BMW has released details of a new, armoured X5 that goes by the name VR6. We’re sure Volkswagen will be thrilled.
The X5 Protection VR6 has acquired the name normally associated with VW’s single-block ‘V6 that isn’t’ thanks to it meeting a specific standard of protection known by the same three characters.
‘Resistance class VR6’ refers to the toughened SUV’s ability to withstand a certain grade of gunfire and explosions according to the test criteria of the VPAM (Prüfstellen für Angriffshemmende Materialien und Konstruktionen). We can only imagine how much fun it must be to be one of the people who tests that kind of thing.
Moulded components made from high-strength steel fit perfectly around the passenger shell, cocooning the occupants in safety. The glass is 33mm thick, features an internal polycarbonate layer and can withstand ‘impact weapons’ as well as bullets.
At the door gaps and bodywork joins there are overlapping armour plates to eliminate weak spots. You can happily(ish) ignore gunfire from any angle from the most common automatic rifle in the world, the AK-47. The cabin can also withstand explosions from up to 15kg of TNT from as close as four metres away. After any primary attack is detected, the windows lock in place to prevent them being forced open manually from outside.
There’s an armoured floor that can protect against German Army-spec DM51 hand grenades. Fibre composite reinforcement also guards against the extremely dangerous HG85 grenade used by the Swiss army. The reinforced roof can be upgraded to a very armoured one as an option to protect against drone attacks using up to 200 grams of C4 explosive.
Reading between the lines of the BMW press release it seems that the Protection VR6 was planned right from the current X5 generation’s first sheet of blank paper. That meant that BMW was constantly able to identify the potential weak points in terms of bullet/explosion-proofing, designing integrated heavy-duty solutions alongside the car’s main development timeline. Neat business, BMW.
Naturally the suspension is unique and much strengthened. Steel coils are ‘specifically reinforced’ while 20-inch light-alloy wheels help make the much heavier VR6 feel like any other X5. Under the bonnet is a 4.4-litre petrol V8 with the turbos turned up to 11. There’s 523bhp and 553lb ft of torque to shove the X5 along, and as such it gets to 62mph in a very respectable 5.9 seconds.
Body roll is compensated for by Active Roll Stabilisation that both reduces lean during cornering and counters road vibrations suffered on only one side of the car. There’s four-wheel steering, a host of usual X5 features and the option to have police-spec lights installed behind the grille and at the rear. Tempting.
Finally, if you buy one BMW will also offer to teach you how to drive it in the kinds of defensive scenarios it was built for, which is a nice touch. Just the thing for the school run.