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The XM defaults to its hybrid drive mode, where it’ll use the electric motor as much as possible for supplemental performance, firing up the gas engine when needed (which, admittedly, is most of the time). You can drive the XM solely under electric power at speeds up to 87 mph, but since you’re only relying on the e-motor’s 194 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque in this setting, don’t expect the same level of performance. There’s also an eControl mode, which is similar to the battery hold systems found in other plug-in hybrids, where you can exclusively run the gas engine, and save those sweet, sweet electrons for another time.
Official EPA data is still forthcoming, but BMW expects the XM to have a roughly 30 mile electric driving range, which is good but not great. Remember, though, this hybrid system is more about providing supplemental oomph than fuel-sippin’ eco driving, and because all that electric torque is available right from idle, it can provide necessary boost while the turbochargers spool up, meaning power delivery is instantaneous and rewarding. Seriously, floor this thing when you’re doing 45 mph and you’ll be cresting legal speeds in the blink of an eye.
Drive the XM hard and it’ll use energy recuperation to send electricity back into the battery, which is neat, and kind of an interesting little reward for your leadfoot tendencies. Like a lot of PHEVs, the XM can’t accept DC fast charging — it wouldn’t make sense given the small lithium-ion pack — but on a Level 2 charger, the battery can go from 0 to 100% in just over 3 hours, which really isn’t bad. There’s even a cute little tote for the charging cable in the XM’s trunk, and since it’s lined and waterproof, you can use it for clothes or groceries.
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