BMW X8 M (BMW XM) rocks a massive grille & falling roof [Update]

TopElectricSUV readers Kurt Muc and Wilco Blok uploaded a video of the BMW X8 M on test in Germany. While some are calling this hybrid SUV the BMW XM, we’ll be using both interchangeably to describe it in this story.

Exterior & Interior

BMW XM hybrid car upcoming
The BMW XM will reportedly be available only in a PHEV form with upwards of 750 PS/740 hp. Image source: Wilco Blok

While some take it as an Audi Q8 challenger, the BMW X8 M is the Bavarian’s answer to the Range Rover Autobiography and Bentley Bentayga. BMW’s former head of development, Klaus Frohlich, had told Autocar UK in 2018 that a product such as the X8 certainly has a market in places like China and that this segment was growing fast.

The BMW X8 M will be the brand’s flagship model, with many reports stating it will be available only as a hybrid. The prototype in question is certainly not hiding its ‘green’ ambitions thanks to the ‘Hybrid Test Vehicle’ sticker on the front door and what we think is a well-camouflaged charging port on the fender.

BMW X8 M or XM rear spy shot
The XM looks quite different from the X7 and isn’t a ‘hack job’ variant. The incoming pinnacle of X range seems to be a proper, high-riding premium SUV-coupe. Image: Wilco Blok & kurt.muc

Our friends at BMWBlog speculate that a posh, upscale look awaits passengers, one that is “dramatically different” from the X7. BMW’s interior designers would give it a top-class feel through refined materials, complete leather upholstery, and different digital screens running a new OS interface (BMW Operating System 8.0), says the BMW expert.

BMW X8 XM rear three quarters rendering
The BMW X8 will likely make heads turn more than any other BMW SAV/SAC model to date. Image Source: Аuto.Mail.ru & Kelsonik

The BMW X8 looks like it will be a large, menacing SUV. Thanks to the split headlamps, the wide and large kidney grille, and the typical BMW M-style front apron, it appears quite menacing. The rear end is not as interesting, but the unique vertically laid quad tailpipes will make the X8 instantly recognizable.

Powertrain & Performance

BMW M CEO Markus Flasch has confirmed plans to launch hybrid BMW M models, including the X SUVs (SAVs and SACs), to Drive – Der Playboy Mobility-Guide. Flasch added that the BMW M line-up will include pure electric models in the future. The X8 M or XM could be the first electrified BMW M model.

The BMW X8 M will come in a standard sub-variant and a Competition sub-variant, as per a report from BMW Blog. The BMW X8 M Competition may have a plug-in hybrid system made of a V8 gasoline engine and an electric motor that delivers a system output of up to 552 kW (750 PS/740 hp). Considering the hybrid BMW SUV’s flagship status, the xDrive AWD system will be standard, while the transmission should be the 8-speed automatic borrowed from the X7. With such a powerhouse under the skin, calling it the ‘BMW XM’ is befitting.

BMW Group has confirmed that M Performance BMWs will come with plug-in hybrid electric powertrains in the future. BMW recently presented the first fully-electric performance vehicle from BMW M, the BMW i4 M50, and the next model, the BMW iX M60, will follow sometime next year. Oliver Zipse, Chairman of BoM, BMW Group, told Auto Zeitung in an interview that “And there will soon also be plug-in hybrids in the BMW M high-performance vehicles.”

According to a report from BMW Blog, ‘BMW X8 M45e’ is the BMW X8 M Performance the company plans to launch. The X8 M45e will have a drive concept similar to that of the BMW 745e (BMW 7 Series plug-in hybrid)’s powertrain. The BMW 745e, for reference, clubs a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder gasoline engine producing 210 kW (286 PS/282 hp) and 450 Nm (332 lb.-ft.) with an electric motor generating 83 kW (113 PS/111 hp) and 265 Nm (195 lb.-ft.). The resulting total power and total torque outputs are 290 kW (394 PS/389 hp) and 600 Nm (443 lb.-ft.), respectively.

Speaking to BMW Australia’s Youtube channel, Flasch provided insight on the electrification at the M division –

We will see the first battery-electric M car performance model ready later this year. We will see high-performance hybrid variants pretty soon, and we will see high-performance battery electric vehicles in a couple of years.

Markus Flasch, CEO at BMW M Division during a chat on Youtube with BMW Australia

“With the large engines, the hybridization makes the most sense and also for the cars they are used in like the M5 and large X models,” he added. In all likelihood, Flasch is talking about the high-performance hybrid model that would be launched as the BMW X8 M or the ‘BMW XM’ as some enthusiasts are referring to it.

BMW X8 M or BMW XM – What would it look like?

BMW X8 M or BMW XM front rendering
Rendering artist Shkelqim’s depiction of the brawny BMW X8 M or BMW XM plug-in hybrid electric SUV coupe. Image Source: Instagram/bmw43__

Above is a speculative rendering of the BMW X8 M PHEV or the BMW XM from Instagram user BMW43_ that looks pretty close to the design observed on test mules. Rocking a split headlamp setup with some BMW iX inspiration, ultra-wide Kidney Grille, chiseled front bumper, edgy ORVMs, and a dip on the hood, the rendered X8 M is noticeably sportier and assertive than the BMW M SUVs on sale today. The availability of a plug-in hybrid system that reduces fuel consumption and provides e-boost during overtakes is icing on the cake.

Features

From the BMW Laserlight headlights that provide visibility of about half a mile to the BMW iDrive 8 (BMW iDrive with BMW Operating System 8) that offers a whole new user experience with a new design language, the XM should pack the best of best features BMW has to offer. According to another report from BMW Blog, the wheel sizes will range from 21 to 23 inches, a rear differential will be standard, carbon-fiber trim will be available, and sport brakes will be available in dark blue, black, and red color options.

Autonomous driving

In the middle of 2023, the company will introduce a self-driving assist feature, possibly some sort of semi-autonomous driving function, as per the report. BMW is working to introduce Level 3 autonomous driving in 2022 on the iX, and models such as the XM should inherit it sooner or later. Currently, it offers Level 2 in the iX and is eyeing a clearer regulator framework for the introduction of the Level 3 autonomous driving system.

Production & Release Date

According to a Bimmerpost thread that lists out the expected start of production dates of new BMW models, the BMW XM (codename: BMW G09) enters production in December 2022. Talking to CNBC’s Phil LeBeau on Squawk Box (via YouTube) in August 2021, Zipse had suggested that BMW Group will reveal its American production plan at the end of 2021. He said:

At the end of the year, we’ll make an announcement to build another high-end car from this manufacturing site (Spartanburg, USA) – brand-new, it’s not existing, it’s not a successor model, it’s a brand-new model, high-end – for the American market but also for the world market.

Oliver Zipse, Chairman of BoM, BMW Group

In 2020, despite the pandemic, Bentley recorded its highest ever sales in history, with the Bentayga seeing as many as 4,145 homes. However, sales of the Range Rover dipped due to the pandemic and production constraints, and the model is long in the tooth, having spent nearly 8 years on the market. BMW couldn’t have hoped for a better time to bring the X8 or XM then.

BMW X8 or BMW XM FAQs

What is the BMW X8 (BMW XM) release date?

The BMW XM will be launched next year, with first customer deliveries likely by early 2023.

What are the rivals to the BMW X8/XM?

The Range Rover Hybrid and Bentley Bentayga are key rivals of the future BMW SUV.

What is the expected price of the BMW XM?

The BMW X8 or XM should have a starting price in the region of 110,000-115,000 USD.

Featured image: Wilco Blok & kurt.muc