Introducing Russia’s new luxury car brand

Project Kortezh luxury car given new brand name Aurus

Russia Feed has previously reported on Russia’s ambitious plans to develop its own top luxury car brand to compete on the Russian domestic market with Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Mercedes (see our discussions here and here).

Development and testing of the new range of cars – a large sedan, a luxury SUV and a luxury minivan together with Russia’s new Presidential limousine – is now apparently complete, with a new factory in Moscow built to build them.

Series production initially for the Kremlin’s car fleet is expected to start shortly, with the Presidential limousine expected to debut and launch the range on the occasion of the Presidential inauguration following Russia’s Presidential election in March.

As previously discussed, the new luxury car range is built around a family of three engines all developed in Russia, though one – a V8 – was apparently developed with some help from Porsche.

These engines include a truly gigantic V12 with a power rating of 850 hp, the V8 with a power rating of ‘only’ 650 hp, and a third engine which the Russians have described as a V4 but which our commentator Stavros Hadjiyiannis plausibly suggests is much more likely to be a Straight 4 (“S4”).

Latest reports suggest that the sedan will be powered by the V8 rather than the V12 as we previously reported.  With a reported power rating of 650 hp the V8 does look a better fit for the sedan than the V12, providing the sedan with an engine that would be more powerful than the V12 planned for the new Rolls-Royce Phantom 8 or the V8 which powers Bentley’s top end luxury sedan the Mulsanne.

Presumably that means that the sedan and the SUV will both use the V8, with the minivan using the S4 and the gigantic V12 reserved for use by the Presidential limousine.  The size and power of the V12 engine (850 hp) has probably been made necessary by the weight of the Presidential limousine, which is doubtless heavily armoured.

In a further sign that the cars are now ready for production and will shortly be put on general sale, the Russians have also come up with a new brand name for the cars – Aurus – which is different from that of any other Russian car brand used before.

Ideas of naming the cars “Russo-Balt” after the old tsarist brand, if they ever existed, have obviously been shelved.  Someone has clearly made the undoubtedly correct decision that as this is an entirely new car range produced by Russia as its first commercial top end luxury car range in more than a century, it should be given a new name.

Aurus has no special meaning in Russian or in any other language.  However the ‘rus’ in Aurus clearly refers to Russia, whilst ‘aurum’ is Latin for gold.  Putting together the two syllables ‘au’ and ‘rus’ accordingly makes for a name which is suitable for a new top end Russian luxury car.

One of Russia’s biggest weaknesses in selling its products is the lack of any modern Russian tradition of branding, commercial branding being something which was largely unnecessary in the planned economy of the USSR.

The fact that someone has come up with the name Aurus for the new range of luxury cars shows that someone in authority in Russia is at last taking the issue of branding seriously.

Moreover the fact that a name has been chosen for the cars which alludes to Russia without being Russia specific (eg. “Volga”) may be a sign that there are plans to try to export the Aurus range of cars in future once domestic demand is satisfied.

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