FOR a BMW to breach the million-dollar mark in Singapore, you’d expect something pretty special, especially considering the country’s outrageously blatant tax-happy attitude towards car ownership.
The BMW model that was threatening to break through the seven-digit price barrier was the M8 Coupe ($969,888). Trailing this by some distance is the top-tier i7 Electric model at $787,888.
So, what’s it take for a BMW to smash through this 7-digit mark? For one, it’s a new model. But even so, and thanks to the eye-watering taxes that make up a sizeable chunk of the price of a car in Singapore, how special does it have to be, to be ghosting into the pricy terrain that the BMW-owned Rolls-Royce dominates?
The XM is the new big-boy BMW for those who want presence, muscle and yet desire a level of practicality, while feeling good about doing a small bit to save the planet.
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All at a price, of course. In this case, *$1,016,888.
The XM is the first electrified high-performance model from BMW. Being placed as the jewel atop a rich crown comes with certain expectations.
What gives the XM the right to ride so high?
BMW says the XM is an M original developed with no conceptual baseline. It’s kicking the SAV (sports activity vehicle, or SUV to the plebes…) concept to a new level with a freshly developed M HYBRID drive system that plugs a gap in the current line up.
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Beneath the double-domed bonnet lies a high-revving 4.4-litre V8 engine with M Twin Power Turbo technology to whisk you from standstill to 100kmh in a swift 4.3 seconds. It charges like a stealthy rhino, thanks in part to an electric motor that, when combined with the petrol engine, delivers 480kW of power and 800Nm of torque.
The 50:50 weight distribution and a chassis that is able to deliver comfort as much as exhilaration creates a ride that belies the XM’s size. But, when it comes to city driving, all that power waiting to be unleashed can make for a lurching drive, until you understand the idiosyncrasies of the XM’s behaviour.
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The M Sport brakes offer two pedal feel settings — choose between a more direct execution or opt for that slightly easier on the foot comfortable setting, which can be configured on the setup menu.
Long on features
At over 5m in length, the XM is a long car. It is also the broadest BMW, with unusually wide tracks that result in great roadholding but still offers enough nimbleness to navigate those poorly designed HDB car parks filled with ridiculously tight corners.
The front is dominated by a large kidney grille, gold-rimmed with continuous contour lighting that glows in the dark, along with two sinister gleaming slits for headlamps.
The sculpted bumper with the large air intakes draws the attention to pronounced wheel arches that house huge tyres hugging 23” rims.
The gold is evident again in some of the other trims. You can opt for a glossy black finish if you think this is too flashy, but it’ll add another *$1K to the cost of the car.
A relatively flat back with its own distinct design cues includes two BMW logos on the rear window. The kick function feature to open the boot — one of those features you never knew you needed until it was introduced — isn’t evident in the XM. So if you’re weighed down by pricey luggage that you don’t want touching the road, you’ll be in a bit of a quandary. And to add to the conundrum, the high boot lid may make loading bags or bulky item a bit challenging.
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But once everyone is comfortably in place, the XM comes into its own. The faceted Alcantara roof lining with 100 LED units that create a neat sculpted lighting effect, offers a bit more to look at than usual. And it’s great to sit in the rear, on large diamond-quilted seats with loads of legroom.
USB slots in the rear of the front seats make for easy access to keep your devices powered.
The front offers a look that is reminiscent of more recent BMW models. The iDrive is still in place, which is a good thing since knobs and buttons seem to be on the way out in newer BMW cars for flatter and less tactile interior finishes.
The large display offers loads of information, and it can be a bit of a stretch to reach across, at times. The 12.3” information display and a control display diagonally measuring 14.9” are supplemented by a head up display that provides a lot of useful information.
Gesture control, available in the previous generation of high-end BMWs, allows you to control the excellent Bowers & Wilkins sound system with 20 speakers delivering your preferred style of music.
The driving experience is great with massasge seats, a mix of textures like carbon fibre and soft nappa leather in earthy hues of vintage coffee brown.
There’s a familiarity about the XM that, despite its Citroen model badging (a gentleman’s agreement was reached with the French car manufacturer), is unmistakably BMW.
Do the sum of the parts make for a wonderful and unique whole?
Not quite. Certainly not for the price the XM is being sold.
For a million bucks, I’d expect a whole lot more cutting-edge innovations and dazzling features. Just not feeling it here.