Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring


WATCH: BMW XM perfect for Batman when he commits to parenthood

Like the Batmobile, this otherworldy SUV fits right into the confines of Gotham City.


When one of my wife’s colleagues saw the BMW XM The Citizen Motoring had on test recently, she hit the nail on the head so accurately that we have to admit there is no better way to describe this otherworldly styled SUV. Especially when clad in black paintwork, like our tester.

She said that when Batman settles down and has … little bats … then this is what he would trade his Batmobile in for. As she demanded to get credit for it, we duly note and thank you for your artistic input, Elizma Keyter.

Watch BMW XM in action

After that, it was hard to separate Bruce Wayne’s alter ego from this truly unique car. Gotham City is a surreal place and the BMW XM would fit right into that fictional comic book establishment.

The extravagant styling, highlighted by the “Iconic Glow” illuminated kidney grille, similar to a concept on display at an international motor show, is exactly what BMW set out to achieve. For the German carmaker it is important in the overall scheme of things, as it is a pioneer in the development of electrification of M products.

ALSO READ: 480 kW BMW XM just a glimpse of things to come

It is the first car since the iconic M1 that was entirely M developed, designed as both an SUV and hybrid and it therefore rides on a bespoke platform.

Plug-in powertrain

Apart from its plug-in hybrid powertrain, it comes fitted with plenty of technology, like adaptive M suspension, M Sport differential, M-tuned integral active steering, 48-volt active roll stabilisation system and electronic active roll control anti-roll bars.

BMW XM rear
The BMW XM is one seriously cool-looking car. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

If you think that was a mouthful, see if you can read through its drivetrain specifics without blinking.
Under the bonnet, the M hybrid drive system combines BMW’s familiar 4.4-litre turbocharged V8 petrol engine with a 145 kW/280 Nm electric motor, hooked up to 25.7-kWh lithium-ion battery.

The two combined produce 480 kW of power and 800 Nm of torque sent to all four wheels via the eight-speed Steptronic transmission.

You can configure the drive to your liking via two M mode buttons, while three operating modes allow you to choose where the power is coming from.

ALSO READ: Sci-fi styled production BMW XM officially revealed

Decent electric range

It features an all-electric range of around 80 kilometres. And because the XM’s engine makes no sound when driving purely on electricity, it should be perfect to sneak up on those pesky Gotham criminals that keep Batman up at night.

Even with load shedding, the BMW XM’s battery should be replenished left in a standard wall plug through the night. The battery can also be charged up to 80% by the internal combustion engine, although this exercise can see it sip around 15 litres of petrol per 100 km.

BMW XM interior
Maybe more Superman than Batman, but superhero nonetheless. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

BMW claims the XM will sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds, but road test editor Mark Jones managed to clock a best run of 4.07 seconds at Gerotek. This is an excellent time for a beast weighing 2 665kg – and the second fastest BMW SUV Mark has tested, after the X5 M Competition which ran a time of 3.83 seconds.

Easy to drive fast

The XM’s mighty powertrain and all the fancy drive systems combine to offer a truly exhilarating ride; one that is so easy to operate it does make you feel like a bit of a superhero, which is a bad thing if you can’t show the metro cops a licence with a picture of Bruce Wayne on it.

ALSO READ: Know the PHEVs from the BEVs in Volvo’s new energy repertoire

Inside, the XM is even more surreal than its exterior. Instead of a sunroof, the inside roof features a three-dimensional prism lit up by what BMW calls distinctive ambient lighting.

The exclusive red vintage leather interior in our tester probably leaned more towards another fella who wears his underpants over his superhero suit, but it fitted the car like a glove in all its extrovert glory.

BMW XM rear seats
What little bat won’t be comfortable in the back of the BMW XM? Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

Surreal interior

The front seats are as sculpted as you’d expect from a “pukka” M car, the rear seat has little comfort pillows and is plusher than a luxury lounge suite.

Needless to say, a full house of creature comforts come standard throughout the cabin.

It might cost a cool R3.4 million but those who can afford it will probably do it just because they can – and because there is no cooler way to drop their little critters off at school in the morning.

BMW XM test results

Read more on these topics

BMW Road Tests SUV

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits