Recently I wrote for Russia Feed an article about Russia’s ambitious project to develop a new series of high end market luxury cars to compete with brands like Mercedes, Rolls Royce and Bentley.
When I wrote that article there was still a dearth of information about the project, though it was known that it centred on development of a series of engines by the state design bureau NAMI, which would then be made available to domestic Russian car manufacturers so that they could design cars around them.
This is how I described this project
The Russians have gone about this programme in a very characteristic way. The Industry Ministry has focused Russia’s huge engineering resources on developing a range of car engines, with development centred on NAMI, Russia’s state scientific and motor research centre. Little is known about these engines, of which there are known to be several. However the most powerful is known to be a big and hugely powerful 6 litre V12 850 hp engine, which the media is already calling “the Tsar engine”.
Once these engines are fully developed they will be serially produced by NAMI or licensed for production to factories supervised by the Industry Ministry, from whence they will be made available for use by Russia’s various domestic car manufacturers who will be able to build their own individual car bodies around them.
This methodical and modular approach, combining the resources of both state and private industry in a carefully structured industrial partnership, is very characteristic of contemporary Russian industrial policy.
The launch of series production of these engines is expected to take place this year, for use in a series of cars principally designed for use by the Kremlin car pool (thus the designation Project Kortezh – ie. the “cortege” or vehicle convoy put together from the Kremlin car fleet). This initial series is known to include a large luxury saloon car comparable to the Mercedes S Class or a Bentley, a newly designed state limousine for use by Russia’s President based on the saloon car, a large luxury SUV, and a luxury minivan.
The Russians have now provided more details both of the concept and of the new series of car engines, with details provided in an interview with the official Russian news agency TASS by Kirill Kazmirchuk, a department head at NAMI
We have a range of engines in the product range of the ‘single modular platform’ project [the Cortege project]. The most powerful engine, the V-12, has a capacity of 850 hp, the V8 has 650 hp and the straight-four-cylinder engine has 250 hp. The V12, the most powerful motor, will be mounted on limousines – on the light and the ‘heavy’ version, i.e. on the protected limousine,” he said.
According to Kazmirchuk, the V8 and V12 engines will be mounted on SUV (off-road) vehicles while the V4 and V8 will be installed in the minivan. The NAMI institute has developed the V8 engine together with Porsche Engineering while the other two motors are the institute’s homegrown inventions, he noted.
Only one gearbox, a nine-gear automatic transmission, has been developed for the project so far. It is not ruled out that simpler gearboxes will appear in the future, in particular, for the V4 engine, he said.This motorcade project for building a family of cars for top officials – a limousine, a sedan, an off-road vehicle and a minivan. The limousine is expected to be unveiled at the president’s inauguration in the spring of 2018. After the vehicles are ready in all of their modifications for government officials, they will be freely sold on the market.
The engine, the gearbox, exterior and interior elements will be customised, he emphasised.
These are hugely powerful engines. By comparison the V12 engines used by the current models of the Rolls Royce Phantom and the Mercedes S600 have power ratings in the 460 hp to 520 hp range, whilst the turbocharged V8 engine of the Bentley Mulsanne is capable of producing 530 hp.
Raw power output is not of course the only test of an engine. We know nothing of the fuel efficiency, reliability or torque of these Russian engines. However the raw power output figures give some indicator of how high the Russians are aiming in developing these cars.