Auto Tech

BMW's new driving school focuses on armored cars and high-value assets

Bmws New Driving School Focuses On Armored Cars And High Value Assets

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We enjoy stumbling on armored oddballs like Inkas’ armored 70 Series Toyota Land Cruiser or the two (2!) armored Subaru Foresters for sale at a used car lot in Atlanta. The Germans have made armoring a factory-order specialty, Mercedes selling its S680 Guard, BMW tripling the choice with its X5 Protection, new gas-powered 7 Series Protection, and the all-electric i7 Protection. The learning curve for mastering driving techniques with armored vehicles is just as steep as that for a Ranger Raptor, the potential repercussions of needing a recovery even greater. Hence, BMW Security Vehicle Training, two levels of training for drivers who need to maximize their skillsets in armored cars so they can get high-value assets to safety.

Established 35 years ago, the school now runs out of a driving center built in the former Templin NATO air base north of Berlin. The remote location and lots of room to run allows BMW to set up realistic training scenarios involving close simulations of real-world dangers. The first course goes over the basics of handling an armored car and its extra heft; the BMW X5 Protection weighs nearly 1,800 pounds more than its non-armored counterpart, the BMW i7 Protection weighs more than 9,000 pounds — they aren’t made for cinematic, drift-heavy, high-speed chases. Speaking of which, the gas-powered 7 Series Protection tops out at 130 miles per hour, the i7 Protection at 99 mph. So the key is to know how to use the vehicle and the surroundings to evade a pursuer to get to safety. Instructors teach students how to anticipate their needs, keeping calm under stress, some evasive maneuvers, how to hustle an armored car through a slalom course, methods for emergency braking, and navigating “a confusing forest road” through explosions. A night-time component adds to the dynamic aspect by teaching participants escape tactics using the high beam, low beam, and just the parking lights.

On the second day of basic, evasion techniques move up to high-speed handling including maneuvers through bends and the J-turn, and instructors will carry out a simulated vehicle attack.

Upon completion, drivers can take the Level 2 course which lasts three days and expands the toolset. This means more intense maneuvering under fire, driving while making contact with another vehicle, running high-speed laps on a track to learn armored car control “under extreme conditions,” and at the other end of the scale, learning how to handle night-time ambushes and car crashes with heavy damage. Dynamic limit training with the X5 Protection has drivers traversing hills at angles just below the SUV’s tipping point, understanding how to cross sand, and how to drive on two wheels in tough terrain. Plus, of course, more pyrotechnics.

BMW’s Security Driver courses are capped at 16 participants, two per vehicle, plus an instructor, which sounds like someone gets to roleplay as the target. Prices supplied on request, your clue not to expect a Groupon rate.

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