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.
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).
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.
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.
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.