A first for Africa! SVI’s Armoured X3 certified by BMW AG

SVI Engineering, leading specialist manufacturer of armoured products, is pleased to announce the availability of a new BMW-approved protection package for the Rosslyn-built X3 M40i, marking the very first time that BMW AG has performed an armouring certification on the African continent.

Fulfilling the requirements of ballistic resistance class NIJ Level IIIA (comparable to B4) and thus providing protection against handguns (including 9 mm and .44 Magnum), the armoured X3 M40i joins the German automaker’s local range after undergoing extensive ballistic and durability testing right here in South Africa, in accordance with internationally recognised guidelines.

As such, the SVI-armoured X3 M40i can now be ordered – and financed – directly from any BMW dealership nationwide, with the standard manufacturer warranty and maintenance plan remaining completely intact.

“This project represents the first time that BMW AG has performed an armouring certification on the African continent. The result is a vehicle that can withstand attacks up to .44 Magnum from different directions and angles,” said Dr Daniel Huber, BMW AG engineer for armoured vehicles, who travelled from Munich to South Africa for the extensive testing process.


The painstaking certification, which was overseen by Beschussamt Munich, an independent German authority on ballistic testing, involved a completed X3 test vehicle being subjected to more than 400 shots – including taking fire from above at an angle of 45 degrees. Successfully meeting the requirements, the SVI-developed special-protection X3 thus becomes the only armoured vehicle in South Africa officially tested to the stringent NIJ Level IIIA standard.

“Sometimes only the individual armouring components – such as the glass, Kevlar sheets and armoured steel – undergo ballistic testing. But with the X3 we tested the complete armoured vehicle as per the VPAM standard used by BMW AG worldwide, allowing us to target potential weak spots and ultimately deliver maximum protection in critical areas,” said Jaco de Kock, Chief Executive Officer of the SVI Group of Companies.

Furthermore, SVI built a second armoured X3 specifically to take part in a comprehensive durability programme that included as many as 10 000 door cycles, 7 000 boot cycles and 3 000 window-operation cycles. In addition, the bullet-resistant vehicle completed 3 000 km of punishing durability testing on mixed surfaces, including dirt roads.


Offering protection against dangers such as hijacking and kidnapping, this model has been designed to meet the needs of risk-exposed private individuals and prominent public figures with enhanced security requirements. It includes an armoured passenger cell with sealed joints – providing protection in the areas around doors and where body panels meet – plus specially developed ballistic glass. In contrast to many armoured vehicles with either fixed or very limited electric-window operation, the driver’s window on the X3 is able to open almost all the way down.

The bespoke 360-degree armouring package is completely concealed, making the armoured X3 M40i (which benefits from generous peak outputs of 285 kW and 500 Nm, courtesy of the standard turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six petrol engine) extremely difficult to distinguish from a standard model – from inside or outside the vehicle. Thanks to the extensive use of lightweight components, it’s furthermore almost identical to the production model in terms of its dynamic driving characteristics.

Once a customer places an order for an armoured X3 M40i at any BMW dealership around the country, the standard model built at BMW Group Plant Rosslyn is sent to SVI Engineering’s facility in Bashewa. The armouring conversion is then carried out according to strict production standards defined by the BMW Group.

The BMW Group has more than 40 years of experience in the development and production of security vehicles with model-specific protective equipment. SVI Engineering, meanwhile, is an original equipment manufacturer that has specialised in armoured vehicles since 2004 and is today a market leader in Africa, serving the private, corporate, security, mining and governmental segments.


SVI’s BMW-approved NIJ Level IIIA armouring package for the X3 M40i is priced at R879 800 (excluding VAT and the cost of the base vehicle). The project build time comes in at approximately three months.

The X3’s standard two-year/unlimited kilometre warranty as well as its five-year/100 000 km maintenance contract remain completely intact, while SVI provides an additional one-year/50 000 km warranty on the armouring conversion.