The first dedicated M model since the M1 is not another mid-engined sports car to serve as a true successor in 2022 when BMW’s motorsport division is celebrating 50 years of existence. If you’ve been wondering why the peeps from Munich decided to green light a large SUV instead of a nimble lightweight coupe, we now have a clear answer from the man himself – M boss Frank van Meel.
During an interview at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa, the man in charge of the M division explained the reasoning behind the decision to launch the XM: “A lot of people who drive a Lamborghini Urus or Mercedes G-Class say, ‘I want to have something like that from BMW,’ and so for us, it [the XM] was the logical choice.”
He further justified the XM makes more sense because the SUV still represents the fastest-growing segment. Frank van Meel explains the situation was different in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the M1 was around as those were “the golden ages of the sports car.” Back then, lots of automakers wanted to have a sports car of their own, and BMW delivered that with the M1. Things have changed in the decades that have passed and now luxury car buyers generally prefer an SUV.
Timo Resch, BMW M’s Vice President Customer, Brand, Sales, expects the United States to be the XM’s main market, along with China and the Middle East. He argues the range-topping SUV from Bavaria will lure in customers that would otherwise buy something like a Range Rover, a Bentayga, or another super-luxury SUV. The new arrival in M’s growing lineup has been conceived to broaden the appeal for M models by attracting a different clientele than the people who buy something like an M2 or M3.
Frank van Meel is realistic and honest by saying the typical XM owner won’t ever take the vehicle to the track, adding these vehicles will be used on a daily basis and “to be seen in.” M’s head honcho sees the SUV as “the zeitgeist segment to enter into,” so the decision to go with the XM was obvious in terms of generating sales volume.
While a follow-up to the M1 is not happening, BMW M is planning a special car. Come November, the 3.0 CSL will take the M4 CSL to a new level by offering more power and a manual gearbox in an even lighter car featuring a coachbuilt body reminiscent of the 2015 3.0 CSL Hommage concept.