BMW XM Label Red review: seeing red

Damien O’Carroll
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  • Brutal performance with the sound to match
  • Surprisingly agile for something so big
  • Surprisingly luxurious for an M car
  • It is utterly enormous
  • Some of the interior bling is a bit much
  • The looks are somewhat polarising...

The BMW XM the biggest, baddest BMW on the block and only the second bespoke M car since the original M1 from 1978. And it is a plug-in hybrid, capable of travelling up to 83 kilometres on electricity alone.

Is that enough to have the purists screaming yet? Well, how about this then - it is also an SUV. Yep, figured that would do it.

The label Red edition goes all-in on the red part. Don't say "lipstick on a pig"...

The XM Label Red edition is also one of the biggest, baddest SUVs you can buy, at a rather staggering $340,900, but that money also gets you some other rather staggering numbers as well; namely 550kW and 1000Nm, which combine to propel the big XM to 100km/h from a standing start in just 3.8 seconds.

Yes, this is a car that weighs 2795kg and will hit the open road speed limit faster than an M3 Competition

Anyone who complains about BMW's grilles getting bigger should look away now.

Packing the proven 430kW/750Nm 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 that has done duty in a number of fairly potent machines, the XM adds a 25.7kWh battery pack and an electric motor just to make things even more insane.

But while the XM is the most powerful car BMW has ever produced, it is also one of the most luxurious, matching the furious speed and brutal acceleration with a surprisingly supple ride (in comfort mode, at least) and an interior that matches the 7 Series limo. And yes, that also includes some serious rear legroom.

The XM is enormous, and one glance at the length of the rear doors will clue you in as to where most of the size goes and, as a result, the rear seats are superbly roomy and, as expected, equally superbly comfortable. There are even some M-branded cushions back there, although these end up in the rear seat footwells quickly enough after the first bit of aggressive braking…

The XM isn't just about serious performance, there's a lot of luxury jammed in it too.

That roomy and luxurious back seat is the best place to appreciate the sheer theatre that is the XM’s start up procedure, with the LED lights embedded around the outside of the roof lining putting on an M-specific show, bathing the ceiling in the performance brands iconic blue, white and red colours before settling into the colour of your choosing (purple, of course), or even switching colours depending on what drive mode you have it in, much like the rest of the interior ambient lighting.

Styling is, of course, purely a matter of personal taste, but no-one could ever accuse the XM of being “attractive” in a conventional sense. Or any sense, really.

Yes, it is silly and more than a bit excessive, but it is also very cool.

The XM's length is evident in the size of the back doors.

While you can potter around in electric mode with all the silence and serenity of the i7, dropping the XM into one of its sportier modes will have it barking and spitting like a proper M car, thanks to that superb 4.4-litre V8.

When pumping all of its available petrol and electricity into acceleration, the XM is utterly brutal, aggressively punching you back in your seat and bellowing like a particularly testy bear waking up with a headache after a big night out. The acceleration is unrelenting too, as the electric motor and turbo work in harmony filling in for each other when needed, and serving up a huge wave of torque to just keep pushing the big SUV ever forward.

It’s no slouch around the corners either, although you definitely notice its sheer size and weight. I mean, it handles far, far better than anything its size and weight has any business doing, but you still know its a big boy when you start throwing it around.

The traditionally BMW interior also wears quite a bit of red here and there.

Which does beg the question: is this really a proper M car?

If the checklist for your perfect car includes opulent luxury, cutting edge technology and brutal performance, then the XM certainly ticks all the boxes, regardless of how you feel about its looks.

Well, while its size and weight may make that a hard question to answer with a positive, it’s sheer performance certainly makes an emphatic case for it.

Even the charging cable comes in a high quality leather-trimmed carry bag.

As do its utterly outrageous looks. The XM will never be mistaken for anything else on the road, from any angle. It’s huge, gaping grille and savagely angular lights are distinctly BMW, but also utterly unlike anything the company has produced before.

The same goes for the overtly muscular rear haunches and thoroughly ridiculous (ridiculously awesome, that is) vertically stacked quad exhausts, all of which combine with the angular, slab-sided styling to make the iX look positively reserved in comparison.

Styling is, of course, purely a matter of personal taste, but no-one could ever accuse the XM of being “attractive” in a conventional sense. Or any sense, really.

The quad exhausts are stacked vertically on the XM, as opposed to BWW's traditional horizontal layout.

But its sheer unapologetic presence that gives off strong vibes of the controversial brutalist architecture from the 1950s certainly holds strong appeal if you like that sort of thing, particularly in the right colour.

And I would strongly argue that the “right colour” is definitely our test car’s black with red highlights. Particularly for any fan of 1980’s action television shows, specifically ones about a crack commando unit that was sent to prison for a crime they didn't commit, escape and survive as soldiers of fortune while trying to clear their names. I pity the fool who doesn’t get that reference.

But if the checklist for your perfect car includes opulent luxury, cutting edge technology and brutal performance, then the XM certainly ticks all the boxes, regardless of how you feel about its looks.

ENGINE: 4.4-litre petrol V8 with 25.7kWh battery and electric motor POWER: 550kW/1000Nm GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic CONSUMPTION: 1.7l/100km, EV range 83km (WLTP) PRICE: $340,900

How much is the BMW XM Label Red?

The Label Red edition is limited to just 500 examples worldwide and retails for a hefty $340,900. It does add a few more hefty numbers to the standard XM specification as well though. Like power. Lots more power.

What are the key statistics for the BMW XM Label Red?

The BMW XM takes the fantastic 430kW/750Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 and adds electricity to very doo effect. A 25.7kWh battery and an electric motor add roughly a Hyundai i20 N's worth of extra grunt (that is 145kW and 280Nm) for that massive combined total of 550Nm and 1000Nm.

Is the BMW XM Label Red efficient?

BMW claims a combined average fuel consumption of 1.7l/100km for the XM Label Red which is, in theory, very possible to achieve, particularly with a lot of urban running using that healthy 83 kilometre all-electric range. However, while that is nice in theory, you probably won't have the willpower to drive your massively powerful M car sedately all the time, and accessing that serious performance will bump that figure up considerably. Still, even if you treat every stop light like the start of the Monaco Grand Prix, it should still stay in the single digits, which is really rather remarkable.

Is the BMW XM Label Red good to drive?

While it is indeed huge, the XM is surprisingly agile and responsive for something edging close to three tonnes. The steering is nicely accurate, while the big, bulky body is remarkably well controlled. While the full-on sport suspension settings may be a bit firm for our rough roads, backing it off into a softer setting sees things settle nicely. Go even softer and it even manages to be superbly comfortable.

Is the BMW XM Label Red practical?

I mean, it's huge, so yeah. The boot alone swallows a massive 527 litres of cargo with the rear seats up, which balloons to 1820 litres with them down. But while that hugeness brings heaps of interior space and luxury, it does come at a cost when it comes to finding a parking space...

What do we like about the BMW XM Label Red?

The remarkable powertrain that is capable of either utter brutality or silky smooth luxury depending on what you ask of it. The surprisingly agile chassis and seriously good brakes. And, yes, the looks. While the styling is confrontational and divisive - and some of the available colour schemes are truly hideous - the XM looks brutally handsome in black. While the red bits may not be to everyone's tastes, they are optional, so you can plan accordingly. And I love it when a plan comes together.

What don’t we like about the BMW XM Label Red?

It is thoroughly enormous, making it challenging to park. Moreso if you are paranoid about door dings on your $340,000 car and like to park away from the crowds. There will be a lot of walking in your future if that is the case...

What kind of person would the BMW XM Label Red?

Whether it be performance, presence or luxury, the XM provides for someone who wants the ultimate in everything. Or a large muscular man with a mohawk who wears lots of gold and won't let anyone else drive his car. Fool.


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