THE name looks and sounds as if it might be an Australian company firing up business in Russia, but a new brand of luxury car called Aurus is as Russian as Moskovskaya Osobaya vodka.
The company is now taking orders for its Senat, also colloquially known as a Putinmobile, the civilian version of the large, luxurious sedan that serves as the presidential limo for President Vladimir Putin.
It’s the successor to the Packard-based Zil sedans used by previous Soviet leaders, and is built by Russian automaker Sollers.
That might be a new name for many Westerners, but those in the know might recall Sollers used to be known as Zavod Malolitrazhnykh Avtomobiley and has joint venture deals with various car makers, among them Isuzu, Fiat, Ssangyong, and Mazda — and it builds some Ford and Toyota models.
So while it does build cars and utes, it is now also moving into prestige territory.
First shown in 2018, the Aurus Senat is priced from 18 million roubles (about $405,000 in our cash) and deliveries to civilian buyers will start in 2020.
Aurus anticipates production of 5000 to 10,000 units per year – and yes, of course buyers have the option of armour protection.
The car, whose design looks like a blend of Chrysler 300, Bentley and Rolls-Royce, will initially be sold via Aurus’ newly-opened dealership in Moscow.
More dealerships will open across Russia shortly and eventually the brand will later expand to China, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
The base Senat is powered by a hybrid powertrain combining a 4.4-litre V8 with an electric motor.
The V8 delivers 445kW on its own and the electric motor adds 30kW.
A 9-speed automatic channels drive to all four wheels.
A 6.6-litre V12 is still in development and is expected to produce about 600kW.
Aurus said a battery-electric version could also be launched in the future.
Apart from the Senat, Aurus plans an SUV called the Komendant and a minivan called the Arsenal.
The SUV will arrive first, possibly at the 2020 Moscow International Automobile Salon.
Question is: will The Donald have one or more of the US motor outfits produce something similar, or better?
At present, he goes around in an enormous, one-off presidential limo simply known as The Beast.
It wears a Cadillac badge, but it’s built on a GM truck chassis.
The Queen of England rides in a Bentley, France’s President Macron has a DS 7 Crossback, Italy ferries its leaders around in either a Lancia Thesis or a Maserati Quattroporte, the Chinese presidential vehicle is a Hongqi, the Pope often chugs along in a 1984 Renault 4 and former Uruguay leader Jose Mujica has a 1968 VW Beetle.
The humble Uruguayan, by the way, was recently offered $1 million for his old Beetle. He politely declined.