A Russian carmaker has launched a luxury version of Vladimir Putin’s $300 million armoured limousine aimed at super-rich oligarchs.
A glitzy presentation at a Moscow motor show yesterday saw the unveiling of two models from the new state-owned Aurus brand – the Senat limousine and a smaller Senat sedan.
The Soviet-influenced luxury vehicle was created in a bid to lure mega-rich Russian oligarchs away from foreign brands such as Rolls-Royce.
The limo, described as offering ‘uncompromising level of ballistic and explosive protection’, will serve as Russia’s new state vehicle and was seen in that role at the inauguration of president Vladimir Putin earlier this year.
The new brand, which is run by Russia’s Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engine Institute (NAMI) was developed under the instruction of Putin, who wanted Russian-made presidential vehicles.
The new state-run Soviet-influenced luxury limousine was created to lure mega-rich Russian oligarchs away from foreign brands such as Rolls-Royce
The luxury vehicle has a hybrid electric motor and can go from zero to 62mph in less than six seconds. It’s rear seats recline to 45 degrees and have custom designer downy pillows and a built-in refrigerator with Aurus-branded crystal glasses
The new Aurus is modelled on the armoured version built to protect Russian president Vladimir Putin which can be fully submerged in water and runs on tyres reinforced with steel to stop them going flat
The Senat Limousine has a 4.4-litre V8 engine jointly developed by NAMI and Porsche, with a hybrid electric motor to offer 590bhp and can go from zero to 62mph in less than six seconds.
It’s rear seats recline to 45 degrees and are equipped with custom designer downy pillows along with a built-in refrigerator with Aurus-branded crystal glasses and fold-out tables with leather trim.
At his inauguration for a fourth presidential term in May Putin rode to the Kremlin in a boxy black Aurus limousine with a huge front grill.
This marked a return to the Soviet-era practice of leaders riding in domestically made ceremonial cars. In previous years, Putin has opted for a Mercedes instead.
Russia’s Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov (left) and Aurus CEO Hilgert Franz Gerhard (right) unveiled the Aurus Senat vehicle, designed as part of the Kortezh project, at the 2018 Moscow International Motor Show at the Crocus Expo exhibition centre yesterday
Chief designer Vadim Pereverzev acknowledged the design influences for the Aurus Limousine included a model made for Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, the 1946 ZIS limousine, which also featured a huge chrome grille
Hilgert Franz Gerhard in the back of the Aurus Senat where the seats recline to 45 degrees and it has fold-out tables with leather trim
Little is known about the features of the Senat save that it can be fully submerged in water while keeping the occupants safe, and runs on tyres reinforced with steel to stop them going flat.
It was launched to rival US president’s ‘The Beast’, which features night vision cameras, tear gas cannons, pump-action shotguns in the doors, a completely sealed main compartment capable of withstanding a chemical attack, and several pints of the Donald Trump’s blood for emergency transfusions.
Putin’s version is also bomb-proof and is even slightly bigger than the American president’s specially adapted Cadillac.
The new Russian designs are influenced by Soviet-era cars produced only for top officials, the carmakers said, and the Kremlin has already received a number of the vehicles.
Chief designer Vadim Pereverzev acknowledged the design influences for the Aurus Limousine included a model made for Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, the 1946 ZIS limousine, which also featured a huge chrome grille.
Pereverzev told AFP that market research among Russians showed ‘there is demand for a high-tech quality product made in our country, in particular for a car of such a class’.
He added: ‘Consumers of such cars, you could say they are tired of Rolls-Royces, Mercedes and Maybachs,’ said Pereverzev, who has worked with Italian brands including Fiat.’
The launch comes days after arms maker Kalashnikov shocked the industry by presenting a new electric car with a retro powder blue design.
Pereverzev added: ‘I’d say that it was more that era that inspired our designers – an era of great achievements by our state when cars like the ZIS appeared.’
Putin showed off the Aurus when he arrived for talks in Helsinki in the bomb-proof limo that can be submerged underwater and is even bigger than President Trump’s own vehicle The Beast
Vladimir Putin arrived for the summit with Trump in Helsinki in armoured presidential limousine, the Aurus Senat vehicle which took six years to build and cost $300 million to develop
Donald Trump’s own presidential limousine, a Cadillac known informally as ‘The Beast’ is equipped with night vision cameras, tear gas cannons, 8ins of armour and pints of the president’s blood
The cars were developed by a state enterprise called NAMI, which owns a controlling stake in the Aurus brand, in conjunction with Russian automotive group Sollers.
Russian state funding for the project came to around 12 billion Rubles (£135 million) and Trade Minister Denis Manturov helped unveil the new luxury vehicle.
An investor from United Arab Emirates, Tawazun, also invested 110 million Euros in the build, Manturov said.
The brand is hoping to attract both wealthy Russians and international customers who currently opt for Western-made models.
CEO of the Aurus brand, Franz Gerhard Hilgert, said in his presentation: ‘We will not sell this vehicle only in Russia, we will sell it abroad.’
The price of the model will be ‘somewhere in between Mercedes and Rolls-Royce’, said Hilgert, who used to represent Daimler Chrysler in Russia.