Safety Cars used to be lightweight coupes or sedans, but times have certainly changed. In stark contrast, the BMW XM now fulfills that role at the 2024 Repco Bathurst 12 Hour as the Safety Car this weekend. The M division has entered into a multi-year arrangement with the race organizers to provide M models, which will serve as the official on-track cars.

It’s a far cry from the low-slung sports cars we’re all accustomed to seeing dressed up as Safety Cars. This two-tone XM represents the midrange version, positioned above the inline-six model and below the XM Label. The plug-in hybrid SUV is sharing the track in Australia this weekend with a couple of cars that embody the M ethos more closely, including the M2 and the M5 Competition.

At the beginning of this month, the electrified luxobarge received the Safety Car treatment with an M livery at the Dubai Autodrome in the United Arab Emirates. Not to be forgotten, the first hybrid M model performed a similar role last month at the Daytona 24 Hours in the United States. Furthermore, a hotter XM Label is set to take on the role of the official 2024 MotoGP Safety Car.

The XM marks the first dedicated M car since the M1, although it’s not a spiritual successor by any stretch of the imagination. BMW did consider the idea of developing an I16 supercar as a follow-up to the mid-engine model from the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, the brand ultimately opted for the safer SUV route. Why? The German premium automaker believes it can achieve higher sales with the XM than with a dedicated sports car, which would’ve been more expensive to develop.

Turning the XM (codenamed G09) into a Safety Car is a great marketing tool, as it enhances the vehicle’s exposure with minimal investments on BMW’s part.

Source: BMW Australia