2024 BMW XM Label First Drive: When the standard XM isn’t enough

The 2024 BMW XM Label is not a traditional M offering in any sense. BMW didn’t call it a Competition, CS or even a CSL, and that starts to make sense once you get a handle on what it is. This new name for an M variant hasn’t come without its growing pains, either. For those who paid extra-close attention to the XM lineup since its debut, you’ll recognize that “XM Label” wasn’t even the original name for this variant when it came out. It was to be called the “Label Red” when it debuted, and it featured what could be described as the gaudiest of red appearance packages known to humankind. As reported by others, the change was to simplify the name. Mission accomplished?

At any rate, dropping the “Red” part of the name has come with design changes, too. The red accent package is not obligatory whatsoever, and BMW didn’t have a single example with the “Toronto Red” side trim on it for our first drive. That said, if you do want the red accent bands, they can be tacked on as a $0 option. The red “XM” badging is still present as a bit of a hangover from the “Red Label” naming scheme, but that’s your main telltale of this XM being a Label from the outside. One key bit we’ll note that hasn’t made its way into the production Label is the rather bold, red grille surround you can see from our original post here. We doubt that many will be complaining about its disappearance (nor that of the “lipstick-on-a-pig” quips that came with it).

The XM Label’s looks are a big part of what sets it apart from the standard XM, though, and one of the Label’s big pluses is its complimentary BMW Individual paint options. You’ll be able to select between over 50 different alluring paints free of charge with the Label – our particular tester was a truly jaw-dropping Sepia Metallic. But for as good as the outside colors may be, BMW limited the interior options to just a single “Fiona Red/Black” two-tone Full Merino Leather setup. Non-Label versions of the XM offer numerous interior upholstery options, with far more interesting material and color choices, like Deep Lagoon with Vintage Coffee or Sakhir Orange with Black. You’re also locked into a single trim option consisting of carbon fiber with a red weave. All these red accents are paired with red vents and a red “XM” logo in the center stack. The appearance leans heavily toward the performance side of matters, but we can’t help but prefer the more classy and elegant packages available on the non-Label model.

As for what makes the performance of the XM Label different from the standard XM, it’s largely about power. The Label has a combined 738 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque versus the standard XM’s 644 horses and 590 pound-feet of twist. None of the electrified parts of this plug-in hybrid powertrain change, but BMW heavily increases output from the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. In Label guise, the combustion engine produces 94 more horsepower to bring it to a grand total of 577 ponies. That’s not even the highest we’ve seen from M’s version of the high-output V8, so don’t be surprised to see BMW push things even further in the future.

Today, though, the Label is claimed to do the 0-60-mph sprint in just 3.6 seconds versus the standard XM’s time of 4.1 seconds. Top speed ticks higher, too, going from 168 mph to 175 mph for the Label when equipped with the $2,500 M Driver’s Package. From the driver’s seat, the Label feels a little quicker than the standard XM, but it’s not as obvious as the half-second difference in 0-60 might suggest. Both versions utterly rocket themselves off the line thanks to the 194-horsepower electric motor providing the initial grunt. The Label just has a bit more staying power once you get up to speed. The standard XM isn’t slow by any means, but the Label is king of the castle for pure, relentless acceleration.

As for how the XM Label drives under electric power, there is virtually no difference with the XM. It’s even rated for the same 46 MPGe or 14 mpg combined, the latter when exclusively powered by gasoline. The all-electric range of 31 miles from the 29.5-kilowatt-hour battery pack remains the same, as well. The electric power that helps you spring off the line when full acceleration is demanded is just as enjoyable when you’re putting around town, allowing you to effortlessly keep up with traffic without dipping into the gas tank.

Our complaints about the XM’s eight-speed transmission carry over to the XM Label, though. Pulling paddles in the fastest-shifting mode sends shockwaves through the car, taking you out of the drive experience and diminishing the joy of stringing corners together or piloting down a technical road. It’s a shame, because the XM Label really is a strangely hardcore and good-handling vehicle for its 6,000-plus-pound curb weight. You can thank the stiff steel springs (no air here!), active anti-roll system and electronically controlled shocks for its surprisingly good handling. However, none of the above is exclusive to the Label, as the chassis behaves virtually identically to the standard XM. If you were wondering why BMW didn’t go with one of its more traditional monikers like Competition or CS, this similar performance is likely a big reason why. The Label accelerates quicker in a straight line, but doesn’t bring any added benefits elsewhere. On the other hand, we don’t exactly need an SUV with any less ride comfort or reduction in noise deadening than the XM Label has. The massive 23-inch wheels and tires cloud the cabin with road noise, and while the optional 22s will improve the ride quality a bit, the XM still comports itself as a more serious performance vehicle than its size suggests.

The question remaining is whether the Label is worth the extra $26,000 you’ll pay over top of the standard XM. From an equipment standpoint, the two are essentially equal. Paying for a BMW Individual paint color on the XM will incur a $5,500 charge that is $0 on the Label, though that only closes a small percentage of the gap. Truthfully, it’s hard to stomach the extra cash for the slight boost in acceleration and appearance extras. We’d stick with the standard XM, which is already plenty quick, pay a little extra for a sweet paint option and enjoy the various other interior colorways that the XM offers. But for those who desire the most exclusive, most expensive and flashiest version, the Label is worthy of the label.

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