When in 1962 Charles De Gaulle narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, riding alongside his wife in the presidential Citroën DS (or Déesse, French for Goddess), the DS was credited as having played a key role in thwarting the attempt on the president’s life. In fact, De Gaulle so fell in love with the DS that he subsequently refused to travel in anything else!
It is believed that the DS’ hydro-pneumatic suspension (what may be called air suspension), an independent suspension setup with shock absorbers filled with pressurized oil and gas, that could automatically adjust ride height and firmness depending on load and terrain conditions, ensured that the wheels remain level even after three or four tires had been blown apart by the hail of bullets, so that De Gaulle’s driver was able to maneuver the DS out of the initial skid and spin the president and his wife unharmed to the Orly Airport.
Among other technical features that placed the DS ahead of its time was an automated manual transmission, and, of course, this life-saving suspension setup, so that the car became the choice for French’s wealthiest and most powerful.
Now, ask, if De Gaulle were to choose another “car” today, without necessarily making modifications personally to suit his presidential Safety transit, or honoring the restrictive grounds of patriotism, would he choose the X5 or the 7 Series? Your Right of Way! investigates.
Right out front, hear me out. I’m not saying I went back into history and dug up De Gaulle’s personal preferences and figured out why he’d choose the DS instead of another car. One could assume for being patriotic? He could have tried Renault then. Or Peugeot! Or it’s easy to assume because of the technological Advances that made the DS so special, so great at handling, and yet so supple for creature comfort. That is, as far as the 50’s are concerned. Most definitely.
Today the X5 Security Plus spec is “similarly” equipped but more higher-end and modern, more militarily defined, albeit concealed – hidden under the metal skin. High-Performance steel moldings and panels. Anti-AK-47 30-mm thick armored glass with anti-spalling polycarbonate coating inside. Run-flat tires up to 150 kilometers at 80 km/h speed. Active steering. Dynamic Drive. Night Vision with Adaptive headlamps and turn signals. Thermal image cameras with 300-meter range of vision. LED strobe lights. And to be Responsible I cannot go further in features. But can the X5 lower itself 4 inches to the tarmac? You would need such low clearance if your four tires are on a flat and you still must go on the bare rims and at fleeing speed. And, if it is designed to do so (if it is) can the suspensions alone support the heavyweight without the robustness of the tires? But you can lift the 7 Series 8 inches off the ground. If you have to.
Among those who will find this latest Security spec X5 (the security spec being in its third generation now, the 7 Series in its fifth) of key interest and a vehicle to definitely consider are our celebrities who sometimes for no reason may earn unjustified animosity (leading to violent assaults or more recently kidnappings) and BMW has always demonstrated that it understands that discretion and anonymity are an added Advantage to forestall stalking attempts by not visibly differentiating the security models. That is, except your eyes can tell thick glass from thin. Or meatier tires from the outside. These ones may therefore consider the 7 Series High Security Edition model instead of the X5 Security Plus. Not that I hate the sight of SUV in the city! But.
When in 2009 BMW built a High Security Line at the level of factory integration from ground up, it reserved it for its officially high-class, top-of-the-line luxury model, the 7 Series. (I think there was also a 5 Series Security of the same model year to cover the upper medium category). This was fitting (not that anybody with money couldn’t just walk into a BMW dealership and pay nearly $300,000 for the creation) but because how many times do you see a 7 Series drive past you? So those who could afford the luxury realized they could get a 7 Series with a factory installed protection and without the hassle and cost and imperfections and undue publicity that might go with having one installed in the after-market. You buy one and drive home without your neighbor knowing if it’s a Security one or not. In fact, BMW was the first car-maker to offer a car that is fully compliant with the requirements of the class VR7 ballistic protection standard. Class VR7 standard ensures that non-military armored vehicles are fired (during testing) with 7.62x51mm bullets from any impact angle of the windscreen, firewall, doors and body pillars, gaps and apertures, roof and rear bulkhead, and blast protection. Previous standards only tested at 45 to 90 degrees impact angle.
Yet, another reason the 7 Series was an Excellent choice (still is, always will be!) to so armor is, and I hope this is obvious, it is not an SUV. No Design or chassis Technology can make anything taller (or higher) than 60 inches to maneuver Safely enough (akin to a Formula One car but not exactly the same speed) to earn the marks of a high security vehicle. Time arises for it. If the 7 Series could even grow shorter to 55 inches! In fact, as far as driving and vehicle dynamics go the only body type that can rightly be called a car is sedan (or saloon); the rest are equipment in one form or another. Suited to one Purpose or other. The choice of the 7 Series couldn’t be more fitting! Still is. The driver must tap off all power reserves to escape the dangerous situation swiftly…
Now, BMW claims that they have chosen to kit out the X5, as the 7 Series because, “more and more people want Sports Activity Vehicles, with all the versatility that they offer to go anywhere and do anything.” I love the way BMW refers to SUV. SAV. Sports Activity Vehicle. And about the extra weight from the arming BMW claims that modifications made to the chassis can compensate for the increased center of gravity so that driving dynamics are not impaired.
While I admit that more and more people want SUVs these days, if by your exulted position in the society you determine that a high security vehicle is right for you, you’re finer if you choose like Charles De Gaulle would – not an SUV or SAV, like an X5, but a sedan like the sweet, undisturbed-flow of a car, the 7 Series. Finally, being at ease in the security of a BMW means you need to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride! And where else can you have that?