2023 BMW XM review

The BMW XM is an outrageously powerful plug-in hybrid SUV, which has been developed by the brand's M performance division...

BMW XM front

On sale Spring 2023 | Price from £148,060

If you're the sort of person who thinks bigger is better, the new BMW XM plug-in hybrid is likely to appeal. Developed by the brand's M performance division, it's not only physically big, at just over 5.1m long, but has the most power and the largest price tag of any BMW SUV to date.

It's certainly an imposing looking thing, retaining the angular lines and squared-off wheelarches of the XM concept. What’s more, you get the concept’s ultra-slim LED headlights, with these flanking a split front grille that takes up so much real estate it might as well have its own postcode.

The grille even has gold outer edges and illuminated inner edges to make doubly sure you don’t miss it (in case you’re looking at it from space, perhaps).

BMW XM front grille

Behind it sits a 4.4-litre V8 engine that works with an electric motor to produce a combined 644bhp – enough for 0-62mph in 4.3sec. Or, alternatively, you can run purely on electric power for up to 55 miles (officially) and at speeds of up to 87mph, with a full charge of the 25.7kWh (usable capacity) battery taking 4.25 hours.

To put those numbers into context, the rival Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid is slightly quicker, hitting 62mph in 3.8sec, but it can manage only 25 miles on electric power between charges. And while the Cayenne's battery can be topped up in less time, that’s only because it's smaller; both cars have the same 7.4kW maximum charging speed.

What’s it like to drive?

In the default Hybrid driving mode (there are others that prioritise zero emissions running or reserving battery power for a later point in your journey) the XM pulls away more or less silently. It's only when you put your foot down that the V8 explodes into life, sounding suitable ferocious.

BMW XM rear

Unfortunately, while it's an engine that's eager to rev, it can be hard to judge how much you need to depress the accelerator because of the inconsistent way in which the car responds – especially from low speeds.

That's far from ideal in such a powerful car, but the XM does offer the sort of exceptional body control you'd want, keeping lean to a minimum in corners.

You also get steering that's crisp and accurate, particularly when you switch to one of the sportier driving modes (something that's easily done via the red M buttons on the steering wheel). However, it doesn't offer as much feedback as the Cayenne's, and that car also feels more playful in bends.

BMW XM nose

This would be fine if the XM rode more comfortably than its rival, but it doesn't. Instead, it never really settles, even when you put the adaptive suspension in comfort mode.

We can't help thinking that the XM would be a more rounded car if in this instance M division had put aside its usual aversion to air suspension.

What's it like inside?

The XM isn't available as a seven-seater, unlike the smaller BMW X5 and similar-sized BMW X7. Instead, it provides palatial space for five, plus a decent boot – although the 527-litre capacity of this doesn’t compare favourably with the 645 litres of the Cayenne.

BMW XM dashboard

Still, be in no doubt that BMW knows how to craft a special interior. Leather and soft Alcantara sit alongside genuine metal detailing, plus there isn't a stitch out of place, and the contoured roof panel changes colour with the driving mode.

On top of all this, BMW's infotainment system is more user-friendly than Porsche's, with most functions controllable by the touchscreen, voice commands and a physical dial between the front seats, with the latter particularly useful for minimising distraction on the move.

From the summer, occupants will even be able to access video-on-demand services on the central display to help them pass the time when the car is parked up – for example, during a stop to charge the battery.

Our verdict

The BMW XM offers rapid performance, a long electric range, and a gorgeous, user-friendly interior. However, it's good to drive rather than great, which is disappointing given the price you're paying. And it doesn't compensate for this shortcoming by offering a particularly comfortable ride.

We'd still recommend the Porsche Cayenne, then, if you're after a fast and luxurious hybrid SUV. Or, alternatively, if you're willing to forego the hybrid part and can push your budget even higher, consider Aston Martin's DBX707.

What Car? rating 3 stars out of 5

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Price £148,060 Engine V8, 4395cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol, plus electric motor Power 644bhp at 5400-7200rpm Torque 590lb ft at 1600-5000rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic, 4WD 0-62mph 4.3sec Top speed 155mph Fuel economy 252.8mpg (combined) Electric range 55 miles CO2/tax 18g/km, 8%

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