Looking for a top-of-the-line bulletproof vehicle? One that can withstand hits from machine guns and other high-powered assault weapons? Mercedes recently released the Maybach S Guard, announcing that it’s the first civilian vehicle certified with a VR10 ballistic protection rating.
The armored version of the luxury Mercedes Maybach S600 is designed to protect its occupants similarly to those in a military vehicle — able to withstand “hardened steel core bullets fired from an assault rifle,” the car manufacturer reported.
Ballistic bells and whistles
Here’s what the $513,000 price tag delivers: Protective plating between inner frame and the outer shell; armored plating on the underbody; heavy reinforced windows, coated with polycarbonate, which operate with hydraulic lifts; oxygen system that automatically seal exterior vents in the event of an attack; 530-hp twin-turbo V-12 engine;; fire suppression system; and Michelin PAX run-flats tires that allow for driving with zero pressure. That doesn’t count additional options like a panic alarm and blackout blinds.
What it takes to earn the rating
That VR10 ballistic protection rating is hard to achieve. To earn the rating from the Ballistics Authority in Ulm, Germany, the vehicle not only must be able to withstand those hardened steel core bullets fired from an assault rifle. It also must be able to provide the occupants with “comprehensive protection” from bombs and other explosive devices. That feature also earned the vehicle a ERV 2010 rating for explosive resistant vehicles.
Most vehicles can be armored to withstand various levels of attacks. In the United States, the National Institute of Justice rates a vehicle’s level of protection in 8 categories known as Class I, IIA, II, IIIA, III, IV, V and VI. In Europe, the vehicles normally get ratings that fall into levels B1 through B7.
The cost of protection
If you can’t afford the $350,000 to $520,000 it takes to own a Mercedes armored car, you could settle for having a vehicle armored for varying fees. According to an article by Autoweek, the demand for personal armored vehicles is growing. Mark Burton, the founder and CEO of International Armoring Corporation, said that he expected to produce about 24 armored cars when he opened for business in 1993. He built more than 225 that first year. Since then, the company has produced 8,000 vehicles.