When BMW first showed photos of the XM plug-in hybrid super SUV launched to celebrate 50 years of Motorsport, the internet immediately started picking it apart. The main points of contention were its unusual styling, its name, the fact that it was electrified and, of course, the fact that it’s an SUV.

Even the fact that it still had a big V8 under the hood didn’t please the haters, nor did its 653 horsepower and 800 Nm (590 pound-foot) output. There’s going to be an even more powerful Red Label version which will have in excess of 750 horsepower, with peak torque rising to 1,000 Nm (737 pound feet) - these are impressive numbers for an SUV.

Gallery: 2023 BMW XM

But now that the scene has settled down a few months after the BMW XM was first shown online, opinions seem to be changing. The XM is, after all, mainly aimed at the American and Chinese markets (even if BMW doesn’t overtly say it) and the manufacturer reportedly received very good feedback and is expecting this model to be a success.

Why even in my native Romania where SUVs are also very popular, BMW expects to sell a few dozens of these per year. When I attended the local reveal last night, held in a very suitable location in northern Bucharest, hey announced that even on the small local market they already had 15 orders for the vehicle, which is expected to cost around €180,000 with some options.

And seeing this brash, brutish sports SUV in person, I began to understand where the appeal stems from. Firstly, though, I’d like to make it clear that I too was one of the people who criticized BMW for making a plug-in hybrid SUV as its half-century anniversary vehicle.

2023 BMW XM
2023 BMW XM

Perhaps I’m living in the past when I say that I still don’t really find it appropriate for the M badge to be on an SUV, although the market and sales numbers would quickly contradict me. And the vehicle itself is actually not that bad to look at in person - I think it has very strong, purposeful front and rear fascias, but the side profile that could have been a bit more exciting.

You can’t ask for more excitement inside, though. With the blue leather on the seats, the vintage looking brown leather on the dash, the unusual illuminated headliner and the very sporty driving position, it has to be one of the coolest car interiors in the industry right now. 

Would I have wanted a bespoke sedan with a similar interior instead of this SUV? But sitting inside a BMW XM it does find ways to seduce you. Let us know in the comments what your thoughts are on this monster plug-in SUV.

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