Does crime, political enemies or shady business deals make you a little bit nervous? Looking for an armoured sports utility vehicle (SUV)? Mercedes-Benz has the product for you.
The new R2.3-million ML500 Guard vehicle has been unveiled in South Africa. The M-Guard, an armoured version of the M-Class SUV, meets the requirements of vehicle resistance level 4 (VR4), which means it offers protection against a magnum .357 and .44, as well as a DM51 hand grenade – should the customer opt for the optional floor armour.
Mercedes-Benz offers protection up to VR9 on its Guard vehicles, which means it can fend off the bullets of an AK47, but Mercedes-Benz Guard sales head Markus Rubenbauer believes VR4 covers most violent situations in South Africa.
The windows on the M-Guard VR4 are 23 mm thick.
The armouring adds 400 kg to the weight of the M-Class SUV.
Despite this, however, the M-Guard cannot be distinguished from any other ML500 on the road.
The vehicle comes with run- flat tyres and is powered by a V8 petrol engine, delivering 300 kW of power and 600 Nm of torque. In the case of a quick getaway, it can sprint from zero to a 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds.
Delivery time on the vehicle is six months.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) sales and marketing divisional manager Selvin Govender says MBSA is con- fident there is a market for an armoured M-Class in South Africa.
“We have been successful with the E-Guard and S-Guard in South Africa, and the market has shown an interest in an SUV-type Guard vehicle.”
MBSA president and CEO Dr Martin Zimmermann says Mercedes-Benz has been building armoured vehicles for more than 80 years, starting in 1928. These vehicles were initially built by the German carmaker’s prototype department, but demand has seen this grow into a special protection vehicle production line.
This assembly process sees the individual protection elements being integrated into the raw vehicle body shell from scratch, with the entire passenger compartment receiving a coat of armour, so to speak, including the roof frame struts, locks, door gaps and exterior mirror mounts.
Zimmermann says Guard vehicles are only sold following verification of the buyer’s credentials.
Workers assembling the Guard vehicles also do not know the identities of the buyers.
Zimmermann says Guard vehicles will typically cover 400 000 km to 600 000 km during their life span.
The M-Guard is sold in South Africa at three dealers, in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively in a deal which also includes driver training.
Mercedes-Benz sells armoured cars in 146 countries.