If it weren't for the special livery and the extra lights, you'd be hard-pressed to believe this isn't a regular Volkswagen Golf GTI. However, this eighth-generation model has gone through some skin-deep changes to become bullet-resistant. While armored cars are usually big sedans or SUVs, here's a compact hatchback that can withstand an AK-47 attack.

Developed by SVI Engineering in South Africa, the rapid-response vehicle has gained 3.5 mm armored steel plating and lightweight ballistic glass. Only the window on the driver’s side can be opened halfway while the others are fixed in place for obvious reasons. Although the package is shown here on a GTI, the company says it’s compatible with the all-wheel-drive R as well.

High-grade armored steel has been used for the doors, pillars, roof, and a custom rear bulkhead. The latter was chosen so that there wouldn't be a need to use armor for the tailgate, thus minimizing the weight penalty and lowering costs. There's extra protection for important engine components after installing armor in the front fenders while the battery gains bullet-resistant protection as well.

As you can imagine, some downsides come after adding all that extra hardware. The car puts on about 750 pounds of weight, so don't expect the GTI to do 0-60 mph in six seconds as the standard car. Going for the quicker Golf R (4.5 seconds for the sprint) would make more sense. In addition, fuel efficiency surely takes a hit compared to the GTI's 27 miles per gallon in the combined cycle per EPA's rating.

SVI Engineering has tweaked the suspension to cope with the substantially increased weight now that the car tips the scales at nearly 3,900 pounds. The benefit is that the Golf GTI can now withstand attacks from handguns and rifles up to 7.62x39 mm thanks to its B4+ body armor. The ballistic glass we mentioned earlier can stop four shots from an AK-47 in a 300-mm square.

The specialty company needs around three months to convert a GTI or an R. Regardless of the one you go for; the armoring package costs the equivalent of nearly $35,000. That's before taxes and without including the donor car. The cost for the conversion is slightly more than what VW charges for a base GTI in the United States.

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Gallery: Armored Volkswagen Golf GTI VIII by SVI Engineering

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