BMW XM Label Red | The Green Lane

By Jeremy Taylor

4 months ago

Taking a battery assisted super SUV for a spin

Is this the most powerful BMW road car ever? Motoring editor Jeremy Taylor and sustainable fashion expert Jessica Saunders strap in to a battery-assisted super-SUV, the BMW XM Label Red.

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Car Review: BMW XM Label Red

bmw xm label red

JS – Well, this is a controversial one! I love the ‘lipstick’ around the front grille but surely some mistake about the price?

JT – Not exactly, no. Our test car was £170,860 – the most BMW has asked for a production car before – plus an additional £11,125 of options, including heated and cooled cupholders.

Obviously, a must-have. More useful was the Gesture Control system, for adjusting in-car controls with the wave of a finger. So, why is this XM crazily expensive – it’s just a sporty SUV, isn’t it?

You can say that again – thanks to a 4.4-litre V8 engine beefed up with a plug-in battery pack, the special edition Label Red version of the XM offers 738bhp. All that power means a 0-62mph time of just 3.8 seconds. It’s silly quick, but also has the ability to travel 34 miles on electric power only.

I read that just 500 are being built, each with a number plaque – is it going to be a future classic then?

Unlike a similarly-priced Lamborghini or McLaren supercar, I suspect not. That’s for one very good reason. Both the Label Red and standard version are just not a thing of beauty – with or without the lipstick.

The car seats

Yes, the Label Red is best described as visually ‘challenging’ from any angle. Some might say a polarising design, pushing the boundaries, or just rather vulgar. Aesthetically, there isn’t a decent angle to photograph this car, which is rare these days.

I tend to agree. We both like BMW design, but this is totally over the top. Nobody seemed to have a good word to say about the XM wherever we drove it – even the extra 94bhp provided by the electric motor seems unnecessary. Power output is more than the Porsche 911 Turbo S!

An unusual interior, too. The BMW is extraordinarily luxurious, especially the heated and massaging front seats – available with vintage-look leather, I note. Instead of a panoramic glass roof, Label Red cars have a suede-like material that features fibre optic lighting sewn-in – something I can write about in my PhD on e-textiles!

I’m not so sure about the illuminating speakers, while the steering wheel is over-complicated with many buttons. What do we like?

The fact it can be driven silently on battery power? It’s probably the only hope you have of not being seen driving such an ostentatious, over-the-top car designed to match big egos.

The BMW on charge


Discover more about the BMW XM Label Red at

Jessica Saunders is Director of Programmes at London College of Fashion, studying for a PhD in sustainable e-textile design.