For decades now, BMW has been building some of the most luxurious in-house armored vehicles, from stretched E38 7 Series sedans to stealthy X5 crossovers. Sure, the world’s leaders have historically favored bulletproof Benzes, but there’s a certain allure to an armored BMW. Now, the brand is taking asset protection in a new direction while sticking to what they know with the new 7 Series Protection. Available with two very different powertrains, it’s coming soon to a G7 country near you.
Right out of the gate, the BMW 7 Series Protection is VPAM VR9 ballistics certified for up to 7.62×51 mm ammunition, so anything with a velocity of 2,690 feet per second (820 m/s) shouldn’t puncture the armored passenger compartment. This is also equivalent to PAS 300 ballistics BA-M certification, if we want to get nerdy. The 7 Series Protection also passes PAS 300 blast resistance testing, for a little extra peace of mind. However, the projectile- and blast-resistance isn’t the astonishing part of this armored 7 Series — it’s the powertrain choice.
Sure, you could choose the 760i xDrive’s proven option of a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 pumping out 530 horsepower and 533 lb.-ft. of torque. With a manufacturer-claimed zero-to-60 time of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph, it should outrun most threats no problem. However, global governments have been heavily touting green initiatives, and BMW is letting them amp up the optics with the i7 Protection. Sure, it may only top out at 99 mph and have a zero-to-60 time of nine seconds flat, but it’s a more sustainable way to chauffeur around top-level bureaucrats. Drive to a public appearance, charge up while a speech is being made or a ribbon is getting cut, drive home. Range isn’t a real concern because any longer trips simply involve flying, and electric propulsion leads by example.
Alright, so the choice of powertrains is pretty cool. What else makes the new 7 Series Protection special? Well, defensive measures go much further than mere armoring. Depending on global location, firearms can be hard to get, but toxic gas? That’s why you’re not supposed to store bleach and ammonia together. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that this fortified luxobarge gets a fresh air supply for fighting gas attacks. Oh, and if incendiary devices are being used, an onboard fire extinguisher system can trigger automatically to temper flames. Sadly, there’s no word on available door-mounted firearms you could get in the ’90s, but I’m sure that if you’re the head of a small state, it may be possible to work out some *ahem* custom arrangements.
As part of the anti-terrorism package, the 7 Series Protection rolls on the Michelin PAX system, the weird rigid ring run-flat tire that plagued Honda Odyssey and Bugatti Veyron owners alike. Requiring special equipment to mount and dismount while costing a fortune, the PAX system is a terrible choice for a daily driver but an excellent armored car decision. The hard plastic ring sitting around the wheel provides high-speed run-flat capabilities without significantly degrading ride quality.
On the inside, expect to be pampered with almost all the toys available in a regular 7 Series like a curved infotainment display, privacy blinds, illuminated crystal trim, and a 28-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system. It’s a huge step up in backseat luxury over the outgoing model, and it makes the rear seat of the new S-Class look a little basic. However, there’s no mention of the massive 31.3-inch 8K rear seat entertainment screen being available, possibly due to functional reasons.
So how soon will the BMW 7 Series Protection hit the streets? Expect the first ones to be delivered this December, so it should make for one hell of a Christmas gift. While BMW hasn’t announced which very important people have ordered this bullet-resistant barge, don’t be surprised to see G7 leaders on the clientele list.
(Photo credits: BMW)
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