The only constant is change and, for better or worse, electrification is coming. Even BMW M knows that.

And to get its hardcore M fans ready for that future, BMW has just unveiled its XM super SUV. It’s a landmark car for M because it is the brand’s first-ever hybrid car. 

The car also has many other distinctions. It’s M’s most powerful car in history too, and it’s heaviest, and the second not to be based on an existing BMW product (after the legendary M1).

So what’s under the hood? We have what M calls an “extensively updated” version of BMW’s tried-and-tested twin-turbo S68 4.4-litre V8. This motor puts out 489hp and 650nm of torque.

And in between the motor and eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is an electric motor that produces 197hp and 280nm of torque.

The car can be driven solely on electric power too. There’s a 25.7kWh stowed somewhere within the vast body which is good for an all-electric range of around 85km and at speeds of up to 140km/h too.

The combined total output is 653hp and 800nm of torque and that’s sent to all four wheels via the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

Tipping the scales at over 2,700kg, the XM isn’t a light car. But with so much power on tap, even this behemoth can get from 0-100km/h in just a little over four seconds. Top speed is an electronically limited 270km/h.

BMW M is well aware that sounds play a big part in the driving experience and it has employed legendary composer Hans Zimmer – who has worked on films like Inception, Interstellar, Dune, and more – to come up with a suitable soundtrack for the electric motor’s power delivery.

That should be very interesting to see.

And if you think this SUV is bonkers, M is adding a new XM Label Red model to the range late next year and that car, which will also feature a hybrid powertrain, will have an insane 748hp and 1000nm of torque.

That will easily make it one of the most powerful SUVs on sale – assuming BMW’s rivals don’t come up with something crazier.

What do you think about the way it looks? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is as the old saying goes, but it is certainly in keeping with BMW’s current design language.

Hybrid SUVs with crazy power figures aren’t exactly new but it is uncharted waters for BMW M and this will likely be a test to see how M fans react to a hybrid car and to the brand’s inevitable new direction as markets all over the world start to phase out the good old internal combustion engine.

Availability and pricing

Production of the BMW XM will begin later this year at BMW’s Spartanburg facility in the US with deliveries expected in spring next year.

Prices will start at US$159,995 (S$224,872). Expect it to cost well over half a million dollars when it arrives on our shores.

This article was first published in HardwareZone.

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