You’ll likely not have heard of Dartz. It’s a Latvian based carmaker that specialises in heavily-armoured vehicles.
These cars are made not for armies, nor even police forces, but for shall we say ‘ultra-high net worth individuals.’ Rich people, in other words.
Rich people who want bullet-proof armour, but also interior leather made from alligator hide, styling from the fevered mind of a 1980s Sylvester Stallone film fan, and an optional bullet-proof hoodie with alligator leather trim. Yes, really. You can even order 18-carat gold interior switches and buttons.
Why am I telling you about a company that styles itself as “bulletproof opulence trusted by billionaires, tzars, superstars, and generals”? Because BMW seems to be trying to muscle in on Dartz’s questionable aesthetic stomping ground with the new Concept XM.
If you thought BMW had pushed the ‘big grille’ thing to its limits with the recent M3 and iX electric SUV, well… prepare to sigh.
The Concept XM has the biggest set of nostrils ever seen on a BMW, and these days that’s really saying something.
The grilles are so massive, that they’ve relegated the lights to also-ran status — the LED running lights are tiny slits under the edge of the bonnet, while the main beam units are tucked away into a ‘black panel’ that sits either side of the grille. For maximum bling, that grille actually gets its own mood lighting.
The sides and rear of the Concept XM feature what can only be described as cash-in-transit-chic styling, with small, shallow windows, and the sort of heavy-handed styling of metalwork that’s normally reserved for toys in the Transformers range.
“The design of the BMW Concept XM is an extravagant statement by BMW M in the heart of the luxury segment,” says Domagoj Dukec, head of BMW Design. “It has a unique identity and embodies an expressive lifestyle like no other model in the BMW line-up.” Quite…
The Concept XM is, as the name suggests, still just that — a concept, and it’s being framed as a 50th anniversary present to BMW’s legendary M high-performance brand. Anyone who treasures such previous M-cars as the original M1, the 1980s M3, and the current M2 is probably reaching for a sick-bag at this point.
The XM won’t remain a concept for long, though. BMW is seriously going to build it and we wouldn’t expect to see many major changes between this one and the final production models. It will be, once it hits showrooms in 2023, the first bespoke BMW M-car since the mid-engined M1 coupe of the 1970s.
As with all M-cars, it will have prodigious power. The XM is a plug-in hybrid, mixing an electric motor and a V8 petrol engine to produce a claimed 750hp and 1,000Nm of torque.
BMW isn’t making any performance claims as yet, but does mention that it should go for 80km under electric power if you top the battery up. That will surely mollify your local Green Party member…
Inside, the XM lifts the big, curved digital instrument and infotainment system from the current iX electric SUV, but adds such items as carbon-fibre panelling with copper thread woven in, and a cabin that’s divided between the front and rear sections.
“The BMW Concept XM represents a complete re-imagining of the high-performance car segment,” says Franciscus van Meel, chief executive of BMW’s M-division.
“It underlines the ability of BMW M to break with established conventions and push boundaries in order to offer fans of the brand the ultimate driving experience. The series-production car – the first pure BMW M model since the legendary BMW M1 – also shows how we are approaching the step-by-step electrification of our brand.”
If this is BMW’s 50th birthday to its M-badge, frankly we’d prefer a gift card…