BMW M takes the fight to Maranello.
Welcome to a different kind of comparison. The all-new BMW XM and Ferrari Purosangue aren't natural rivals, but they do have one important attribute in common. These cars are the ultimate expression of the respective brands, albeit in SUV format. One hails from BMW's monstrous M department, the other from Maranello.
Why compare the Ferrari to the Bimmer, considering they have so little in common? Well, we're doing it for that exact reason. Both are technically firsts, as the BMW is the second-only BMW M standalone project, with the first being the famous M1. The Fezza is the Prancing Horse's first attempt at something like an SUV, although you're not supposed to call it that.
What we find striking is that the engineers behind the scenes likely received the same briefing and came up with two wildly different cars. This isn't so much a question of where you should spend your money but rather an interesting look at how two highly respected brands solved the problem of building the ultimate performance SUVs.
We can sum up the design of the BMW XM in two words: Hard pass.
But in the interest of being unbiased and fair, we should probably expand. The XM can't be used for the school run because it would scare other people's kids. While the kidney grilles are smaller than they were on the concept, they still call to mind the pigs from Angry Birds. It's distressing to the eyeballs, and that's the least offensive thing we can say about it.
We feel duty-bound to state that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In other words, the design is subjective. Subjectively speaking, we'd rather stare at the sun.
In contrast to the XM, Ferrari managed to build something exquisite. So many people were sitting at their keyboards, ready to smother the first Ferrari four-door under a layer of hateful comments, but even the most ardent trolls had to admit that it looks good.
Ferrari's design proves that less is more. The XM has several contrasting design lines, while Ferrari kept it elegant and clean. The Purosangue looks aggressive thanks to fake headlights divided by a thin LED strip. The actual headlights are hidden below, just above the large air intakes. At the rear, you can spot the usual Ferrari design DNA applied to a hatchback. And don't forget about those epic suicide doors.
Ferrari's design is more crossover wagon than SUV, and why not? It's not like these two SUVs will ever see anything more treacherous than a snowy road leading to a five-star ski resort.
The BMW's engine is a technological masterpiece but comes at a price. It consists of a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine making 483 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque and an electric motor housed within the transmission. The electric motor brings an additional 194 hp and 207 lb-ft to the party, which results in a combined output of 644 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. A more powerful Label Red will arrive later, sporting a 735 bhp and 735 lb-ft version of this power unit. BMW claims a 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed limited to 155 mph or 168 mph with the M Driver's package.
All of the above comes with a significant penalty. The XM weighs 6,062 pounds. Every other full-fat SUV, excluding the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, weighs less.
One has to wonder whether the XM wouldn't have been better if BMW hadn't pandered to the eco crowd. Thanks to the BMW M5 CS, we know the ICE part of the power unit can produce 627 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. Surely, the XM would have been faster using that engine version and dropping all the fat that comes with electrification?
Ferrari did what no other manufacturer dared to do. It bolted a naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V12 behind the front axle. The only electric motors you'll notice here are those that power the heated seats.
This glorious engine produces 715 hp and 528 lb-ft of torque. That means BMW can rightfully claim that it has the most powerful SUV on the planet once the Label Red arrives. And we could care less. You see, the Purosangue weighs 4,482 lbs. That's 1,580 lbs less than the XM, which will make a difference. Ferrari claims a 0-62 mph time of 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 193+ mph, with no optional performance pack required.
Like the XM, the Ferrari is AWD, but with a difference. It has a small transmission on the front axle, and it can only send a small percentage of the power to the front wheels. In the higher gears, the front transmission is disengaged completely. It's a profoundly overcomplicated system, but if you've ever driven a GTC4Lusso or a FF, you'll know Ferrari's time designing it was not wasted.
Once again, Ferrari goes against convention and only offers four seats. The BMW is slightly more practical, offering M Lounge rear seats, which consist of two outboard seats and a tiny space for somebody in the middle.
BMW chose two horrible colors to showcase the interior, but we can see the potential. As you'd expect from a halo product, the interior is wrapped in the finest Merino leather and Alcantara and adorned with genuine carbon fiber inserts.
Standard features include iDrive 8 with BMW's Live Cockpit with M-specific graphics. It's a lovely system, and we have just one criticism. BMW could have done more to differentiate the interior from lesser models. This is a standalone M product, and apart from a few M-specific touches, it looks like an X7 on the inside.
Ferrari also uses the finest leather and carbon fiber, but we're not entirely convinced the interior is successful. We admire Ferrari for trying to move away from the standard touchscreen interface in the middle setup, but the oddly placed rotary dial that takes its place is a bit like a third nipple. It's just odd.
We like the idea of giving the driver and passenger an instrument cluster. Ferrari interiors have always been angled toward the driver, and this is its first attempt to include the family. For a first try, it's not bad.
As usual, most of the controls are placed on the steering wheel. If you already have a Ferrari, you'll know that the haptic feedback buttons are horrible, but it's worth living with them so you can look at those deliciously oversized paddles behind the steering wheel.
The lower-output BMW XM will retail for $159,000, while the 735hp Label Red will start at over $185,000. Throw in a few options, and you're looking at $200,000.
There's no easy way to say this. BMW will sell thousands upon thousands of these things. which means we'll have to look at the darn things. Make no mistake, folks. By building this car, BMW basically built a money printing press within its Spartanburg facility.
If you want the Purosangue, you're looking at around $400,000 and a long waiting list. Unlike many other supercar makers, Ferrari didn't need to build a crossover. It was already making loads of money before, so its crossover production will be limited. The Purosangue will never be allowed to exceed 20% of combined Ferrari sales, and demand will be through the roof. Every Ferrari lover who wants a practical daily will want one, so the Italian brand can pretty much charge what it wants.
Do we think the Purosangue is worth twice as much as an XM? Perhaps not. But think of it another way. You pay $200,000 for the Ferrari, plus another $200,000 not to have that horrible pig face parked in your driveway.