Electrification isn’t just for efficiency and emissions. It’s also for performance, a fact highlighted by the BMW XM you see here. It’s the German automaker’s first standalone M-branded machine since the venerable M1 coupe, and that means it carries some awfully heavy expectations. 

Let’s get the specs out of the way. A 483-horsepower V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology and a 194-hp electric motor that’s integrated into the eight-speed automatic transmission team up to provide a maximum of 644 hp at 5,400 rpm and 590 pound-feet of torque between 1,600 and 5,000 rpm to all four wheels. You’ll surely note that 644 is less than the max combined output of each powerplant, which we figure is likely because they don’t necessarily spin out those max figures at the same exact time. In any case, it’s a lot of ponies and around the figure we’d been expecting, but quite a bit less power overall than the Concept XM from 2021 that previewed this production car. But wait! After the XM’s initial launch in the first quarter of 2023, a more powerful BMW XM Label Red will debut in the summer that boost output to “over 735 bhp and 735 lb-ft of torque.” It will also get unique paint, wheels, upholstery and trim.

The electric motor is smaller than typical for the amount of torque it sends to the wheels. BMW explains that it created a “pre-gearing stage” that sounds like a reduction gear to increase the motor’s torque figure. Using launch control, the BMW XM can go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, but buyers who opt for the optional M Driver’s Package unlock a bit more at 168. BMW expects the plug-in XM to be able to drive around 30 miles on electricity alone courtesy of its 25.7-kilowatt-hour battery pack, and the top speed in pure electric mode is 87 mph. Max charging tops out at 7.4 kW, which BMW says can replenish an empty pack in 3.25 hours.

The rear-biased all-wheel-drive system can send all of the XM’s power to the front or rear axle as needed. The driver can choose between the default Hybrid, Electric or eControl (which sustains the battery charge while driving) modes. The xDrive system defaults to 4WD mode but can also be set to 4WD Sport or 4WD Sand modes. An M Sport electronic locking rear differential, electromechanical active roll stabilization and Integral Active Steering (which operates all four wheels) are a few more of the high-tech goodies designed to make this one blazing fast SUV.

We’ve left the car’s design until the end, because, well, we’re sure it’s going to be divisive and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Plus, we already knew what to expect, having previously seen the concept and several factory-supplied “spy” shots. The boxy shape riding on 23-inch wheels is certainly unlike anything else on the road, so all the people complaining that SUVs all look the same these days can no longer make that claim. The light-up grilles look like no kidneys we’ve ever seen in the wild, but certainly look capable of moving lots of fresh air into the underhood compartment. Inside, BMW swathes surfaces in various leather options that includes Vintage Coffee Merino skins and Alcantara. The dash is dominated by BMW’s Curved Display and the latest iDrive 8 software.

Pricing will start at $159,995 and surely rise quickly from there. The Label Red will cost “over $185,000” when it goes on sale next summer.

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