BMW has built an armored or bullet-resistant version of its ubiquitous X5 SAV since 2004, starting with the first generation. It began with the E53 X5 Security, which was succeeded by the E70 X5 Security Plus in 2009. The F15 Concept X5 Security Plus was shown at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, and last year, the G05 X5 VR6 Protection arrived with over 500 horsepower and the ability to withstand AK-47 ammunition.
There’s a more recent addition to BMW’s highly successful X vehicle lineup though, and it’s called the X7. The largest BMW model yet and the first to come standard with three-row seating (not the tiny optional rearmost seats for the X5), the X7 has proven to be a welcome addition to BMW’s model portfolio, with sales quickly ramping up to match or exceed performance of traditional BMW models since its debut. BMW’s X lineup accounted for 60% of BMW NA sales in 2020, and the X7 was integral to that success, with more than 40,000 units sold delivered during its first two years on sale.
BMW has yet to extend the X5’s security treatment to the X7, but if you’re in specific need of a bullet-resistant version of the largest BMW currently on sale, INKAS Armored Vehicle Manufacturing, out of Toronto, Canada, has a solution. Billed as the world’s first commercially available armored X7, the SAV is assigned the BR6 level of protection, which means it can actually withstand more firepower than BMW’s own factory-offered security models.
When viewed from the exterior, there’s little indication that an X7 armored by INKAS is any different than its conventional counterpart. There are no obvious modifications to give away the full perimeter protection afforded to the occupants, which are essentially encapsulated in a masterfully integrated bulletproof box of sorts. Lowering the windows reveals multi-layer bullet-resistant glass, but compared to the armored vehicles of prior generations, it’s nice to have windows that actually roll down. Bullet-resistance extends to electronic components like the engine control unit and the battery, which are protected in a way similar to the passenger compartment.
To handle the added weight of all the steel and kevlar, the X7’s air suspension has been upgraded, while things like door hinges and other structural points have been reinforced. You’ll have to get in touch with INKAS for a quote if you want to get an idea of how much an armored X7 will cost, but the company also offers a host of additional options, including heavy duty brakes, a fire suppression system, mars lights, sirens and PA system, and perhaps most interestingly, a lightweight armoring package.
INKAS starts with an X7 M50i for the basis of its armored build, which comes with an N63 4.4-liter V8 producing 523 horsepower from 5,500 rpm to 6,000, and 553 pound-feet of torque from 1,800 to 4,600. That motivation is sent to all four wheels through a ZF eight-speed automatic and standard xDrive all-wheel-drive, which allow the 5,560-pound X7 to hit 60 mph from a dead stop in just 4.6 seconds, according to Car and Driver.
Just how much weight INKAS adds to the nearly three-ton curb weight isn’t known, and raising the question just makes the optional lightweight armor package all the more interesting. BMW’s own X5 VR6 Protection uses the same underlying 523-horsepower powertrain, and is quoted as being able to accelerate to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds; two seconds slower than what a stock M50i is capable of under real world conditions, but exceptionally fast nonetheless—especially for a vehicle that can withstand 7.62 × 51mm NATO rounds, which are significantly larger than the 7.62 × 39mm ammunition used in the AK-47 assault rifle.
The INKAS armored vehicle based on an X7 is available now via special order, and interested buyers can get a quote via the company’s website. Whether or not BMW follows up with its own X7 protection package remains to be seen, but the model seems to be an exceptional starting point with the right market.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy INKAS Armored Vehicle Manufacturing.]