The BMW XM Label Red is the most powerful car BMW has ever put on the road, packing a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 and electric motor that combine for up to 738bhp and 738lb ft.
These figures represent a 94bhp and 148lb ft uplift over the standard BMW XM, owed in part to an upgrade package for the V8. Alone the petrol engine now produces 577bhp and 553lb ft – a significant increase on its usual 483bhp.
Meanwhile, the BMW XM’s electric drivetrain elements – a 25.7kWh battery and a 194bhp, 207lb ft motor – are largely unchanged. A new pre-gearing stage patented by BMW boosts the motor’s torque output (to the gearbox) to a maximum of 332lb ft, but it's unclear whether this is accessible at all times or limited to the launch-control setting.
The added grunt does make for a slight decrease in the BMW XM’s electric-only range, from 51-55 miles to 47-52 miles, but this is still a competitive figure among similarly sized PHEVs.
The upgrades mean the BMW Label Red can dispatch the 0-62mph sprint in 3.8sec, half a second faster than the regular XM. It storms onto a derestricted 180mph in cars fitted with the optional M Driver’s Package or 155mph without it. EV mode limits the car to 87mph.
Power is sent to both axles and split between the two according to demand by an electronic multi-plate clutch, which in 4WD Sport mode increases the amount of power heading rearwards to ape M’s characteristic rear-driven handling dynamics.
A differential on the rear axle is also capable of splitting torque between the left and right wheels as required to “nip understeer in the bud without the need for brake inputs”, while a 48V anti-roll function enhances accuracy and precision in cornering.
The Label Red made its debut at the Shanghai motor show, as BMW acknowledges that China is a key market for the XM (alongside the US and the Middle East).
The XM’s ethos of "on-stage/backstage", meaning the exterior is attention-grabbing and the interior is a cosseting lounge, is amplified in the Label Red. The model receives a series of Toronto Red accents around the front grille and side windows (black is optional), as well as red and black interior trim.
Five hundred Edition examples of the Label Red will be offered with a BMW Individual Frozen Carbon Black metallic paint finish, adding to the SUV’s exclusivity.
The interior layout is otherwise unchanged, with lavishly upholstered leather bucket seats at the front and the M Lounge rear bench with a dedicated infotainment screen, tablet holders and USB-C ports.
Ambient lighting, four-zone climate control and a Harmon Kardon sound system are standard equipment; a 1475W Bowers & Wilkins hi-fi is available as an optional extra.
Orders will be taken from 28 April, with prices starting at £170,860. The standard XM costs £148,060.
Q&A: Frank van Meel, CEO, BMW M
With the XM and the upcoming M2, is the M line-up complete?
“It's more or less complete, I think, and the two acts are the bookends of M. We don't make a high-performance version of every BMW product there is, whereas with the M Performance vehicles, we try to offer one of almost every BMW – unless it’s a multi-purpose kind of product. But for the high-performance Ms, I think this is more or less it. It makes no sense to make any new completely different M vehicles.”
What does the XM mean to M division?
“It expands our product portfolio, which is obvious, but it also expands our customer group. Because we had a customer group missing that was always asking us: ‘You can buy a [Mercedes-Benz] G-Class or you can buy a Lamborghini Urus – these are very bold, extroverted vehicles – and of course, Aston Martin has the DBX. Why is there no M?’. So you can see that all these SUV-like extroverted cars are coming because there’s a huge demand, and we didn't have an answer. So we wanted to create an offer for that customer group, because we had some people wanting to join the family, but they didn’t have the right offer.”
Why not just make an M version of the X7?
“Because the XM is an M-only vehicle we wanted to have. For instance, a G-Class is not a GLE or a GLS. It's a purpose-designed, specific vehicle, and we also wanted to do that. Because in that group, they want something really out of the ordinary. And it should be unique, extroverted and bold. And it should be a statement by itself but also for the ones that drive the car. That was the reason behind the XM.”