BMW’s Protection vehicle range now includes the X5

We often see cars being shot at and even blown up in movies and while that’s Hollywood stuff, such things also happen in real life. Leaders of governments, corporate heads and the super-rich are potential targets by the bad guys, either for assassination or kidnapping. So the vehicles they travel in need extra protection.

There are companies that specialise in adding protection to vehicles and some carmakers also provide models with armoured capabilities factored into the vehicle’s development process.

Designed from the start
Just like original products are better than those which are adapted, armoured vehicles that have been designed by the carmaker for the purpose can have better fitment of the protective parts. For instance, mounting points for armoured panels may be incorporated in the structure, making it easier to install them if required.

BMW i7 & 7-Series Protection [2023]

BMW is one of the carmakers which does such specialised models (which it does not always talk about). The latest of these is the X5 Protection VR6 which is certified to meet certain standards for resistance against bullets and even blasts.

Suitable as a support vehicle
While the i7 and 7-Series Protection models would be for the ‘principal’ (security lingo for the person to be protected), the X5 Protection VR6 might be more suited for those who protect him or her. As a Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV, BMW’s term for SUVs), it has added capability, especially on rough and slippery surfaces.

The X5 has, in fact, been a popular choice for security services in some countries because of its performance and capabilities.

The armouring’s formed steel sections and the safety glass were specially developed for this model. This meant that careful consideration was already given to aspects such as body gaps and the transitions between body and glass in the development phase.

Formed sections made of high-strength steel that have been perfectly tailored to the body’s contours can be found in the area around the doors, side frame, roof and bulkhead. An armoured partition for the luggage compartment and an aluminium splinter guard for the underbody round off the body-related security measures.

Standard specification also includes a self-sealing fuel tank with a special casing that seals itself after being hit by a bullet to prevent any loss of fuel. Extended underbody armouring and additional armouring for the roof are available as options.

BMW X5 Protection VR6 [2023]
Spot the difference = the X5 Protection VR6 has a similar appearance as a standard X5 (lower picture) so it blends into traffic, useful for its role.
Similar appearance as standard model
The specialised model looks like a standard X5 which is advantageous as it can blend with other vehicles. However, under the bonnet is an upgraded powertrain which also has BMW’s xDrive system and bespoke chassis technology for handling extreme driving situations.

The drivetrain has a 4.4-litre V8 engine with 48V mild hybrid technology. The integrated electric motor generates an output boost of up to 9 kW/12 ps and 200 Nm, raising the total maximum output to 390 kW/530 ps and up to 750 Nm.

BMW V8 4.4 litres

This massive output ensures that the SAV will still have strong acceleration in spite of the armoured bodywork adding considerable weight. 0 to 100 km/h can be done in a claimed, while the top speed is an electronically limited to 210 km/h.

Optimised chassis technology
The chassis has been tuned to match the higher power output as well as heavier weight. No upgrade has been made on the brakes as the ones fitted on a standard X5 have consistently high levels of stopping power, even under heavy loads.

The new X5 Protection VR6 comes with adaptive M suspension Professional, which includes not only the M Sport differential but also Integral Active Steering and an active roll stabilisation system. Active roll stabilisation is able to reduce both body roll when taking corners at speed and the obtrusive effects caused by surface imperfections on one side of the vehicle when driving in a straight line.

BMW X5 Protection VR6 [2023]

Besides the integrated protection concept, the procedures compulsory for all models include arduous test and calibration runs staged over the course of the production development process. This is to ensure that both the vehicle and its model-specific equipment features are ready to go and will work reliably even in extreme conditions.

Seating only for four
Inside, the layout differs from a standard X5 in that there is accommodation only for four persons. This of course makes for optimal comfort as well as allows more space for security personnel, if the SAV is used as a support vehicle.

BMW X5 Protection VR6 [2023]

Sport seats are provided as standard, offering good lateral support to stabilise the driver’s body in the event he has to carry out extreme manoeuvres. Standard specification includes an M leather steering wheel, ambient lighting, a hi-fi speaker system and soft-close doors.

Latest BMW cockpit
As with recent new BMW models, the cockpit has the fully digital BMW Curved Display. This consists of a 12.3-inch information display behind the steering wheel and a control display with a screen diagonal of 14.9 inches – both located behind a single glass surface.

BMW X5 Protection VR6 [2023]

The X5 Protection VR6 also comes with the upgraded BMW iDrive with QuickSelect. It is based on BMW Operating System 8.5 with more intuitive operation and QuickSelect rapid-access tech which would be useful in stressful situations.

The protection vehicle is also fitted as standard with the sensors and camera systems developed for the driver assistance systems in the X5. Functions such as Surround View, Remote 3D View and the BMW Drive Recorder provide precise and detailed information on the area around the vehicle.

BMW iDrive

The vehicle’s boot has a volume of 500 litres which can take a lot of gear and equipment, while its maximum permissible payload has increased to 475 kgs.

Additional features
Another standard item for this particular is an intercom system for communicating with people on the outside. The controls for both this system and other functions are in an additional panel of switches in front of the selector lever on the centre console.

BMW X5 Protection VR6 [2023]

Further equipment features can be added to the X5 Protection VR6 depending on the customer’s requirements or the environment that the vehicle will be operating in. These include flashing LED lights in the radiator grille at the front, flashing rear lights, roof-mounted light beacons including an acoustic signalling system and a roof antenna with an additional receiver for digital two-way radio.

BMW Spartanburg USA factory
The X5 Protection VR6 is made at the same factory in as the other X5 models. The factory, located in the US state of South Carolina, was originally set up to produce BMW’s first SAV. Today, it is the ‘Home of the X models’

Special driver training
BMW also offers special security driver training courses at several locations around the world. These programmes, which BMW has been running for more than 35 years, are offered at various levels depending on the prior knowledge of the participants involved. content ranges from comprehensive theory sessions to practical vehicle control exercises and tactical response training.

BMW’s new generation of i7 and 7-Series Protection limousines


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