Aurus opens orders for the civilian version of Vladimir Putin's limousine

Don't expect to buy one in the United States

Motorists who enviously ogled Vladimir Putin's limousine during his 2018 inauguration are in luck. Aurus, the state-owned automaker who largely developed and manufactures the sedan, has started selling it to members of the general public in select markets around the world.

The first Aurus showroom is located in Moscow. It only sells one model, a shorter version of the stretched, 23-foot-long Senat limousine that transported Putin during the ceremony, and it's not expecting to top Russia's sales charts. Pricing starts at $18 million rubles, according to Reuters, a sum that represents approximately $274,000. To add context, that sum can also buy three entry-level variants of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, or a Maybach-badged S560 plus a pair of base E-Classes for your bodyguards. Or, in many markets, a nice house for you and yours.

While Aurus hasn't revealed how many examples it plans to sell, it predicts buyers outside of Russia will be interested in the model, too. "We believe the audience will be quite wide," opined company CEO Adil Shirinov in an interview with Reuters. The firm plans to open a showroom in China in 2020 or 2021, and it's also hoping to receive the attention of buyers in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Few will be surprised to learn that the United States isn't part of its business plan.

Sending Aurus a quarter of a million dollars gets luxury car buyers into a stately, Rolls-Royce-esque limousine positioned as a heir to the ZiL models that ferried Soviet heads of states and dignitaries for decades. It was developed on a blank slate, it's not based on an existing model, with alleged input from Porsche Engineering and Bosch. Power comes from a twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8 engine tuned to deliver 600 horsepower, according to AutoWeek, but the line-up will eventually grow with the addition of an 800-horsepower V12 and a comparatively puny 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbocharged to 245 horsepower.

Aurus' expansion plans don't stop at two additional engines. It doesn't want to remain a one-model brand for long and is planning to launch a minivan, and an SUV named Komendant tentatively scheduled to make its public debut during the 2020 Moscow auto show. Additional Senat variants -- including a hybrid, an electric model, or both -- will join the range by 2025.

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