Can Putin’s Aurus Senat Trump Other Presidential Sedans?

Aurus Senat 26 photos
Photo: Aurus
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Any self respecting head of state deserves a proper big sedan to be ferried around in, and if said sedan is made in the home country for that specific purpose, well that’s even better.
Vladimir Putin couldn’t contend with being transported in decadent western limousines, so a decadent eastern limousine called the Aurus Senat was commissioned for the purpose. It’s part of the Kortezh (the Russian word for “cortege,” or “retinue”) that includes all the necessary vehicles for a presidential convoy (the sedan, a minivan and an off-roader).

But the Aurus Senat is the flagship of the range, the most luxurious and fastest of the Kortezh series of vehicles. Based on aesthetics alone, it looks as if a Rolls Royce had a baby with a Bentley Continental Flying Spur.

It’s not bad to look at, but with that gaping grille, and its chiseled lines, the shape of its greenhouse and even the design of the wheels, it’s pretty clear the design is a Roller ripoff. And the design of the rear is all Bentley. That’s not to say it looks unappealing, because it doesn’t, but please don’t call it original.

Aurus Senat
Photo: Aurus
And since this is a car designed to take part in parades and processions, there are several body styles available. These are the regular normal wheelbase Senat (also available in fully-armored guise), the long-wheelbase Senat limousine and the two-door, drop-top Senat Parade Cabriolet (which looks a lot like the Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe).

The latter is currently used at parades (as its name suggests) to allow decorated generals to stand up in the car, but I’m sure that once these cars will have outlived their usefulness and will be retired, they will become the darling of Russia’s rappers. Just imagine how cool one of these would be in a rap video, with a gold chrome wrap, lowered suspension, aftermarket rims and girls twerking to the song’s beat.

It’s not like the car isn’t available for purchase now - it is, and anybody can buy one, it’s just that I’m not sure how many people would think the asking price is justified. But it should depreciate so dramatically that it just might be worth getting one second-hand.

How much is the asking price, I hear you say? Well, it’s about the equivalent of $280,000. That’s slightly less than a Rolls Royce Ghost (which costs around $310,000 new), but if you have that much to spend on a car, you can probably make the stretch to just get the Roller.

At least you know the Rolls Royce has a century of history behind it and it’s built by proud Brits under German management. That has proven to be quite a good combination because current Rolls Royce models are probably the best ones the company has aver made.

Aurus Senat
Photo: Aurus
But what about the Senat and the company that makes it? Well, it’s made by the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute in Moscow (abbreviated NAMI), founded in 1918. It’s apparently Russia’s leading institution when it comes to all things automotive and it’s designed similar sedans to the Senat in the past, as well as tiny economy cars for city use, massive trucks for off-roading and everything in between.

It certainly has experience in the field, it’s just a shame the design couldn’t have been more original. I mean they are the same institution that designed the NAMI-013, which was a rear-engine car that looked like it was driving in reverse - that was properly creative and fun, whereas the Senat is a bit boring (and uninspiring) to look at.

And the same goes for its interior. It looks okay by modern luxury car standards, complete with a dual wide screen setup just like you get in a modern Mercedes-Benz, and what appears to be a well-appointed, leather-clad cabin. But in all honesty, it kind of looks like a Kia inside, not something that costs as much as a Rolls Royce.

Aurus Senat
Photo: Aurus
But maybe its platform and powertrain will change my impression of it. The Senat rides on a bespoke platform called EMP and it’s powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 engine with 598 horsepower and 880 Nm (649 pound-feet) of torque.

Power is sent to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission that features a built-in 56 horsepower electric motor which is used to crank the engine into life, as well as provide motivation of the big internal combustion engine fails - this is a safety feature, designed in order to allow Russian officials to escape the scene of an attack.

The Senat weighs around 3 tons, so even with its beefy power figure and electric boost, it takes 4.9 seconds to sprint to 100 km/h from naught; its top speed is 250 km/h (155 mph). Apparently, the German automotive giant Bosch and Porsche took part in the development of the engine, although no official statements were made about this alleged collaboration.

Overall, the Senat is an intriguing car. It’s overpriced for something that can’t match the tradition of a Roller or a Flying B, but it’s pretty cool that it exists. It would definitely have been much more interesting and enticing if it had more unique styling, because while it kind of looks like a Rolls Royce, it quite clearly isn’t one.

Aurus Senat
Photo: Aurus
Maybe they should have taken inspiration from China whose Hongqi L5 (a car designed for the exact same purpose) has a far more unique look to it than the Senat. Its unique look does make it a more interesting automobile to behold, and it’s certainly more of a head turner than the Senat, yet at the same time its interior looks nowhere near as posh as that of the Russian car.

Meanwhile, in the States, U.S. president Donald Trump is ferried around in what could only be described as a stretched Escalade sedan. It looks like a typical three-box car, yet it sits as high off the ground as an SUV and it also rides on big chunky tires that make its rims look quite small. It looks like no other Cadillac on sale right now, it features 2 + 3 + 2 seating and due to all the armor plating it carries around, it weighs as much as 9 tons (2,000 pounds) according to some reports.

What’s amusing about all of this is the fact that both the Chinese and Russian leader travel in more style than the U.S. president. Their cars really are more elegant than the Beast Donald Trump is moved around in, a vehicle far more focused on the safety of its occupants than looking pretty - and if you compare this to previous president-ferrying limos, you can see that it was not always the case.
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