BMW XM Label Red sets Pike Peak record

Big, heavy, expensive, divisive – and faster than a Bentley Bentayga…

By Matt Bird / Friday, 3 November 2023 / Loading comments

Expect to see plenty more Pikes Peak times coming through from now on. Once upon a time, records were only attempted on the hillclimb weekend in the summer; now Pikes Peak has changed its approach, the 12.42 miles and 156 turns available for manufacturers to have a crack whenever they feel like it. Keen to take advantage is BMW, which has established a new benchmark with the XM Label Red. 

Its 10:48.60 makes the big Beemer the fastest hybrid electric SUV at Pikes Peak. A niche record for now, yes, though it’s easy to imagine more competitors coming forward over the years with the significance of both the Colorado hill climb and plug-in SUVs in the USA. For reference, that time just undercuts that set by Rhys Millen in a Bentley Bentayga in 2018 (10:49.90), which back then was the fastest SUV of any stripe. Since then it’s been surpassed by the Lamborghini Urus Performante, which romped up in 10:32.06 last summer, so the electrified alternatives still have a way to go if king of the hill status really matters. Remember the 666hp Lamborghini weighs 2,150kg, the 748hp BMW coming in at 2,720kg…

BMW’s Chief Driving Instructor at its Performance Centre in South Carolina, Matt Mullins, was behind the wheel for the record run. He drove in the unsuccessful attempt back in the summer, too, but was also part of the team that drifted an M5 for 230 miles in 2018 – he likes a challenge. Speaking of the car in a Peak Power YouTube documentary, he said: “This was an awesome second chance to come back… XM’s the real deal. So for anybody who looked and thought ‘what is this thing that M did? It’s big and whatever. And is this a proper M car?’ Is it really the performance or is it just a badge?’ Yeah, it is an M, the most powerful letter in the world. M is for motorsport, it’s legit – people should know that now, and it shouldn’t be a question any longer.” Nothing if not confident – wonder what the hybridised Lamborghini Urus might be capable of…

As for the lap itself, the XM’s run is largely as you might expect: monster straight-line pace, decent high-speed stability, then a bit of a muddle through the slower bends. If there’s time to watch the two-part documentary, it makes for good viewing, because this really is a big deal for all involved from BMW. Perhaps there will be a point where a Pikes Peak time matters as much as a Nordschleife lap. For now, the record is another string to the bow of the £170k Label Red for customers to consider.

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