Protect your stacks of cash and rare jewels with this armored BMW X5
South American drug lords and Russian oligarchs with a passion for BMW SUVs can breathe easier now that BMW has announced the latest X5 Protection VR6, a bullet- and explosive-resistant armored variant of the company’s popular luxury utility vehicle. Of course, discretion and anonymity are likely important factors for potential customers of an armored car, so the Bavarian automaker has worked very hard to make it visually indistinguishable from conventional X5 models. Special attention has also been paid to making it perform and handle normally, so the suspension has been upgraded to cope with the additional weight of the armor.
The “VR6” part of the model name is a reference to the rating of the SUV’s armor. That rating means that it can withstand bullets from an AK-47 machine gun. If IEDs or other roadside bombs are a concern, the passengers and driver of the X5 Protection VRS can survive the blast from as much as 33 pounds of TNT located just three meters from the car. There’s even an optional armored roof capable of resisting almost a half-pound of C4 plastic explosive, if you’re worried about drones.
To make the SUV that secure, the X5 is upfitted with high-strength steel armor in the doors, roof, firewall, door frames, and rocker panels. Lighter weight aluminum is used to armor the floor and bottom of the cargo area. If that isn’t enough to assuage your paranoia, you can upgrade the underbody armor to hand-grenade levels of protection.
The multi-layered bulletproof glazing for the doors, windshield, and backlight is over an inch thick and designed not to splinter in case you need to exit the vehicle… unconventionally. Using a technique called Post Blast Protective Technology, the windows remain in position following a blast to protect against secondary attacks.
BMW says that security concerns were a factor when they originally designed the conventional X5. Potential weaknesses, like body seams and transitions between sheet metal and glass, were strengthened so even folks driving around in non-armored X5s benefit from the program.
BMW hasn’t released how much weight the armoring adds, but the X5’s twin-turbo 523-hp 4.4-liter V-8 is capable of getting you out of a troublesome situation with alacrity, with a 0–62 mph (100 kmh) time of 5.9 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 131 mph. That raises the question—If you need an armored car, would you want its top speed to be artificially limited?
To help get out of those troublesome situations, the 20-inch rims are mounted with run-flat tires with reinforced sidewalls that can still work without any air pressure. A self-healing, fire-resistant polymer cover for the fuel tank that stops fuel from leaking if the tank is punctured.
Also included is a panic button that locks the doors, secures the windows, starts flashing the lights, and sounds an alarm. There’s also an exterior intercom so you can communicate with protesters and protectors without leaving the vehicle.
The BMW X5 Protection VR6 will be made on the same assembly line that produces conventional X5s at the company’s Spartanburg, South Carolina plant.