It’s not just soccer mums and urban dwellers who are eschewing sedans for SUVs, with BMW’s new X5 catering for ‘those at risk’.
Cladded with the latest in armoured plating, BMW’s high-riding bullet-proof machine is called the VR6, named after its VR rating which is simply a certified ballistics resistance; levels 4, 6, 7, and 9 are the most commonly used on vehicles. While BMW’s armoured bus looks mostly the same to any other car in the X5 range, it can withstand bullets shot at the windows from an AK-47 assault rifle, and cruise along if explosives detonate underneath it.
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Impressive protection around the glasshouse comes from 33mm thick, multilayered polycarbonate-reinforced glass. Elsewhere the metal panels are replaced with high-strength steel armour plating which overlaps at the joins, and underneath is an aluminium underbody splinter shield designed to withstand DM51 grenades. We’re guessing they’d do a bit of damage to a run-of-the-mill SUV.
The sum of the parts is good enough to protect occupants in the hopefully unlikely scenario of a lateral blast of up to 15 kilograms of TNT from a distance of four metres. Post-blast protective technology further helps the car from secondary attacks. However unlikely a scenario may seem in the ’burbs of Australia, BMW says it has a number of clients at such risk.
“All over the world, private individuals, officials and celebrities alike rely on security vehicles from BMW... [which] offers private individuals and persons at risk customised protection against violent attacks, kidnapping or organised crime. This is often a decisive criterion, especially in regions like South America, Africa or Russia.”
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The former country’s clients will appreciate a short delivery time from the Spartanburg, USA plant where the VR6 is built. And for those with a really big target on their backs, further protection is on the options list like an armoured roof to protect against drone attack, a fibre composite floor to protect against HG85 hand grenades, and post-crash functions to retain mobility in extreme situations.
Powering the VR6 is the X5 M50i’s 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine, producing 390kW at 5500-6000rpm and 750Nm at 1800rpm, which BMW says makes the vehicle the most powerful in its niche segment. With all of the added armour it’s sure to weigh considerably more than a standard X5, but BMW hasn’t provided any figures from the scales, instead claiming the cladded tank will get away from a standstill to 100km/h in 5.9sec.
The X5 VR6 is just one of many armoured vehicles to come from the Bavarian maker, starting in 1978 with its work on the 7 Series sedan that inspired 3 and 5 Series cars to suit warlords and unpopular celebrities since.