The Sculptural BMW Concept XM Debuts at Art Basel Miami Beach 2021

An architectural statement SUV with radical interiors from the luxury automaker

Inside Miami‘s 1111 Lincoln Road, an architecturally alluring parking tower designed by Herzog & de Meuron and known as location for lavish events, German luxury automaker BMW debuted their transformative, one-off BMW Concept XM earlier this week as part of Art Basel Miami Beach. The reveal, which we attended, was appropriately timed. Not only is BMW a long-standing official Art Basel automotive partner, but this sculptural plug-in hybrid SUV is itself infused with the brand’s passion for the arts. With its convention-defying design, evident both inside and out, this car declares that anything is possible in the electrified future of automotive at the brand.

To understand the plug-in hybrid BMW Concept XM (which pairs a V8 engine with an electric motor) requires more than a quick glimpse at the expressive, architectural body. In fact, before stepping forward, the brand looked to the past. This distinct vehicle celebrates the forthcoming 50th anniversary of BMW’s high-performance M brand, which debuted in 1972 with the now-iconic M1. This is the second-ever standalone M vehicle that BMW has developed. As the name suggests, however, the concept also incorporates elements of the brand’s sporty, utility-oriented X models. Altogether, this luxuriant hybrid unifies so many of the BMW’s industry-defining values.

Observing the exterior, anyone familiar with BMW will notice a reinterpretation of their classic design elements. “Every part of the car, there are two seemingly contradictory themes,” Hussein Al-Attar (Creative Director Automotive Design at Designworks, A BMW Group Company) says during the event, “but when we talk about duality this is not about 50% of this and 50% of that—we are talking about 200% here.” This underlying duality is evidenced by the two-tone color, the split headlight system and, of course, the hybrid engine. The vehicle also sits on hearty 23-inch wheels. From the illuminated kidney grille all the way to the expressive tail (which weaves together all of the car’s lines), the BMW Concept XM represents an approach to vehicle design that’s untethered from tradition.

Though much has been made of the concept’s extravagant exterior shape, it is the spacious, eccentric interiors that truly compel. “There’s no first and second class in this car. There’s only first row and second row and they’re both first class,” Frank Van Meel (BMW M CEO) tells us. Vintage-like leather upholstery has been paired with lush, vibrant jewel-tone fabric. There’s an undeniably retro-futuristic lounge touch to the tone and materiality, but the unifying “cathedral ceiling” and the crystalline geometries of its embedded lighting units offer a premium sci-fi, space-cave sensibility.

This concept will inform a 2023 production model, manufactured at the brand’s South Carolina facility. It will be BMW’s most powerful vehicle upon its release. The vehicle will offer a purported 750 horsepowers and 737 lb-ft of torque. Though it will not look exactly like what BMW unveiled, many elements will be quite close.

For anyone attending Art Basel Miami Beach this year, the show-stopping BMW Concept XM will be displayed on the north side of the Grand Ballroom of level two at the Miami Beach Convention Center from 1-4 December, alongside Brooklyn-based fine artist Kennedy Yanko‘s stunning sculpture art that was commissioned for the event.

Images courtesy of BMW