The BMW i7 Protection made its debut on Wednesday and is billed by BMW as the first armored sedan with an electric powertrain. It makes its formal debut in early September at the 2023 Munich auto show, together with an armored version of the gas-powered 7-Series.
It appears the big battery in the floor of the i7 Protection, in this case a lithium-ion unit with a usable capacity of 101.7 kwh, is no impediment to armor protection as the vehicle has been certified with a VR9 safety rating from Germany’s VPAM, an association of test labs for ballistic materials and construction.
That’s the highest rating for civilian vehicles and means the i7 Protection’s body and glass provide resistance to military-grade small arms like M14 and FAL-FN rifles from 33 feet, and at least three shots from a heavy machine gun like an M60, from a similar distance. The vehicle is also able to withstand aerial drone attacks with explosive charges, as well as hand grenade attacks, according to BMW.
Key to the vehicle’s strength is what BMW refers to as the Protection Core. This is a self-supporting body structure made from armor steel that is then combined with additional armor plating for the underbody, roof, and doors. Mercedes-Benz relies on a similar concept for its armored S-Class sedan.
Armored glass is used for the windows, while the fuel tank gets a special casing that is able to seal itself after being hit by a bullet. The wheels are 20-inch light alloys wrapped with Michelin PAX run-flats. Even when punctured, these tires enable the vehicle to travel at speeds of up to 50 mph.
Despite all the extra protective gear, the interior remains as plush as in any other member of the 7-Series, though here too there are additional protective elements. These include an onboard air system to protect against a gas or fire attack. Flashing lights, radios, and a panic alarm system can also be added should the buyer desire.
The i7 Protection borrows the powertrain from the i7 M70 xDrive, a dual-motor all-wheel-drive setup that is rated here at a peak 544 hp. Performance is hindered by the extra weight of the armor protection, with BMW quoting a 0-62 mph time of nine seconds and a top speed capped at 99 mph. The automaker hasn’t mentioned what range owners can expect.
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The gas-powered version gets a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 good for 523 hp.
Deliveries of the i7 Protection and the gas-powered 7-Series Protection start late this year.