Posted Feb 27th 2013 5:45PM
A few years ago Russian president Dmitri Medvedev decided he wanted officials to be chauffeured in Russian limousines, not the German executive sedans everyone had become accustomed to (such as the Mercedes-Benz pictured above). Naturally, that meant turning to Russia's own ZiL to create a litter worthy of a plutocrat and glorious Russian history. The plan had two big problems, the first being that ZiL stopped making limos back in 1991 and was only producing trucks and armored military vehicles.
But that didn't stop the party. The orders to ZiL were to create something powered by a V8 that was able to carry three people and reach 210 kilometres per hour. It must also represent "the best traditions of Soviet limousine building." Zil got to work, spending years and who knows how many rubles to create the armored sedan it unveiled last Fall: the ZiL-4112P, powered by a 7.7-litre V8 that reportedly has more than 400 horsepower. When comparing the 4112P to Obama's presidential conveyance, ZiL's director of limousine production said, "If you look at what Obama drives around in its a scary submarine, no kind of aesthetic, it's awful to look at."
No matter that, the car has one more big problem: President Putin is apparently unhappy with it. The president hasn't publicly disclosed his issues with the car, but the Moscow Times said that Putin "was not pleased" by the looks of the 4112P and noted that the car "needed adjustments." ZiL's response to the report was to say that the president wasn't actually given the 4112P – which, if true, would mean they gave him a presidential limo they haven't revealed to the public instead of the one they threw a giant party for and used to demonstrate the comparative ugliness of its American counterpart.
The mess has left an opening for GAZ and Marussia, with both companies working on alternatives to whatever is on offer from ZiL. GAZ is building something based on the Audi A8 that it says will be ready by 2014, Marussia's "completely original model" will arrive in 2015.