In the latest 7 Series images released by BMW, the window glasses appear severely cracked, but structurally intact. The body is punctured with hundreds of bullet holes, but the interior appears calm and serene. There are no shards of glass lying on the floor or the seats, and the stitched leather looks as good as new. That’s because the vehicle in question isn’t the regular 7 Series, it’s the latest Protection model.
The BMW i7 and the 7 Series G70 models have undergone the VR9 treatment, which is among the highest levels of ballistic certification for civilian vehicles. Developed by BMW in-house, and manufactured at the BMW Plant Dingolfing, the automaker told InsideEVs that the i7 Protection is the world's "first OEM engineered and protected sedan in the class VR9."
The i7 Protection’s body is made from armored steel, and BMW says it can sustain 7.62 X 54 R ammunition, which as per one website, are armor-piercing rounds. For protection against bullets, the exterior comprises hot-formed steel alloy, while the roof and underbody are also made from armored materials for protection from aerial attacks and explosives.
On the ICE version, the fuel tank incorporates a special casing that can seal itself upon being hit by a bullet to prevent fuel loss.
The tires too appear purpose-built. It gets 20-inch alloys and Michelin PAX run-flat tires, which can run at 50 miles per hour even with total pressure loss. The images reveal a thick sidewall, which could be one of the few visual differentiators between a regular 7 Series, and the armored one.
Speaking of differentiators, BMW says it wanted to make the protection models look as discreet as possible, which is why the run-flat tires and the flag holder above the front fenders are the only unique visual elements.
BMW told InsideEVs that the i7 Protection's unladen weight (EU) is 4,450 kilograms (9,810 pounds), while the maximum weight is 4,900 kg (10,800 pounds). For comparison, the US-spec i7 M70 has a curb weight of 2,808 kg (6,191 pounds). So the armor add-ons amount to an additional 1642 kg or 3,619 pounds, or roughly the same as an entire Toyota RAV4.
Customers can also accessorize the Protection models with items like a fresh air-supply system, fire extinguishers with automatic and manual discharge, flashing lights, and radio transceivers among others.
The i7 Protection would use motors from the i7 M70. The two motors will deliver 544 horsepower and 549 pound-feet of torque. With all the armor weighing it down, the sprint from 0-62 mph is rather leisurely at 9.0 seconds. The top speed is limited to 99 mph.
The exact range figures haven’t been released yet, but BMW says the estimated WLTP efficiency is 30 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometers. Considering the i7’s 101.7 kWh of usable battery capacity, the estimated range would be around 210 miles. That’s considerably lower than the range of the regular i7 M70, which has an estimated range of 295 miles.
Gallery: BMW i7 Protection And 7 Series Protection
The sedan will match the luxury of its non-ballistic counterpart with swanky features like the BMW Curved Display, 28-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system, and reclining seats with footrests among a plethora of other features BMW pampers its 7 Series customers with.
Although the 31-inch 8K retractable screen doesn’t seem to be a standard fitment on this model. But again, someone who needs protection from armor-piercing rounds regularly probably doesn’t have time to sit back and stream movies. The carmaker told us that the target audience was "authorities, state leaders, and private persons."
BMW has kept the price a secret, and the model will be exclusive to Europe. The i7 M70 has an MSRP of $168,500 in the US, so expect the armored version to cost more. What do you think of the i7 Protection? Leave your thoughts in the comments.