It was a night of many firsts at the launch of the BMW XM, on Friday, May 12, at the Embassy of Germany, St Andrew. ATL Autobahn, the arm of the ATL Automotive Group responsible for the BMW line of vehicles, was the first in the Caribbean to receive the model, and the vehicle at the event was the first and only one in the island.
"The first-ever BMW XM is a vehicle like no other. It is intensely powerful, supremely refined, and complete with its latest in driving technology. It is irresistible and unconventional, suited for the Jamaican personality who wishes to stand out while enjoying the power of German engineering," Jeanel Bowla, sales manager - BMW Jamaica, told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.
It was also a night of seconds given that the XM is only the second pure M division vehicle produced — the first being the M1 super car revealed to the public in 1978. The XM then had the short-lived honour of being the most power production BMW and M car ever, until it was eclipsed by itself, when the special edition Label Red limited run of the XM was announced soon after the worldwide launch of the original.
"The XM marks the 50th anniversary of BMW M. It's also a signature model, because this is only the second time they've produced a car that doesn't have a base model. It is also a flagship car for us, because it's top of the food chain for any BMW car," said Sloane Jackson, head of business — ATL Autobahn.
The M badge has long been applied to the highest performance version of various BMW models, whether sedan or sport utility vehicle (SUV), and performance is no problem with the XM as a total power output of 653bhp comes from a combination of a twin turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 and a 197bhp electric motor integrated into the eight-speed automatic transmission. The electronic portion of the XM means 55 miles of range. As with the M1 when it was introduced, the XM hints at the direction the M brand is heading along with modern reality of the automotive landscape.
"In this current market we have a BMW M division that decided not to replace the M1 with a newer version of the M1, but replace it with an SUV. And not just to replace it with an SUV, but to replace it with an SUV with a plug-in hybrid. It's a sign of the times, and it's a symbol of what the market would like to buy," said Jackson.
As the first electrified high-performance model from BMW M, the XM features bold and angular styling in a vehicle of similar the dimensions to the largest production BMW, the X7. Standout elements include contour lighting in the iconic BMW kidney grilles, and the BMW logo engraved into the upper corners of the rear glass in homage to the M1.
Inside is the epitome of BMW luxury for all passengers. Those up front will be ensconced in tech, operated from the M-specific BMW curved display. Rear occupants can relax in the M Lounge which re-interprets the back seats by extending them into the door trim panels for more room. Everyone can bask in the glorious LED lit Alcantara lined three-dimensional prism headliner and the 20 speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system.
"German companies guarantee you a promise of German quality and German technology wherever they are manufactured and sold. You are part of us, we are part of you, and that's why I was glad to accept hosting this event tonight," said Jan Hendrik Van Thiel, German ambassador to Jamaica, addressing the guests.