Aurus Senat is Vladimir Putin’s new presidential car

If you’ve ever seen Russian president Vladimir Putin ride in a regal yet relatively unknown presidential car this year, well, you’re not alone. Meet the civilian version of the Aurus Senat, one without all the bulletproof shielding and presumably other high-tech defence systems.

The Senat is made wholly in Russia under new luxury car brand Aurus, a name that’s derived from two parts: aurum (Latin for gold) and ‘rus’ for Russia. The Rolls-Royce-like vehicle was developed by a group of Russian carmakers led by the Russian Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automobile Engines Institute (NAMI), under a project called Kortezh.

The limousine was first seen on a public outing in May when Putin took it on a televised drive. The Senat was used instead of his usual Mercedes-Benz at his inauguration for his fourth presidential term, imparting a patriotic message of Russian self-sufficiency. Russia is actively reducing its dependence on imported goods and technology, a movement spurned since the Republic was hit by Western sanctions.

Aurus Senat is Vladimir Putin’s new presidential car

As for the car, two versions of the four-seater sedan will be made – the standard Senat and a longer Senat Limousine. The former measures in at a whopping 5,639 mm long (just shy of the Rolls-Royce Phantom, but longer than the Bentley Mulsanne), whereas the Limousine gets stretched by nearly a full metre to 6,629 mm.

It’s powered by a 4.4 litre hybrid-petrol V8. The engine alone is turbocharged to produce 598 hp and 880 Nm of torque, and the electric motor supplies an additional 40 hp. Power is sent to all four corners through a nine-speed automatic. A larger 6.6 litre V12 is currently being developed and is expected to produce over 800 hp. Both powertrains were jointly developed with Porsche.

Design-wise, it looks quite like a Rolls-Royce, from the shape of the headlights to the huge radiator grille and rather stately wheels. The trailing edge of the grille sees two sharply contoured grooves that form the character line, and stretches all the way rearward. Curiously, pictures of the Senat’s rump remain elusive, for now.

Inside, there’s a sizeable two-spoke leather steering wheel and fully digital instrument binnacle that sits flush alongside the central infotainment display. The air-con vents seem to adopt Bentley’s famous organ stop system to control air flow, and the vent itself features rectangular knurling in the middle. As an extra touch of class, an analogue clock, which sits between the central air vents, features a mighty impressive textured dial with carved indices, all encased in a highly polished rounded bezel.

Below that is what appears to be a dual-zone climate control system with integrated digital displays (rear occupants should also get a separate dual-zone function), gear lever and circular knob to navigate through the custom-made multimedia system.

Other features include an eight-mode LED ambient lighting system, heavily bolstered leather seats with perforation, fine wood trimmings and a host of driver assistance systems. There’s also reclining rear seats, integrated refrigerator and Aurus-branded crystal glasses. The Senat can even be ordered with armour protection, should one feel the need.

Aurus Senat is Vladimir Putin’s new presidential car

First deliveries of the Aurus Senat will take place in early 2019, with only 150 units planned for the Senat and Senat Limousine for the first two years of production. In 2021, the numbers will be increased to between 5,000 to 10,000 units, but this is ultimately subject to demand. The company is also looking to export to markets such as China and the Middle East.

The Senat won’t be Aurus’ only model, though. Other vehicles in the pipeline include a minivan, which will reportedly be called the Arsenal, an SUV called the Komendant, an off-road vehicle, as well as an all-electric motorcycle.

Now, which presidential vehicle do you fancy more? Putin’s Senat, or Donald Trump’s ‘Beast’? Unfortunately for the latter, Cadillac has no plans to introduce a civilian version, since the armoured limo was built based on a highly modified truck platform. The US secret service has already taken delivery of the limo, so expect that to make an appearance soon.

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