Aussie PM’s bullet-proof BMW scores an update; becomes ultimate Toorak tank

2024 BMW X5 Protection can withstand rounds from an AK-47

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In news sure to attract the attention of politicians, celebrities, dictators and shady businessmen across the world, a new version of the BMW X5 Protection VR6 has been revealed.

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Updated X5 Protection brings styling tweaks, higher-tech cabin and the ability to withstand an AK-47 assault

Claimed to be the world’s best-selling armoured vehicle, the BMW X5 Protection VR6 can withstand rounds from an AK-47 and is often used by the Australian Federal Police to ferry about high-value ‘At risk’ individuals.

That occasionally includes our Prime Minister, although he’s mostly transported in a heavily armoured, blast-resistant version of the BMW 7 Series, which has also recently been upgraded.

The updated X5 VR6 – which refers to its protection rating – brings it into line with the regular 2024 X5 and includes tweaked exterior styling and an updated cabin that moves to BMW’s curved widescreen digital display.

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The goal, of course, is discretion and to make the VR6’s appearance indistinguishable from a regular X5 despite its heavily armoured body and 33mm thick windows.

The 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, which churns out 390kW/750Nm, is now supplemented by a 48-volt sub-system and despite the extra heft of its armoured plating, the VR6 can hit 0-100km/h in a sprightly 5.9 seconds.

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Adaptive M suspension is also standard, as is active-roll stabilisation and four-wheel steering, with these chassis system’s designed to make the X5 VR6 as capable and as nimble as possible should a fast getaway be needed.

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When it’s not dodging bullets, the X5 VR6 offers the same sense of luxury as a regular X5 thanks to Merino leather upholstery, ambient lighting, a hi-fi sound system, soft-close doors and four-zone climate control.

For more detail on how the BMW X5 VR6 protects its occupants, check out our original story below.

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August 2019: It’s not just soccer mums and urban dwellers who are eschewing sedans for SUVs, with BMW’s new X5 catering for ‘those at risk’.

Cladded with the latest in armoured plating, BMW’s high-riding bullet-proof machine is called the VR6, named after its VR rating which is simply a certified ballistics resistance; levels 4, 6, 7, and 9 are the most commonly used on vehicles. While BMW’s armoured bus looks mostly the same to any other car in the X5 range, it can withstand bullets shot at the windows from an AK-47 assault rifle, and cruise along if explosives detonate underneath it.

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Impressive protection around the glasshouse comes from 33mm thick, multilayered polycarbonate-reinforced glass. Elsewhere the metal panels are replaced with high-strength steel armour plating which overlaps at the joins, and underneath is an aluminium underbody splinter shield designed to withstand DM51 grenades. We’re guessing they’d do a bit of damage to a run-of-the-mill SUV.

The sum of the parts is good enough to protect occupants in the hopefully unlikely scenario of a lateral blast of up to 15 kilograms of TNT from a distance of four metres. Post-blast protective technology further helps the car from secondary attacks. However unlikely a scenario may seem in the ’burbs of Australia, BMW says it has a number of clients at such risk.

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“All over the world, private individuals, officials and celebrities alike rely on security vehicles from BMW... [which] offers private individuals and persons at risk customised protection against violent attacks, kidnapping or organised crime. This is often a decisive criterion, especially in regions like South America, Africa or Russia.”

The former country’s clients will appreciate a short delivery time from the Spartanburg, USA plant where the VR6 is built. And for those with a really big target on their backs, further protection is on the options list like an armoured roof to protect against drone attack, a fibre composite floor to protect against HG85 hand grenades, and post-crash functions to retain mobility in extreme situations.

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Powering the VR6 is the X5 M50i’s 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine, producing 390kW at 5500-6000rpm and 750Nm at 1800rpm, which BMW says makes the vehicle the most powerful in its niche segment. With all of the added armour it’s sure to weigh considerably more than a standard X5, but BMW hasn’t provided any figures from the scales, instead claiming the cladded tank will get away from a standstill to 100km/h in 5.9sec.

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The X5 VR6 is just one of many armoured vehicles to come from the Bavarian maker, starting in 1978 with its work on the 7 Series sedan that inspired 3 and 5 Series cars to suit warlords and unpopular celebrities since.

Digital Editor New Car
Alex Rae


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