Check out the interior of this BMW 7 Series. Notice anything unusual?
Surely you can see that the A-pillars and door/window frames look exceptionally chunky. They are, and that's because they're meant to withstand this:
So this is BMW's recently-unveiled 7 Series Protection. For some 45 years the company has quietly been building bulletproof versions of their cars, for those with extra security needs. The company's newly-evolved approach is to design and build the car to be ballistic- and explosion-resistant from the get-go, starting with the BMW Protection Core, "which sees the entire supporting structure for a protection sedan's body constructed from armour steel for the first time," the company writes.
"Its three-dimensionally engineered elements are all made of exceptionally resistant, hot-formed steel alloys. The BMW Protection Core forms a self-supporting protective cell, which is then combined with protection-spec doors, armouring for the underbody and safety glass."
"Special armouring designed to offer maximum protection against explosives in particular has been used for both the roof and underbody of the two protection sedans. This means the occupants are also protected from drone attacks with explosive charges, for example, and from fragments dispersed by hand grenades on detonation."
"Also to be found on the list of standard security features for the BMW 7 Series Protection is a self-sealing fuel tank, with special casing that enables it to seal itself after being hit by a bullet to prevent any loss of fuel."
This approach, of starting from the inside-out, "offers major advantages over armouring a finished vehicle at a later date," the company reckons. Because they're starting with beefy materials, rather than attaching beefy materials to a regular frame/chassis, the interior space isn't as compromised. Additionally, there's a weight savings, which "has a particularly positive effect on the protection sedans' handling abilities. The optimised weight combines with the increase in body rigidity (another benefit of the BMW Protection Core) to deliver unrivalled levels of agility. This all translates into extremely precise handling control, even when they are being driven hard, such as when escaping from an attack."
The 4.4-liter V8 can sprint 0-100kph (0-62 mph) in 6.6 seconds. (The electric i7 Protection version is oddly slower, at 9 seconds.)
The vehicle is sneakily equipped with four-wheel steering, reducing its turning radius, useful for getting out of sticky situations. Cameras all around the exterior of the vehicle provide a surround view to occupants inside. There's also unseen microphones and speakers both inside and outside the car, which "allows the car's occupants to communicate with people on the outside without having to open doors or windows."
Options include "a fresh-air supply system, a fire extinguisher with automatic and manual discharge, flashing lights, radio transceivers and flag poles for when the car is on official duty, plus other special customer-specific options."
The vehicles were unveiled at this month's IAA Mobility Show (formerly the International Motor Show) in Germany.
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