The X5 M used to be the meanest BMW M SUV money could buy until the XM arrived earlier this year. However, the plug-in hybrid SUV is far more expensive and has a polarizing look without delivering extra performance in the real world, at least according to journalists who were given early access to the dedicated M model. For many people, the X5 M remains the more logical choice, and the recent facelift has only made it more desirable.

The LCI launched a few months ago has returned in a fresh photo gallery of a high-end version finished in Frozen Black, a matte paint from the Individual catalog. It perfectly complements the all-black grille with horizontal bars introduced for the facelifted model, which also gets a slightly bigger badging. A more obvious update is found in the headlights, which have been slimmed down. At the back, the taillights are the same, but their graphics now have an X motif created using fiber optic light guide elements.

It won’t be long until the X5 M Competition will have to face some internal competition coming from the M5 Touring. BMW has confirmed it’ll bring back the super wagon (G99) in 2024 when the sedan (G90) will also be unveiled. Both body styles are expected to outpunch the SUV by offering a little over 700 hp from a plug-in hybrid V8 powertrain borrowed from the XM.

The M division has already said all next-gen models are going to be hybrids, so a next-gen X5 M will also be electrified to some extent. As a matter of fact, the current F95 already has a 48V setup by cramming an electric motor into the eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. While the combustion engine doesn’t have more power than before, this newly added e-motor offers up to 12 hp and 200 Nm (147 lb-ft) for a brief moment. The electric motor gets its juice from a 48V battery mounted in the engine bay.

BMW M has pledged to keep the inline-six and V8 engines until at least the end of the decade, meaning downsizing won’t be happening anytime soon, even though emissions regulations are getting tougher as the years go by. The workaround found by the engineers is to implement a plug-in hybrid setup that will become the norm with upcoming product launches.

Source: BMW