The first bespoke M car in 45 years is an SUV like no other with mind-bending looks and savage performance.

Judicious use of the throttle. That’s our recommendation when familiarising yourself with the first bespoke BMW M car since the Giugiaro-designed M1 supercar. You need only tickle the loud pedal to step away briskly and if your right foot lacks sensitivity, this 740 horsepower, 1000Nm XM is not the beast for you.

True to M form – and despite its huge dimensions and 2800kg weigh – the XM will always do the business when you demand a thunderous burst of acceleration or need to pummel the road between points A and B. But it requires plenty of space and time to display its full repertoire of performance tricks. It also requires battery charge for the M modes that are accessible by red buttons either side of the steering wheel, so our second recommendation is to charge the 25.7kWh battery whenever depleted.

BMW applies the 4.4-litre petrol V8 to several performance models and in different states of tune. This is the full monty, served as a plug-in hybrid, with the big battery and electric motor inflating the torque curve. Close-quarters manoeuvring is always silent and, in theory, you can enjoy about 80km of electric-only travel. For the record, the engine sounds like a potent V8 from the driver’s seat, especially in sporting modes, but one suspects emissions-curbing has taken some bite from the bark. And don’t expect relaxed cruising with so much firepower in the arsenal. The air suspension does its best to iron out poor surfaces but the vast tyres and stiff suspension make themselves felt on smooth motorways.

Few car designs polarise opinion to the same degree as the XM. No, it’s certainly not attractive, but the design is a bold statement in keeping with the terrific performance. It’s also distinctively BMW, despite standing proud of anything else in Munich’s SUV line-up. Whatever your thoughts, it will remain a very rare sight on the road, and this Red Label car is one of 500 produced.

Passengers terrified by the massive grille, vents and stacked quad exhausts will find the limo-like cabin much more agreeable. It’s also bespoke, of course, and appears most impressive at night when ambient blue, red and white lighting illuminates the geometric patterns in the headlining. The front seats are suitably sporting but everything else shouts high-end luxury and high-technology. And extreme comfort with rear-seat space and legroom on a par with a 7-series.
The most desirable BMW model of all? Possibly not, but a towering achievement all the same.



ENGINE 4395cc twin-turbo V8 plus electric

POWER 550kW @ 6000rpm

TORQUE 1000Nm from 1800rpm

TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN all-wheel drive

WEIGHT 2795kg

LENGTH 5.10m

WHEELS 22-inch alloy

TYRES 275/40 (f) 315/35 (r)

0-100km/h 3.8 secs

FUEL CLAIM 1.7L/100km

PRICE From $340,900


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