Remember the BMW X5 Protection VR6 unveiled in August 2019? Well, BMW South Africa has quietly added the armoured vehicle to its local range.

While no pricing information is listed, it’s worth keeping in mind the Munich-based firm offers an extensive range of optional special equipment, allowing buyers to tailor the vehicle to their requirements.

As a reminder, BMW says this version of the X5 will seat four and offer “customised protection against violent attacks, kidnapping or organised crime”. The company claims the X5 Protection VR6 (here, of course, “VR6” refers to the resistance class) is “almost identical to the production model” in terms of driving characteristics, cabin quality and design.

Under the armoured skin, though, the suspension and brakes have been upgraded to handle the increased weight. According to the German automaker, the idea of an armoured model was kept in mind during the development of this latest generation of the X5. The company claims there are “decisive advantages” to this approach – in contrast to retro-fitting armouring – in terms of the effectiveness of the protective equipment and the vehicle's handling characteristics.

From what we can tell, the X5 Protection VR6 is based on the X5 M50i variant, employing BMW’s turbocharged 4,4-litre V8, which offers 390 kW and 750 N.m. The sprint from standstill to 100 km/h takes a claimed 5,9 seconds (some 1,6 seconds slower than standard thanks to all that extra weight), while top speed is electronically limited to 210 km/h (rather than 250 km/h).

The interior offers passengers what BMW calls “an extremely high level of protection against attacks with firearms and/or explosive devices”. An armoured passenger compartment, an aluminium underbody splinter shield, an armoured luggage compartment partition and security glazing are all standard.

Multi-layered safety glass (with a thickness of around 33 mm for the windscreen, doors and luggage compartment partition wall) is employed and is rated to withstand AK-47 attacks. Furthermore, BMW says the armoured passenger compartment can withstand lateral blasts of up to 15 kg of TNT from four metres.

The armour-plated floor offers protection against DM51 hand grenades, while enhanced underbody reinforcement comprising fibre-composite materials is optionally available, along with an "extensively armoured" roof.

A special sheathing ensures the fuel tank closes automatically following an attack in order to prevent fuel spillage, while standard runflat tyres with reinforced sidewalls are included in the package. Other standard model-specific features of the X5 Protection VR6 include an intercom and an attack alarm system.

*Hat tip to Edward Makwana (former manager for group automotive communications at BMW SA) for making us aware of the X5 Protection VR6’s local arrival.


See Full BMW X5 price and specs here