When the BMW XM launched, it had a problem. Okay, it had a few problems. Looks aside, here was a flagship BMW M SUV that was actually slower from zero-to-sixty than an X5 M Competition. Picture a salesperson trying to explain that to a customer. However, BMW seems to have found a way around that problem. This new XM Label Red gets a significant bump in horsepower but unfortunately, just before the prototype was signed off on, the designers found it.
Instead of the regular XM’s 644 horsepower, the Label Red puts out 738 horsepower and 738 lb.-ft. of torque from the same 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 plug-in hybrid powertrain, just with the wick turned up a touch. This means that the hideous monstrosity you see before you can run from zero-to-sixty in 3.7 seconds, a dead tie with the X5 M Competition (the regular X5 M is now dead) and far from the quickest M-badged vehicle BMW makes. The xDrive-equipped variants of the M3 and M4 wax this thing off the line, to say nothing of the M5 Competition. Awkward.
Well, if the XM Label Red can’t redeem its sins in a drag race, maybe it gets an ultra-focused Nordschleife-tuned chassis calibration to amp up the M in its name. With that in mind, this enormous display of vanity gets six-piston front calipers, adaptive dampers, active anti-roll bars, four-wheel-steering and oh wait, the regular XM gets all of that too. So, no special hardware here. I have the sense that this isn’t going quite the way that BMW planned it.
Alright, so if the XM Label Red doesn’t get any handling bits, surely it gets some extra toys to cement its top-dog status? Think again. Almost everything that’s optional on the regular XM is also optional here, including the Bowers & Wilkins sound system you see above and the M Driver’s Package that raises the top speed to 175 mph. In fact, the one thing that’s thrown in for free is selection from a 50-color palette of what BMW calls Individual paint. A kind gesture, until you realize that BMW did the same thing on the M8 for a while.
The big get other than power for the XM Label Red is, of course, red. BMW slathered some red paint on the grilles, side trims, wheels, and rear bumper, then let some laid-off Metal Mulisha employee go to town on the interior as well. It’s not a great look, so perhaps it’s not surprising that BMW will let customers delete the red exterior accents.
Detailed pricing hasn’t been announced for the XM Label Red, probably because everyone on the internet would keel over laughing. BMW previously claimed an MSRP of more than $185,000 which seems absurd given the sort of excellence you could buy for that sort of money. Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT, anyone?
For the record, I find well-executed performance SUVs entertaining in a good way. Sportier variants of the Porsche Cayenne corner like no SUV should without sacrificing ride quality, while the old Range Rover Sport SVR and Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk offer masterclasses in how to cover pockmarked highway at an astonishing rate. Dare I say, the Alpina XB7 might be the perfect three-row luxury SUV thanks to its sublime ride and Airbus-smooth acceleration.
However, the XM isn’t an Alpina XB7. It’s not a rocket-propelled sofa gliding on magic air suspension. It’s nowhere close to tasteful, something certainly made worse by the sheer ugliness of the regular XM. To be fair, the XM does look better in person, but only in the same way that certain wounds don’t look quite as nasty in person. You could certainly call BMW’s range of performance SUVs diverse, given how it includes one of the best on the market and one of the most vain examples ever conceived.
There’s a chance that history will look back fondly on the XM Label Red but from where I’m sitting, it feels like the result of marketers in Munich sniffing their own hubris. It’s the sort of vehicle that if you see one, you just know you’d never want to invite the owners around to your place for dinner. Basically, expect to see these things roaming the streets of Calabasas by the end of the year.
Please, someone, explain why this is good. We are pro-car and want to see the upside here.
(Photo credits: BMW)
Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.