BMW X5 Protection VR6 revised with 530hp V8

The armoured X5 looks a lot like the old one, and any other model, but then that's exactly the point…

By Matt Bird / Tuesday, 29 August 2023 / Loading comments

Every main character needs a sidekick, a buddy to help out when duty calls. That’s the role played by this new X5 Protection VR6, a car BMW says is ‘ideally suited to the role of support vehicle alongside the new protection vehicles based on the BMW 7 Series’. The bomb shelter-spec saloons are there to shuffle at-risk dignitaries wherever they must, with the muscle provided (and transported) by the big and burly SUVs. Quite the convoy they look set to make, too.

If all else fails, the X5 is going to get the crew out of trouble swiftly and discreetly – no concerns here about the weight of armour on an EV, or range. It’s based on the M60i model, meaning a mild-hybrid twin turbo V8 (like an X7 M60i) to generate 530hp and 553lb ft; even with the armoured body and safety glass included, BMW reckons it can crack 62mph in 5.9 seconds – or just 1.6 behind standard. Top speed is 130mph, presumably limited by the tyre choice. But it’s a whole lot brisker than an i7, rest assured.

Much of the X5’s safety kit is recognisable from the saloons. High-strength steel is ‘harmoniously integrated’ around the doors, roof, sides and bulkhead; there’s an armoured partition for the boot and aluminium splinter guard underneath, so it’s pretty tough. The clever self-sealing fuel tank features as well. Those after maximum security can opt for ‘extended underbody armouring’ on top of (or underneath, rather) ‘additional armouring for the roof’. As pointed out by BMW at the launch of the Protection 7 Series, drone and grenade attacks must be considered as well.

With the VR6 designed to look pretty much like any other updated X5 – including 35mm narrower headlights and M badge in the grille – it’s been engineered to drive like one as well. It boasts upgraded Sport brakes to deal with the extra kilos, ‘even under heavy loads’, with adaptive M suspension Professional also standard fit. So that means the M Sport differential is included, as is Integral Active Steering (rear-wheel steer) and active anti-roll. Meaning this X5 ought to be as agile and composed as would be expected from any other model, especially having been ‘tuned precisely’ to take into account the unique weight distribution.

While the car is intended to remain calm in any situation, so the occupants should. Especially if the person behind the wheel has taken advantage of BMW’s Security driver training course. The X5’s electric heated seats are trimmed in something called Sensafin (Individual Merino leather remains available for those not keen on the vegan option), there’s ambient lighting, soft close doors and Surround View to keep an eye on all around. And to make sure plenty of folk are listening when you employ the exterior intercom. If the X5 VR6 is a little too discreet for the required official duties, it can be specced with flag poles, flashing LEDs front and rear plus ‘roof-mounted light beacons’. They’re not going to be small, surely.

The X5 Protection VR6 will make its debut at the IAA Mobility show in Munich next week alongside the saloons. While this will be built alongside the standard X5s at Spartanburg, BMW says the model-specific features are added in ‘by highly skilled experts in a craft manufacturing process’. Armour isn’t really the kind of thing you want to rush, after all. Deliveries are due to begin in February.

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