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2008-08-27 10:33
BMW’s X5 Security. Looks good and protects occupan

BMW’s X5 Security. Looks good and protects occupants against 44 Magnum fire. Pray the hijackers don’t have AK-47s though.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer BMW
Model X5 Security
Engine 4.8-litre V8
Power 261kW
Torque 475Nm
Owe Vernon Koekermoer money? Enjoy vacationing in Basra? BMW’s X5 Security might just be the SUV for you.

Featuring the softened second generation X5 styling and ample V8 power in the form of BMW’s 261kW 4.8-litre engine, the extra weight of its extensive bullet-proofing is well offset by 475Nm of torque.

BMW is obviously mum concerning the exact technical details and subsequent armour plating mass penalty, suffice to say much of the X5’s dynamic virtues should be more or less in tact.

The Bavarian manufacturer is one of the few global auto makers who have a dedicated security car division. Marketing is always a low key affair when you’re selling cars to some of the world’s most notorious people.

A legend made in the Balkans

On February 7th 1996, EU mediator Hans Koschnick found himself in the middle of an ambush in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. His bodyguard took a wrong turn and drove into a riotous mob of Croatian nationalists who were determined to kill the German diplomat.

For the next 50 minutes, Koschnick's armoured BMW was attacked with fists, bottles and bullets as he frantically radioed for help.

When police eventually escorted the badly dinged and scratched BMW 7 Series away from the scene its occupants were fine; despite the rear window looking a little tired after absorbing seven point blank range 9mm pistol shots.

An unsavoury incident perhaps, but it cemented BMW security vehicles reputation.

Armoured SUVs in vogue

The world’s notorious and adventurous have tired of driving around in plutocratic 7 Series saloons. Not immune to the SUV fad demand has justified a X5 Security detail vehicle.

Components and panels are made from a special high-performance fibre-reinforced material – and if BMW told you exactly what it was, they’d probably have to kill you.

This material is used in the side panels, roof, front footwell and the rear. Some parts are also reinforced by bullet-proof steel for enhanced protection - which is to be expected really.

Circumferential safety glazing with a 22mm thickness withstands attacks with impact weapons and is also bullet resistant to VR4 ballistic protection level – a first for SUV security vehicles.

The windows are reinforced with an additional polycarbonate layer that offers passengers protection from shattered glass.

All-round video vision

With the help of high-performance camera systems the driver can easily monitor the area in front and behind the vehicle.

A rear-view camera transmits an image to the iDrive control display situated in the instrument panel to allow the driver to assess the vehicle's distance to obstacles without the need to look behind.

Side view system cameras integrated into the bumpers provide a detailed view of the area in front of the vehicle. They also transmit an image to the control display. This system helps detect crossing traffic when exiting multi-story car parks or narrow driveways.

Among others, specific chassis components such as suspension and dampers were integrated and the chassis management software was adapted to suit the specific requirements of security vehicles. Moreover, the BMW X5 Security is equipped with BMW Safety Tyres.

Even during complete loss of tire pressure- as a result of a shooting or after driving over sharp objects, for example - the tyres still function. A fully loaded vehicle can thus continue safely for up to 50km at speeds of up to 80km/h.

Protection yes, but tough enough?

Protection on level VR4 (which the X5 has) renders 9mm fire ineffective; so insurgents with their Makarov pistols will only scratch up the paint. You won't make Dirty Harry's day either as 44 Magnum rounds don’t penetrate the X5 Security B4 armour. Impressive? Not quite.

In the real world, unfortunately, security detail business deals are done in the Middle-East and Africa, where the weapon of choice is the venerable AK-47, which will poke neat holes in your X5 security.

BMW X5 Security, great for driving around the worst parts of Marseilles, rather out of sorts for stylish protection in the developing world.

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