In 1978, BMW debuted its first M model: the M1. It was also the first mid-engined car from the Bavarian manufacturer, sporting a 3.5-litre inline-six engine with a robust (for the time) 270 bhp (201 kilowatts) and 243 pound-feet (329 newton-metres) of torque. More than 40 years later, and BMW is debuting only its second standalone M model: the Concept XM.
While the Concept XM and M1 are technically siblings, these two vehicles couldn't be more different. The XM is a high-riding, V8-powered, plug-in–hybrid crossover with a jaw-dropping 739 bhp (551 kW) and 737 lb-ft (1,000 Nm) on tap. Better yet, this wild concept previews a production version destined to debut in 2022, likely for the 2023 model year.
The XM can theoretically drive up to 30 miles (48 kilometres) on battery power alone with help from the newly developed M Hybrid drive system. BMW isn’t mentioning specifics like engine displacement, battery size, or straight-line speed, but you can imagine it gets to 60 in well under four seconds.
Style-wise, the Concept XM looks unlike any BMW we've seen, highlighted by two huge kidney grille pieces on the front end. These are among the largest kidney grilles on a BMW to date, concept or not. The oversized grille frames feature illuminated surrounds that give it a unique presence at night, with slim LED headlights split into two separate modules living on either side.
Massive 14-spoke, 23-inch wheels adorn each corner – again, the biggest on any BMW – while triangular quad-exhaust tips line the rear bumper. The ultra-slim LED taillights extend out from the edge of the boot lid and onto the rear quarter panels, while the rear glass features a unique wedge-shaped design that sees two BMW roundels etched into each corner of the glass – a subtle callback to the M1’s pair of badges on its flying buttresses.
The inside of the XM is just as polarising as the exterior – but prettier, in our opinion. The driver-focused cockpit combines vintage-look brown leather with copper and carbon fibre accents to create an absolutely stunning place to sit. And the latest version of iDrive 8 adorns the dash with a massive curved interface, looking as good as ever.
The second row creates a lounge-like experience for the two rear passengers with an aquamarine-coloured, diamond-stitched velvet bench seat. That's right, velvet. On top of that, the headliner features a unique three-dimensional prism structure that's fully illuminated, producing an interior light show when combined with the ambient LEDs, which glow in all three BMW M colours.
The BMW Concept XM is just a concept for now, but we’ll see the production version sometime next year. Pricing, of course, isn’t available, but we doubt the XM will be cheap - at least £100,000.