Our Editor-in-Chief, Laura Bartlett, thrives on two things: impeccable taste and exhilarating adventures. So, when an invitation landed in her inbox promising an escape to the wilderness with the new BMW XM, a car rumoured to be as powerful as it was posh, well, let’s just say her adrenaline started to pump.

The invitation landed in my inbox with a flourish: “Escape the ordinary,” it declared, and promised an exploration of “whimsical delight” and “extroverted elegance” alongside the powerful new BMW XM. Intrigued, I knew this wasn’t your average car launch and as a lover of both luxury and a good adventure, I RSVP’ed with an enthusiastic click.

The destination? Wilderness Reserve, a sprawling estate nestled in the heart of the English countryside. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a vision of bucolic bliss – manicured lawns sprawling towards a shimmering lake, and The Grange, a grand manor house that promised a night of relaxation after a day of exhilarating pursuits.

The BMW XM, the star of the show, sat patiently waiting. A sleek and stylish crossover, it whispered of elegance and power in equal measure. But before I could get behind the wheel, the day called for a different kind of test.

Our first stop? An axe-throwing session. Now, I’ll admit, I approached this with a healthy dose of trepidation. But there’s something about the satisfying thunk of axe hitting wood that melts away stress and ignites a primal sense of empowerment.

Next up was the air rifle challenge. I lined up my sights, took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger. Bullseye! The target exploded in a poof of pink smoke, setting off a celebratory burst of fireworks. Turns out, I have a hidden talent for sharpshooting! This unexpected marksmanship not only surprised me but also garnered a round of impressed applause from my fellow adventurers, proving that car enthusiasm extends far beyond the driving experience.

As the sun began to dip below the horizon, casting long shadows across the manicured lawns, we were treated to a spectacular fire performance. The flames danced and swirled, mirroring the thrill of the day’s activities. A delicious BBQ under a blanket of stars capped off an evening filled with laughter, camaraderie and the realisation that luxury can be more than just thread count and champagne flutes.

The following morning, a refreshing wild swimming session in the lake provided a much-needed wake-up call before our departure. Exhilarated and invigorated, I perched myself behind the wheel of the BMW XM for a much-anticipated driving experience.

The car responded to my every touch, effortlessly navigating the winding country roads with a sense of precision and power. But it wasn’t just about the speed (although the XM certainly delivered in that department). The drive was a luxurious experience, the plush interior and intuitive technology cocooning me in comfort.

This was a high-performance beast with a plug-in hybrid twist. BMW’s M division, celebrating their 50th anniversary, unleashed a monster with a twin-turbo V8 engine working in concert with a powerful electric motor. The result? A staggering 653 horsepower and enough torque to launch you from 0-62 mph in a neck-snapping 4.3 seconds. But this wasn’t just about raw power. The XM boasted an impressive electric range, allowing for guilt-free cruising on pure electric power. It was a technological marvel wrapped in a decidedly extroverted design – a true statement piece for those who appreciate both elegance and edge.

As I pulled into the driveway at the end of the 24-hour whirlwind, I couldn’t help but grin. The BMW XM wasn’t just a car; it was a symbol of adventure, empowerment and the unexpected thrill of discovering hidden talents. The Wilderness Reserve escape had been the perfect blend of creature comforts and exhilarating challenges, proving that elegance can indeed be extroverted and that a little friendly competition can bring out the best in us all.


Northern girl Laura is the epitome of a true entrepreneur. Laura’s spirit for adventure and passion for people blaze through House of Coco. She founded House of Coco in 2014 and has grown it in to an internationally recognised brand whilst having a lot of fun along the way. Travel is in her DNA and she is a true visionary and a global citizen.

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