of CarExpert. He is an honourary adjunct professor & entrepreneur in residence at the University of QLD. He loves naturally-aspirated V8s, V10s and V12s and is in denial about the impending death of the internal combustion engine.

    Overall Rating

    Cost of Ownership10
    Ride Comfort7
    Fit for Purpose8.5
    Handling Dynamics8.2
    Interior Practicality and Space8.5
    Fuel Efficiency8.5
    Value for Money7.5
    Technology Infotainment8.8
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