Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 November 2019

Inside Vladimir Putin's bomb-proof car that weighs 7-tonnes

The vehicle has been a feature of the Russian president’s overseas visits since May last year

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives at Qasr Al Watan in his Aurus Senat limousine on Tuesday. Ministry of Presidential Affairs
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives at Qasr Al Watan in his Aurus Senat limousine on Tuesday. Ministry of Presidential Affairs

He was a long way from Moscow, but Russian President Vladimir Putin would have felt at home on his way to Qasr Al Watan – in the back seat of his custom-built luxury limousine.

The Aurus Senat, a bomb and bullet-proof vehicle, which is seen as a match for Donald Trump’s Cadillac state car, was waiting for him at Abu Dhabi Presidential Airport on Tuesday.

The limousine has been a feature of Mr Putin’s overseas visits since May 2018.

He is said to have personally instigated a project to design a Russian-built car, rather than relying on foreign brands such as Mercedes, as he had done previously.

The result was Aurus – a new brand that is hoping to become an eastern rival to Rolls-Royce and which is making inroads in the Middle East.

The Aurus Senat limousine. The National
The Aurus Senat limousine. The National

And while the Senat can be bought by wealthy customers, Mr Putin’s version has been specially adapted. His Senat can withstand sniper fire and chemical gas attacks, and also has advanced communications equipment installed, making it a command centre on wheels.

But the small details are important too. Its doors are extra-large making it easy to get in and out of.

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In pictures: Vladimir Putin in the UAE

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Two of the four seats in the back are retractable and, for extra security, occupants who wish to close the car's window curtains are still able to see what is happening outside the vehicle in real-time via live CCTV footage aired on internal screens. An emergency exit is also built into the rear of the car.

There are also some special secret features in the Russian head of state’s seven-tonne and almost seven-metre-long car, but when The National spoke to Aurus chief executive, Franz Hilgert, he said he could not reveal them.

The Aurus cars are seen as the heir to the Russian-made sedans made by ZiL, which transported Soviet leaders for decades.

The company, which established the brand two years ago, will target the European market as well as the Middle East, with both armoured and non-armoured versions to be available.

Updated: October 17, 2019 03:37 PM

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