2022 marked BMW M’s 50th anniversary and the year we finally got a new dedicated M car. However, it wasn’t the mid-engine M1 supercar’s spiritual successor enthusiasts had hoped for, but rather yet another SUV. Positioned above the X5/X6 M, the XM was unveiled in late September 2022. Less than seven months later, in mid-April 2023, an even more powerful version was introduced.

Originally called XM Label Red before dropping the last word, the high-performance SUV is BMW’s most potent production car ever. It has an astounding 738 hp and 737 lb-ft (1,000 Nm) instead of the regular XM’s 644 hp and 590 lb-ft (800 Nm). Speaking with Top Gear magazine, M CEO Frank van Meel admitted the Label’s launch was rushed as BMW should’ve introduced the hotter variant later in the life cycle.

The mayor of M Town told the British journalists this is why XM’s sales haven’t been great thus far. In the first nine months of the year, BMW sold 4,450 units globally. The electrified SUV’s biggest markets are projected to be the United States and China with half of the demand. The British magazine calls it the “fail of the year” and “2023’s worst car.” They also claim the XM is proof people won’t automatically buy a vehicle just because it has the roundel, even though dealers in the United States are allegedly offering $10,000 discounts.

“BMW M Division boss Frank Van Meel is defiant. He tells TopGear.com the reason the XM hasn’t done the numbers is because BMW made a bit of a cock-up. The mistake? Revealing the 750bhp XM ‘Label Red’ too soon. Turns out anyone who wants the most offensive SUV possible isn’t happy to settle for the boggo version once they know there’s an even more tasteless spec waiting in the wings.”

Let’s face it, the XM was never really going to be popular. With a starting price of $159,000 for the standard model and $185,000 for the Label, you can’t realistically expect it to top the sales charts. Some markets with high taxes on large-displacement engines also get the cheaper XM 50e with a smaller inline-six plug-in hybrid setup.

The XM is still in its early days on the market and while it’s certainly no M1, that powertrain does point to the future. Next year’s M5 Sedan and M5 Touring will adopt the same hybrid V8 in a less controversial-looking package. All of BMW M’s next-generation M models will be electrified, so the XM is leading the way.

Ideally, the Vision M Next should’ve been the first to get this setup, but the supercar was axed due to prohibitive development costs.

Source: Top Gear