Making enemies? The BMW X5 now comes in bulletproof form | Top Gear
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Making enemies? The BMW X5 now comes in bulletproof form

The armoured X5 should be handy protection against environmental activists, angry neighbours and terrorists, etc

Published: 30 Aug 2023

BMW’s latest version of its X5 SUV is seemingly so divisive that it’s had to launch a bulletproofed version so that drivers can go out in it.

Well, not quite – you’ll be buying the beefed up X5 if people don’t like you for other reasons, but as least you’ll feel safe inside. The new X5 Protection VR6 is fitted with safety glass, high strength steel at strategic points and meets Germany’s VPAM standards for bullets and bomb resistance. It’s even got a strengthened bulkhead between the boot and passenger compartment, which probably helps if you buy a lot of smelly cheeses from the supermarket. 

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We like the stealthier look of the car – no point making yourself an obvious target – that BMW describes as “an understated appearance with a sporting flavour”. The headlights and grille have been tweaked, while the Protection gets a few black bodywork accents usually reserved for M-badged models. 

Other mods include a self-sealing fuel tank and an intercom system for communicating with people outside of the car. Presumably to ask them nicely if they’d stop firing things at you. Optional extras include flashing lights, a roof antenna for two-way radio systems, flag poles and further armouring for the roof and underbody of the car. Better safe than sorry, we always say.

This version of the X5 is a four-seater, and BMW says that the occupants don’t miss out on any space even with the amendments that have been made. Each person gets their own zone of climate control, so there’ll be no violent disagreements inside about what the temperature should be. 

Under the bonnet is BMW’s 4.4-litre V8 producing 523bhp and 553lb ft of torque (with some help from the 48V mild hybrid system), which means 0–62mph in 5.9 seconds and a limited top speed of 130mph. The X5 Protection VR6 is also rated at 21.1mpg and 305g/km CO2 emissions. Doesn’t make it ideal as a company car, but hopefully the office is willing to chip in a bit if your work results in threats on your life.

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This version of the X5 rolls off the same line as the civilian X5 models at Spartanburg in South Carolina, with the ballistic upgrades added after main production. Rumour has it the protection measures were tested by driving the car out of the front gates.

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