There’s a scene in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies where Bond fends off a pack of goons while secured inside a BMW 750iL sedan. The assailants try their best to penetrate the Bimmer with sledgehammers and ultimately take to shooting at it with machine guns, all of which the sedan resists throughout a car chase, until Bond finally finds a way to defeat his pursuers.
While the car is fully loaded with all sorts of fantastical Q Branch gizmos, it turns out the reality of a bulletproofed BMW isn’t too far from the film fiction. In fact, BMW has been offering them for over 40 years. They’re called BMW Protection vehicles and the latest comes in the form of the current BMW 7-Series, including the i7, making it the first armored sedan with a fully-electric powertrain.
BMW i7 Protection sounds like it’s an AppleCare-like warranty for your luxury four-door, but it’s the official name for armored versions of the automaker’s new EV flagship sedan. The basis is the normal non-bulletproof i7 M70 xDrive model that offers dual-motor all-wheel drive and up to 544 horsepower. From there, the car is then assembled with the BMW Protection Core, a self-supporting protective cell that’s reinforced with other forms of armoring throughout the rest of the car. This includes ballistic-resistant safety glass, armored doors, as well as a protected underbody and roof to protect occupants from drones and grenades, concerns oft-unaddressed in a conventional BMW spec sheet.
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The extra protection does add a few extra pounds to the full-sized sedan, but BMW states one of the benefits to handling this service in-house is that it can better implement weight-saving during the assembly process and also optimally distribute it better than an aftermarket armoring service. This allows it to remain nimble for daily driving but also strategic evacuations from a hostile area.
It doesn’t seem as if the i7’s battery pack warrants any extra specific armoring, though the gas-powered 4.4-liter V8 760i xDrive version does have a fuel tank that can self-seal bullet holes. All told, the 7-Series protection cars are VR9 certified, a standard of protection set by VPAM, an internationally recognized test criteria developed in Germany. This means it’s resistant to higher-caliber rounds and even some armor-piercing bullets.
Inside, the hardened BMW is still a BMW, with a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system, premium materials and all the luxury accessories one would expect. Naturally, there are a few exclusive options like a fire suppression system and a fresh-air supply system in case you get gassed.
We’re not going to lie, it’s pretty wild to see this stuff offered straight from the source, and the fact that BMW has been doing it for so long is, in a way, a testament to its “Ultimate Driving Machine” mission statement — seeing as how diplomats and other at-risk individuals refuse to compromise on BMW’s brand of luxury performance, even if their lives are on the line. If you haven’t put an order in, now’s the time to do so as deliveries start at the end of the year.
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