The Most Expensive Chinese Car, $1.2-Million Hongqi HQE, is Getting Ready for Volume Production

Hongqi HQE, which President Hu rode reviewing troops on Tiananmen Square last year, will soon be available to the public with a price tag estimated at 8 million yuan or $1.2 million. Under the code CA7600, it appeared on the list of upcoming models published by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology last month.

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Chinese media have compared the HQE, the most expensive car ever made in China, with Maybach 62 and Rolls-Royce Phantom of extended wheelbase, which sell for approximately 9.98 and 7.18 million yuan in the country, respectively. With a 3200kg curb weight and 3900mm wheelbase, HQE is noticeably larger and heavier than both (it is 6395mm long, 2004mm wide, 1720mm tall).

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Through the years, Hongqi, while being a symbol of Red China, has drawn inspiration from luxury saloons of a mix of foreign brands including Chrysler, Audi, Lincoln, and Toyota. The resulting models have mostly been disappointments; many view them as grand rolling signs of lack of originality and sophistication.

This time, however, hopes are high. The untasteful eclecticism is less evident on the bullet-proof HQE, which asserts its roots in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

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Under the hood it employs less foreign power too. The V12 6.0-liter (CA12GV), developed by First Auto Works (FAW) specifically for HQE, can put out 300kW/5600rpm and 550Nm/4000rpm. It pales in comparison with the V12 6.0-liter on Audi A8L, but earns applause for being the first Chinese-made engine suitable for ultra-luxury cars.

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FAW had reportedly spent two years developing the HQE for the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic last year. 17 units were built, each costing about 4 million yuan.

Our photos of Hongqi HQE are from the 2010 Beijing Auto Show. The model to be released in mid-2011 may have a few minor differences from the one pictured.