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This armored BMW X5 is designed to protect against drone attacks

You may think your daily commute is rough, but certain parts of the world require vehicles equipped with more than just cupholders and adaptive cruise control. The BMW X5 Protection VR6 is an armored version of BMW’s X5 SUV. The “VR6” in the name denotes the vehicle’s level of armor protection, which is enough to stop bullets from an AK-47 assault rifle, according to BMW. The X5 can also be equipped to handle a variety of other threats — including drone attacks.

BMW reinforced the X5 with high-strength steel panels in the doors, body sides, roof, and firewall. The panels were molded to fit the existing shape of the vehicle, so it still looks like an ordinary X5 on the outside. The side windows, windshield, and rear window were replaced with safety glass 1.1 inches thick. The glass can withstand strikes from handheld weapons, and includes splinter protection to keep vehicle occupants from getting cut, according to BMW.

The armored floor of the SUV can withstand the blast from a grenade, BMW claims, and can be upgraded with additional composite material. Buyers can also get a reinforced roof designed to protect against drones dropping explosive charges on the car. It can withstand a blast from up to 200 grams (0.44 pounds) of C4 explosive, according to BMW.

The best way to survive an attack is to avoid it in the first place. The X5 Protection VR6 is equipped with BMW’s ubiquitous 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8, making 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. That’s the same output as the M50i version of the standard X5. BMW claims the armored X5 will do zero to 62 mph in 5.9 seconds, while the top speed is electronically limited to 130 mph. Despite having more power than a non-armored V8 X5, the Protection VR6 is slower in acceleration, likely due to the added weight of the armor.

To help escape from an attack, BMW equipped the X5 with tires that allow it to keep moving even after a complete loss of pressure. The fuel tank is also self-sealing to prevent spills. A post-crash system ensures the engine won’t turn off after a collision, enabling swift getaways. The Protection VR6 is also equipped with some of the tech available in the standard X5, including four-wheel steering and Active Roll Stabilization, which actively counteracts body roll to improve handling.

The armored X5 acts as a bunker on wheels for its four occupants. An intercom allows passengers to communicate with the outside world, and a standard attack alarm automatically locks the doors, closes the windows, flashes the lights, and creates a loud sound at the push of a button. But this armored SUV is still a BMW, so it also gets massaging seats, four-zone climate control, and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen with digital assistant.

BMW won’t discuss pricing of the X5 Protection VR6, but it likely commands a significant premium over the non-armored X5 M50i, which starts at $83,145. If you’re equal parts wealthy and paranoid, you have plenty of choices, as it’s also possible to get an armored Audi, Volvo, or Mercedes-Benz.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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