For more than 60 years, BMW has been active in the special-service and fleet-vehicle realms. Countless platforms and models have been used over the years, among the most memorable of which is the E28 5 Series, which saw extensive police use in throughout Europe. Recently, at RETTmobil, the leading trade show for special-purpose vehicles in Europe, BMW exhibited a total of six new variants, all based on current production platforms. In addition to a pair of X3s, an X1 and a 2 Series Gran Tourer are also part of the mix; all of theseare diesel-powered, while an F Series GS motorcycle and John Cooper Works MINI show car round things out.
The pair of X3 SAVs, both xDrive 20d variants, are built to handle some very different duty requirements. The first model, surrounded by smoke tinged blue from its removable, omnidirectional beacon, is intended for paramedics. Panels are wrapped in extra-bright orange foil film, and additional lighting is fitted within the louvers of the kidney grilles. The wheel-and-tire setup appears slightly downmarket, with less rubber visible, but the design still looks sporty. Inside are many of the luxuries that U.S. BMW customers are used to, like an iDrive system running BMW Business navigation, three-zone climate control, heated seats, and more.
Using the same underlying platform and drivetrain is the fire-service command X320d xDrive. Finished in a more distinct pattern of high-contrast reflective foil, this variant runs a significantly more aggressive wheel-and-tire setup in the press photos. Lighting has also been appropriately changed with a large bar mounted on the roof, while the same flashers remain present within the front grilles. Opening the rear lift gate reveals additional flashing lights, which allow for increased visibility while loading or unloading gear.
Inside, modifications are significantly more extensive than the paramedic version. In addition to an antenna array that is ready to work with GPS and Tetra signals, a Sepura MRT digital radio is also mentioned. There are also preparations in place for interior occupants to wear headsets, along with a 230-volt power outlet and additional 12-volt sockets. A permanent charging setup, a fire extinguisher, and sport seats for the driver and copilot are also part of the package, while iDrive runs BMW Professional navigation, and there’s three-zone climate control. A number of driving-assistance features are also present, along with a head-up display. Performance for the two-liter turbodiesel four is respectable, with a 0–60 time in the 7–8 second range, and output of 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
The X120d xDrive has also been dressed up, this time for first-responder duties and emergency operations management. Billed as the perfect “all-’rounder” by BMW, the X1 promises versatility and reliability in a highly efficient package; BMW says that great visibility and sharp agility make the platform an excellent choice as a fire-command vehicle. In addition to the expected lighting changes, there’s also a second battery and a concealed radio antenna, while inside, there’s a pre-fitted fixture for a radio.
Serving as an emergency ambulance is the 220d xDrive Gran Tourer. Treated to what sounds like a full conversion, the base platform offers advantages like a high seating position, durable loading floors, and large doors. The rear seat is longitudinally adjustable, there’s a steel grid divider fitted, and it looks like a movable platform is mounted within the rear cargo area. Other interior equipment includes fittings for a radio, antenna, and wiring, while preparations for a 230-volt power supply, junction box, internal heater, and permanent charger are also mentioned.
Although more police departments and other public-service entities are considering and even purchasing cars like the BMW i3, it’s likely that BMW fans in the U.S. will never see any of the models highlighted in this article. Nonetheless, it’s still interesting and fun to see the true capability of the vehicles that BMW builds, and see how they can rise to almost any occasion when fitted with the right equipment.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy of BMW Group.]