We’ve seen BMWs make cameos plenty of times in action movies, from Jason Bourne’s 1985 E28 5 Series in The Bourne Supremacy to Ethan Hunt’s high-tech M3 in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and M5 in Mission Impossible: Fallout. In film, these vehicles are almost always used as agile and quick getaway cars, capable of protecting the protagonist with thick windows and bulletproof armor. But BMW isn’t about just making their cars look cool and functional on the big screen—they’ve long been making them reality.
We’ve seen BMW implement some of this protective technology on real vehicles in the past, minus some of the secret agent gadgets, of course. While BMW has released new emergency and first-responder models just last year, they are more suited for day-to-day work. Unlike these emergency-prepared models, the protection models cater to a consumer base that is more specialized. First offered in 1978, BMW released the 733i High Security, a modified variant of the 7 Series sedan and the Bavarian automaker’s first attempt at an armored vehicle.
Decades later in 2004, BMW went on to engineer the X5 Security, the first SAV on the market to have model-specific security modifications. In 2009, the X5 Security Plus was BMW’s first ever SAV to become certified as an armored vehicle with a Resistance Class 6 rating, a class level usually only reserved for high-level armored civilian vehicles and some light military applications.
Today, BMW continues the lineage of the X5 Security with the recently debuted X5 VR6 Protection, a tactical SAV like you’ve never seen before. Certified according to the Guidelines for Bullet Resistant Vehicles, Explosive Resistant Vehicles, and other literature outlining bullet and explosive force resistance of security vehicles, the X5 VR6 is guaranteed to be as functional and as tactical as it looks. From the exterior, it looks almost indistinguishable from the civilian production version, allowing it to blend in with normal traffic, an aspect that increases safety. However, moulded sheets of high-strength ballistic steel line the body of the vehicle, complemented by a thick aluminum undercarriage component and another armored piece integrated as a luggage compartment partition in the rear of the vehicle. Polycarbonate layered bullet-resistant glass comes standard, with 33mm of thickness designed to stop high-impact weaponry, or more specifically, “ammunition up to a calibre of 7.62 × 39 FeC or 7.62 × 39 SC respectively, as used in weapons of the type AK-47,” according to BMW—they know their market.
A tactical SAV of this caliber wouldn’t earn such a high resistance rating if it didn’t live up to it, which is why the X5 VR6 is rated to withstand an explosive blast from DM51-type hand grenades and up to 33 pounds of TNT. BMW’s Post Blast Protective Technology works in conjunction with security glazing over the bodywork to insure that all points of contact between armor remain firmly together even in the event of a blast, further protecting the driver and occupants. A self-sealing fuel tank also makes the list of standard equipment, preventing the vehicle from combusting in the event the tank itself suffers damage. Besides the hefty security modifications that come standard, some may wish to opt for the armored roof, a decision that allows the consumer to benefit from certified DTG5 protection against air and drone assault.
The combative aspects of the X5 VR6 make its a potent adversary if a firefight situation arises, but if escape is preferred, the SAV is also sure to make a quick getaway. Powered by a 4.4 liter twin-turbo V8 fitted with BMW’s very own TwinPower Turbo and VANOS technology, the brute will use its 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque to rocket to 130 mph in 5.9 seconds, an exceptional number considering the weight of the extra steel onboard. Also included standard is BMW’s Integral Active Steering, which allows the front and rear wheels to steer in opposite directions in order to increase traction, agility, and cornering speed in the event of an escape or vehicle chase. Active Roll Stabilization and high-performance braking paired with an onboard attack-alarm and intercom system also allows the driver to communicate with the outside world while navigating traffic, creating situational awareness and thus improving overall safety.
The new X5 VR6 Protection is living proof that protection vehicles are not just props for the big screen—they are a legitimate source of custom security, providing protection for consumers from many countries around the world. BMW guarantees extreme function and reliable performance for its road-going production vehicles, and the X5 VR6 Protection is no different. With an aggressive visage and a defensive purpose, this armor-equipped SAV proves that it is the Ultimate Driving Machine when security and safety are compromised.—Malia Murphy
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]