Curious about what vehicles the VIPs of the world drive? Not just your regular movie stars but heads of state and leaders of the world’s most powerful nations are driven by specially designed cars that are proofed against any unexpected attacks.
When security is a priority, transportation with appropriate armours is one you cannot go without. For VIPs around the world, carmakers have been building vehicles with bodies that are impenetrable to bullets, bombs and whatnot. Automakers have been designing such armoured, bomb-proof vehicles for a long time. It is a market that may not be widely tapped by the normal public but it is undoubtedly a large sector that is growing by the year. The Compound Annual Growth Rate of Armoured Vehicles is expected to touch $21.97 billion by the year 2026.
Although, armoured vehicles are commonly preferred by VIPs from different fields, these days their popularity has increased even among the common public. If you have endless bucks in your bank, you could cruise around in one of these bomb-proof autos and show off.
Ballistic Protection Levels
Not all armoured cars offer the same level of protection. A ballistic protection level is basically a measure with which you can scale the amount of shield an armoured car comes with. The commonly followed scale is set by the European Committee for Standardization known as the EN 1063 standard which has 7 levels from BR1 to BR7.
B1 and B2 – Protection from 9mm bullets
B3 and B4 – Withstands assault from handguns like .357 Magnum (B3) or .44 Magnum (B4) and sport rifles.
B5 – Vehicles with B5 level armours have a steel thickness of about 7.5 mm thickness and can withstand shots from AK-47s.
B6 – This level of security protects you against even armour piercing bullet rounds.
B7 – B7 is the highest level of security offered that can stop armour piercing bullets from even sniper rifles. You can get a B7 level of protection on many civilian grade vehicles. There is also B7+ level protection for special purpose vehicles that are used for patrol in high-risk war regions and for other government purposes.
In this article, we have a list of the top 6 armoured cars in the world for you to read.
Mercedes-Maybach S650 Guard
The S 650 Guard has a B7+ level of armour on its body and the 2010 Explosion Proof Vehicle rating. The car’s body shell and glass are reinforced and can protect you from explosives and armour piercing bullets. Maybach runs on a 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 engine that can push the car to run 190kmph maximum and can accelerate from 0 to 100 kmph in just 4.7 seconds.
Mercedes has built Maybach to stand even after an explosion of 15 kg TNT as close as 2 metres. Windows are coated with polycarbonate on the inside and are 4-inches in thickness. Even the underbody of the car is bomb-proof. The car windows are four-inch-thick and have a coating of polycarbonate from the inside. There is an emergency fresh-air system installed for situations involving toxic gases or heavy smoke.
For wheels, Maybach has Michelin PAX run-flat tires that can run for about 30 km even after the tires go flat. An inbuilt fire extinguisher is added to the self-sealing fuel tank which is built similar to the fuel tanks of the Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters.
The Special Protection Group of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has added the Mercedes Maybach S 650 Guard to his official convoy.
Estimated Price: Rs 12 Crore
Jaguar XJ Sentinel
Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom customarily use the Jaguar XJ Sentinel, specifically its long-wheelbase version. The XJ Sentinel comes with a number of advanced features like night vision, a titanium body and run-flat tires. Similar to the Maybach Pullman, The Sentinel also withstands high explosions at a close range and protects the passengers from sniper and grenade attacks.
The Sentinel is powered by a 385-hp V-8 engine that is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that propels the car forward from 0-100 kmph in 9.2 seconds. Even though it looks very similar to the unarmoured versions of the XJ, Jaguar has reinforced The Sentinel with upgraded suspension, bigger brakes and run-flat tires to cope with the added weight from the vehicle’s body mass.
Estimated Price: Rs 3.47 Crore
Cadillac One or The Beast as they call it in the United States of America is the Presidential Vehicle. Obviously an armoured vehicle, this one keeps us in suspense with regards to all the protection measures it features. The Secret Service has most of the high-end features under wraps with the President’s safety in mind. Of all the cars used by the leaders of the world, Cadillac One ranks 1st in terms of armoured protection.
The Beast has a military-grade armoured body, bulletproof windows, custom-built reinforced chassis, Kevlar-reinforced run-flat tires, night vision powerful enough to drive without any illumination in the dark, and firepower like a pump-action shotgun and tear gas cannon.
Cadillac One with its 1800 kg of armour has a Duramax 6.6-litre V8 supercharged diesel engine under its hood. It can reach a maximum of 160 kmph on four good tires and can still go on 80 kmph with all 4 tires flat.
Estimated Price: Rs 2.28 Crore
BMW 760Li High Security
The 760Li High Security is one of the first armoured models launched based on the BMW 7 Series that was certified with VR7 level protection. BMW has reinforced the car’s suspension, chassis and dampers to compensate for the increase in weight of the body from the extra armour. The body of the car, doors, roof, front footwell and the separation wall between passenger and luggage compartments are all covered with protective armour as well.
BMW 760Li is powered by a 6.0-litre 12-cylinder V12 engine that is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It only takes 6.2 seconds for acceleration from 0 to 100 kmph. Similar to other high-security vehicles, this car also has run-flat tires, special plating to cover the underbody, an intercom system inside with concealed microphones, assault alarms, a fire extinguishing system, temperature sensors, and an automatic ventilation shut-down system for protection against gas attacks.
Apart from these, it also has two machine guns in the centre console. Due to the level of safety offered, BMW has limited the access of this model to exclusive customers with discreet consultancy, sales and service. These vehicles require specially trained technicians to offer service support.
Estimated Price: Rs 8.7 Crore
Range Rover Sentinel
Range Rover’s Sentinel is the armoured version of the brand’s Autobiography model. It has a VR8 level ballistic protection which is equivalent to the BR6-7 level. Built by the Special Vehicle Operations Division of the company located in the UK, this SUV can withstand even DM51 explosions.
Other than the high-security features that are offered by rivals of Sentinel in this sector, Range Rover’s Sentinel also has an emergency escape system for times of crisis. Its underbody is certified STANAG 4569 which is probably the highest level of armour you could get against an explosion.
Along with an upgraded chassis, suspension and brakes, the Sentinel also gets a powerful 380bhp 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine under its hood.
Estimated Price: Rs 3.81 Crore
Audi A8 L Security
Audi unveiled the armoured sedan A8 L Security in 2020 with VR10 level ballistics protection, kept the design similar to the standard A8, added bomb-proof armour to its body and a dynamic 563-hp 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 engine with 8-speed Tiptronic transmission.
The time taken for A8 L Security to go from 0 to 100 km in an hour is 6.3 seconds. It can run on completely flat tires up to a distance of 80 km at a speed of 80 kmph. Audi also brought the top speed down to 210 kmph from the 250 kmph recorded by the standard A8.
Safety features include an intercom system that can communicate outside the vehicle without opening the windows or the doors, a fire suppression system, an emergency exit system, a fresh air system, etc.
Estimated Price: Rs 9.15 Crore