You don’t want to mess with this version of the BMW X5

It’s been over 40 years since BMW released the 733i High Security. It was the German automaker’s first attempt at an armored vehicle. Little did anyone know, including BMW, that the 733i High Security would send Bavaria down the road to developing more personal protection vehicles. Fast forward to 2019 and Bimmer is still churning out fortresses on four wheels, this time with the fourth-generation BMW X5 SUV. Officially, this X5 carries the “Protection VR6” label. It’s a standard X5 by most measures, except that it also carries enough protection to keep its occupants safe from heavy ammunition attacks. The BMW X5 Protection VR6 is not for the faint of heart, folks. It’s designed for people who need all the extra protection they can get on the road for reasons that are probably best left unasked.

  • 2019 BMW X5 Protection VR6
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    523 @ 5500
  • Torque @ RPM:
    553 @ 5700
  • Displacement:
    4.4 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5.9 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    131 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

Exterior

  • High-strength steel plate provides protection from AK47 ammunition, armor-piercing, and Penetrator rounds
  • 1.3-inch layered glass all around
  • Underbody shield and floor plating can withstand German-issue hand grenades
  • Optional armor on the roof
  • Emergency lights on the roof and kidney grille
  • No weapons
2019 BMW X5 Protection VR6 Exterior
- image 857869

I understand that there’s a certain demographic of BMW customers who need the kind of extra protection a model like the BMW X5 Protection VR6 provides. I’m not going to start asking any questions because it’s probably best if I leave it that way.

What I do know is that the X5 Protection VR6 is, essentially, an X5 with an armored shell. There’s nothing super fancy about it unless its armored plating counts as “fancy” to you. A high-strength steel plate surrounds the entire cabin, including the front bulkhead. The plates overlap sensitive areas like panel gaps, ensuring that the X5 Protection VR6 is air-tight sealed.

Given its purpose, you can see why a lot of people need this SUV, particularly with its VR6 rating, which means that it can provide protection from 7.62x39 ammunition used in AK47s and 30.06 armor-piercing and Penetrator rounds.

It also boasts a passenger cell that can withstand lateral blasts from as much as 72 pounds of TNT at a distance of 39 feet. I’m not going to pretend to know how that kind of blast feels to the senses, but I imagine it’s lethal without the kind of armored protection the X5 Protection VR6 provides.

2019 BMW X5 Protection VR6 Exterior
- image 857838

It’s not just the body that offers serious amounts of protection to the SUV’s occupants. The layered glass, for example, is 1.3 inches thick. It also contains an extra layer of internal polycarbonate, which can serve as protection from all the extra splinters that the SUV can be subjected to in the event of an attack. This polycarbonate is included in all glass surfaces so you can take comfort knowing that even high-grade bullets will have a tough time penetrating it.

Meanwhile, a car’s underbody is typically one of its biggest weaknesses, especially when it comes to grenades that are thrown in its vicinity. BMW addressed that weak spot by developing an underbody shield and floor plating that can repel the force of a German military-issue DM51 hand grenade. As for the fuel tank? That’s self-sealing so using it as a target in an assault is out of the question. All of this is serious stuff, folks.

2019 BMW X5 Protection VR6 Exterior
- image 857868

If the X5 Protection VR6 has a weak spot, it’s the roof. It’s a standard roof in standard guise, but if you don’t feel like you have enough protection with that, you can ask BMW to provide armor protection for that, too.

It’ll be able to withstand as much as seven ounces of C4 explosive, and while that doesn’t sound like much, you’ll probably need it anyway to calm your neurosis down.

Best I can tell, the X5 Protection VR6 has no weapons, so it’s strictly a fortress on four wheels.

Interior

  • Windows come with "Post Blast Protective Technology"
  • Intercom and Attack Alarm communications tools
  • Ambient lighting
  • M leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Live Cockpit Professional displays
2019 BMW X5 Protection VR6 Interior
- image 857841

The typical creature comforts you’ll normally see in a BMW X5 are all included in the interior of the X5 Protection VR6. That said, there are specific features and functions in the cabin that are in line with the extra protection identity of the armored X5. The windows, for example, are unique compared to those you’ll normally see in a standard X5. Apart from being thicker, only the driver’s side windows are power-operated as standard, though electric windows can also be ordered if you’re comfortable enough to get them.

All windows can also be limited to four-inch openings to ensure extra protection, and when danger strikes, all the windows roll up automatically.

These windows also come with “Post Blast Protective Technology,” keeping them in place in times of continuous assault.

The X5 Protection VR6’s interior comes with an intercom system that allows occupants to communicate with those outside the SUV. I’m not sure it’s going to be useful when the X5 is under siege, but it has its use in other scenarios. Speaking of communication systems, the X5 Protection V6 also has an “attack alarm,” which locks the doors, closes the windows, blinks the lights, and lets everyone know, including other cars that could be part of a security detail and convoy, that business is about to pick up.

2019 BMW X5 Protection VR6 Interior
- image 857840

From a luxury standpoint, BMW didn’t skimp on that stuff, too. This is still, after all, an X5 SUV. Leather and Alcantara occupy most of the interior surface. Even the SUV’s M steering wheel is wrapped in fancy leather.

On the tech side, the X5 Protection VR6 boasts Live Cockpit Professional displays, four-zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, and Automatic Soft Close for the doors.

Heck, if you really want to, the X5 Protection VR6 can also be dressed up by BMW Individual to suit your taste and preferences. I don’t necessarily think it’s a good idea to do that because of the SUV’s unique purpose and identity, but I’m not going to begrudge anyone who wants his ride to look good all the time, even when it’s under attack by people who want nothing more than to blow it up to smithereens.

2019 BMW X5 Protection VR6 Interior
- image 857846

Rest assured, the BMW X5 Protection VR6 is a legitimate armored vehicle with legitimate defense mechanisms and capabilities. You don’t expect anything less from an automaker who has been tricking out a select number of its rides with armor and steel plating for the last 40 years.

Drivetrain

  • 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine
  • 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque
  • 0 to 60 MPH: 5.9 seconds
  • Electronically limited top speed of 131 mph
  • Adaptive suspension with reinforced steel springs
  • 20-inch wheels that can use run-flat tires
2019 BMW X5 Protection VR6 Exterior
- image 857837

Unfortunately, all this heavy armor the BMW X5 Protection VR6 is packing has no bearing on the SUV’s engine. You’re still getting the same X5 M50i with the familiar 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine that produces 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a powerful SUV and remains fast enough to evade attackers if the situation calls for it. Just don’t expect the X5 Protection VR6 to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds like the standard X5 M50i. That’s not happening with all the extra weight it’s carrying.

Instead, BMW says that it can hit 60 mph from an idle position in 5.9 seconds and go as fast as 131 mph.

Those aren’t bad figures at all, even with all that extra added weight.

2019 BMW X5 Protection VR6 specifications
Engine 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8
Horsepower 523 HP
Torque 553 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 5.9 seconds
Top Speed 131 mph
2019 BMW X5 Protection VR6
- image 857857

Speaking of the added girth, the X5 Protection VR6’s suspension has been tweaked to accommodate the weight gains. BMW added an adaptive suspension with reinforced steel springs to go along with the sport brakes and active roll stabilization. Even the SUV’s 20-inch wheels can accommodate run-flat tires with reinforced sidewalls so even if those tires are targeted, they remain functional enough to keep you moving when the situation demands that you should.

Final Thoughts

2019 BMW X5 Protection VR6 Exterior
- image 857866

I’ve never been inside an armored car so I can only imagine the kind of anxiety you’d have to be in one. That said, the BMW X5 Protection VR6 exists to keep those anxious moments away. It comes heavy on the armor and, in typical BMW fashion, no space is wasted in ensuring that the SUV can withstand whatever siege it finds itself in. All the added safety and security features are in line with what you’d expect from Bimmer so there shouldn’t be anything to worry about on that end. I do think that a few weapons would come in handy, too, but in all seriousness, I’m not the type who’d want to be driven in an armored car because my life is in jeopardy. I’d prefer the standard X5 M50i with all of its creature comforts and none of this armor. But that’s me. Those who do need armor in their cars have a great option in the X5 Protection VR6. It might not be able to withstand a nuclear blast, but at least you can take comfort knowing that if you find yourselves under attack from forces that wish ill upon you, BMW has your back.

  • Leave it
    • Buying one means that you’re admitting to threats to your safety
    • Heavy as a tank
    • Definitely not for everyone

Further reading

2019 BMW X5 Exterior
- image 782630

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW X5.

2019 BMW X5 M50d - Driven
- image 817819

Read our driven review on the 2019 BMW X5 M50d.

With the latest generation of the security vehicle built on the basis of a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) for the luxury class segment, the premium carmaker BMW now meets the increased need for individual protection and superiority in any situation. The new BMW X5 Protection VR6 (combined fuel consumption: 13.0 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 298 g/km*) 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.

The integration of series components and additional safety-related equipment of the BMW X5 Protection VR6 into the vehicle architecture was already taken account of during development. Production is carried out according to the stringent production standards defined by the BMW Group. Thus the BMW X5 Protection VR6 combines a standard range of integrated protective equipment with the driving dynamics, comfort and advanced technology of the BMW X5. This is complemented by the equally supreme and discreet appearance of the new security vehicle, which is almost identical to the production model in terms of driving characteristics, high-grade interior and design.

The new BMW X5 Protection VR6 fulfils the requirements of resistance class VR6 in accordance with the internationally recognised official test criteria of the VPAM (Prüfstellen für Angriffshemmende Materialien und Konstruktionen; Associations of Testing Institutes for Attack Resistant Materials and Constructions). The official certification was carried out according to the Guidelines for Bullet Resistant Vehicles (BRV 2009), Explosive Resistant Vehicles (ERV 2010) and PAS 300, which define the bullet and explosive force resistance of security vehicles.

Maximum protection thanks to a holistic safety concept.

The integration of the protective equipment rendering the new BMW X5 a security vehicle of the resistance class VR6 was already taken into account during the development of the SAV. In this way, it was possible to implement a holistic safety concept comprising all areas of passive and active passenger protection. The moulded armour-plating components and the security glazing were developed exclusively for each model. They blend in harmoniously with the overall vehicle concept in terms of function and design. Therefore, both outside and inside, the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 is barely distinguishable from a conventional production vehicle. The anonymity resulting from this constitutes an additional safety aspect.

In contrast to retro-fitted armouring, there are also decisive advantages with respect to the effectiveness of the protective equipment and handling characteristics. The holistic safety concept of the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 makes it possible to already identify during the development stage potential weaknesses such as body joints and transitions between metal and glazing and to integrate effective protective measures. Certification includes the complete vehicle and not just the materials used. This is the only way to make a realistic assessment of the effectiveness of the model-specific protective cell. Likewise, the suspension and brakes on the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 are aligned to the increased weight vs. the production vehicle in order to ensure hallmark BMW agility also in critical driving situations.

Protected space: armoured passenger compartment and security glazing.

The interior of the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 offers passengers an extremely high level of protection against attacks with firearms and/or explosive devices. The key element of the protective equipment is the armoured passenger compartment of the SAV. Moulded components made from high-strength steel adapt perfectly to the contour of the body within the area of the doors, side frame, roof and front wall. Furthermore, an aluminium underbody splinter shield, the likewise armoured luggage compartment partition and security glazing are all standard and contribute towards a comprehensive protection of the interior. Multilayered safety glass with a thickness of approx. 33 mm for the windscreen, doors and luggage compartment partition wall also withstands attacks by impact weapons and is fitted with an internal polycarbonate layer as additional splinter protection. Moreover, penetration by bullets or fragments is prevented by tightly sealed protection and overlapping amour-plating, e.g. within the sensitive areas of door gaps and bodywork joints as well as the transitions between body panels and glazing.

The combination of amour-plated bodywork and security glazing facilitates effective protection against attacks by handguns and long firearms using 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, a most commonly used weapon in the world. Furthermore, the armoured passenger compartment withstands lateral blasts of up to 15 kilograms of TNT from a distance of four metres. Innovative so-called Post Blast Protective Technology for the security glazing ensures particularly effective protection against secondary attacks. Even following a blast, all windows remain firmly in position, thus eliminating any formation of gaps between glazing and body.

The armour-plated floor offers protection against hand grenades of the type DM51. Enhanced underbody reinforcement comprising fibre composite materials, which also withstands attack by hand grenades of the type HG85, is optionally available. A particularly extensively armoured roof is available as a further special option. The additional reinforcement comprising security steel and fibre composite materials offers certified protection against drone attacks with explosive charges of the category DTG5, which, inter alia, includes up to 200 grams of C4 and over 500 fragments.

A further model-specific, integral component of the standard equipment for the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 is the self-sealing fuel tank. A special sheathing ensures that the tank closes automatically following an attack in order to prevent fuel spillage. Standard runflat tyres with reinforced sidewalls allow the driver to continue the journey even after a complete loss of tyre pressure. Optional model-specific post crash functions also serve to retain mobility in extreme situations. They ensure that the engine of the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 is not switched off after a collision and that the energy supply is not interrupted.

Superior engines, model-specific suspension.

Not only in terms of design is the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 almost indistinguishable from the corresponding production model. A high degree of agility on the road and impressive off-road performance provides perfect conditions for safely mastering any situation. The necessary power comes from an extremely efficient V8 petrol engine featuring BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. The technology package comprises two turbo chargers located within the V space between the cylinder banks, one operating at an increased maximum pressure of 350 bar and the latest versions of the fully variable valve control system VALVETRONIC as well as variable twin VANOS camshaft control.

Spontaneous response and superior power development characterise the new eight-cylinder in the engine portfolio for the BMW X5. From a 4.4-litre displacement it mobilises a maximum power output of 390 kW/530 hp within a speed range of between 5,500 and 6,000 rpm. The power unit delivers a maximum torque of 750 Nm at 1,800 rpm, which remains available up to 4,600 rpm. Therefore, the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 is by far the most powerful vehicle within the competitive environment. The supreme pulling power of its V8 engine facilitates acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.9 seconds. Top speed of the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 is electronically limited to 210 km/h.

Design and tuning of the suspension for the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 are both oriented towards the outstanding engine performance and the model-specific weight of the security vehicle. The components and systems, which have been precisely aligned and combined into a harmonious overall package, guarantee maximum agility as well as an outstanding level of comfort. The construction of the suspension comprises a double wishbone front axle and a five-arm rear axle as well as a specifically reinforced steel spring system and electronically controlled dampers with independent characteristic diagrams. 20-inch light alloy wheels with mixed tyres permit enhanced lateral acceleration and maximum track stability during dynamic cornering. The sports brake system also guarantees constantly high braking performance even under extreme conditions.

Active Roll Stabilisation contributes additionally to the supreme handling characteristics of the new BMW X5 Protection VR6. The vehicle’s electric swivel motors ensure fast and precise compensation of body roll during dynamic cornering. Furthermore, they actively counter the vibrations triggered by unevenness on one side of the road. As a result, the vehicle’s self-steering and load change behaviour are both noticeably optimised. Therefore, Active Roll Stabilisation enhances the comfort, agility and stability of the new BMW X5 Protection VR6.

Moreover, the standard equipment of the security vehicle also includes Integral Active Steering. The front and rear wheels steer in opposing directions or turn in the same direction depending on the current speed. Thus, agility during cornering and stability during lane change are enhanced, as are the manoeuvrability of the vehicle in city traffic and parking.

Comprehensive comfort and safety features, individual options.

Thanks to its integrated safety concept, the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 is equipped to cope with every-day traffic conditions as well as those situations requiring special protection and flexible reactions. At the same time, it offers the degree of sportiness, versatility and comfort that is characteristic of the BMW X5. There are four seats available in the generously sized interior. Due to the holistic development concept, convenient entry and exit as well as all-round visibility offered by the production vehicle are fully retained.

The windscreen and front section of the side windows come as standard with heating function. The security glazing features electric windows on the driver’s side. Optionally, electric windows can also be installed at the passenger’s side. In addition, the opening height of the windows at the front can be limited to around ten centimetres to enable communication with the outside world and the exchange of documents while preventing larger objects from entering the vehicle.

Standard model-specific features of the BMW X5 Protection VR6 include an intercom and an attack alarm system. The intercom facilitates communication with persons outside the vehicle without the need to open doors or windows. For this purpose, exterior mirror-integrated microphones, an external loudspeaker and a hands-free microphone, which is installed in the roof liner, as well as additional internal loudspeakers, are used. The attack alarm function ensures at the push of a button that the doors are automatically locked and the windows on the driver’s and passenger’s side are closed. Furthermore, audible and visual alarms are activated. Control elements for the system as well as further model-specific functions are installed in an additional switch panel in front of the gear selector lever.

Standard equipment features include, inter alia, 4-zone automatic climate control, a hi-fi loudspeaker system, Ambient Light, Automatic Soft Close for the doors and the M leather steering wheel. Additional standard features are the BMW Live Cockpit Professional, the multi-display set-up of which comprises a fully digital instrument cluster and a 12.3-inch control display enabling the driver of the BMW X5 Protection VR6 to use the diverse online-based services from BMW Connected and BMW ConnectedDrive. This also includes the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, a system that facilitates the operation of numerous functions by means of natural voice commands.

The range of optional equipment also includes, inter alia, comfort seats, Active Seat Ventilation and a massage function, Rear Seat Entertainment Professional and glass applications for selected control elements. Furthermore, all exterior colours, seat upholsteries and interior trim strips available for the SAV can be chosen for individualising the BMW X5 Protection VR6. Additional ease of manoeuvrability is provided by a reversing camera and Surround View, including the Remote 3D View function, which transmits a live image of the vehicle and its surroundings to the customer’s smartphone. BMW Laser Light with Selective Beam, which increases the high beam range to more than 500 metres, is also available for the security vehicle as an alternative to the standard LED headlights.

Moreover, additional optional features designed to suit each model are available for each desired purpose. Therefore, the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 can be additionally equipped, for example, with LED front flashers in the radiator grille, rear flashers, roof-mounted light beacons including signal tone system, a roof antenna with additional receiver for digital radio as well as armour-plating for the vehicle batteries. A pennant holder is also available for representation purposes.

BMW offers customers discreet and confidential advice from experienced experts. A high degree of flexibility with regard to customer needs leads to individual solutions. A further network of qualified BMW service partners guarantees reliable support with regard to maintenance, repair and supply of parts. Special driver training is also offered.

The new BMW X5 Protection VR6: a genuine BMW for customised protection.

Like all of the Bavarian brand’s security vehicles, the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 was subjected to a comprehensive testing regime. This includes test and calibration drives within the framework of the serial development process, which guarantee reliable performance and function also under extreme conditions.

The security vehicle is already fitted with its unique suspension technology at the BMW Spartanburg plant in the US federal state of South Carolina, where the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 is produced alongside the production model variants of the SAV. The subsequent integration of protective equipment and further model-specific safety features by highly qualified experts at the manufacturer’s special plant in Toluca, Mexico, offers uncompromising implementation of the holistic safety concept. As opposed to retro-fitted armoured vehicles, which may compromise security or have components subjected to excessive loads, production is carried out according to stringent BMW quality standards.

Ballistic testing is carried out by an independent state testing authority to verify the resistance effect of the armouring and security glazing in accordance with internationally recognised guidelines. However, the ballistic tests exceed by far the usual requirements. In addition to the required 90 and 45-degree ballistic tests, the test scenario is supplemented by gunfire from additional angles in order to best reflect realistic conditions. The official testing and certification of the entire vehicle provides evidence of the reliability of the safety concept as a whole.

Unique experience: the first BMW security vehicle was built more than 40 years ago.

All over the world, private individuals, officials and celebrities alike rely on security vehicles from BMW. The high reputation is built not least on a unique tradition. The BMW Group has more than 40 years of experience in the development and production of security vehicles with model-specific protective equipment. As early as in 1978, BMW presented the first security vehicle based on a BMW 7 Series sedan. Even then, the BMW 733i High Security offered a holistic security concept and hence considerable advantages compared to retro-fitted security vehicles. For each of the following generations, a high security version of the luxury sedan was also produced.

Further security vehicles were built based on the BMW 3 Series and the BMW 5 Series. In 2004, the BMW X5 Security was the first Sports Activity Vehicle with model-specific protective equipment to arrive on the market. In 2009, the BMW X5 Security Plus was the first vehicle of its kind to comply with the requirements of resistance class 6. With the new BMW X5 Protection VR6, the fourth generation of the SAV is now offered as a security vehicle. The equipment features designed to offer protection against attacks and other hazards have been consistently further developed during the course of time. Thus, once again, the new BMW X5 Protection VR6 sets benchmarks in the protection of persons at risk.

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