President Putin Cruises Around In THIS…and It’s (More or Less) Russian
Let’s start with a quick background on how the car that has the honour of ferrying around one of the most feared leaders in the world came to be. The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has been pushing for reduced dependency on imported products since the country was saddled with Western sanctions in early 2014 (brought about by its annexation of Crimea). This, on top of the weak rubles, caused the Russian car market to shrink, and international automakers either pulled out or idled their operations in the country.
Meanwhile, though, Project Cortege – or Kortezh — had been underway since 2012. The solemn-sounding project was an initiative by Putin to create an entire fleet of Russian-developed government vehicles. The first made its public debut during the President’s fourth inauguration just last May. Putin ditched the modified Mercedes S600 Pullman that was previously used by the Russian Federal Protective Service (FSO) and pulled up in this:
The presidential Kortezh is rumoured to have a 4.6-litre V8 turbocharged engine, capable of churning out 592 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission developed locally – the engine, however, was developed together with Porsche (hence the “more or less Russian” adjective).
Other details are shrouded in secrecy, of course, because the FSO wouldn’t want the car’s weaknesses to be public knowledge. But it is quite likely to have features that would keep the very important occupant safe, even in the case of a rocket launcher attack, such as an independent air supply, blood supply, all-around armoured plating, etc.
The presidential limo is just the beginning. The government has poured 12.4 billion rubles into the car project, so you know that it means business. A line of sedan, minivan and SUV will be built on the same platform to complete the FSO fleet as well as for other government agencies. Besides for official government use, the Kortezh will be made available for civilians (minus the armour plating and blood supply, of course) from early 2019, through a partnership with local carmaker, Sollers; these vehicles will be marketed under the brand Aurus, which is a portmanteau of “aurum”, Latin for Gold, and “rus” for Russia.
About 5,000 vehicles are expected to roll off the assembly line by 2020. The limo is expected to sell for about the same price as a Bentley…is that why it looks like one?
If you want to have another look at it, we can expect Putin to attend the World Cup (presently taking place, at time of writing) Final. So, be sure to keep an eye out for it during the live telecast.
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