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ZiL President concept - Putin's next wheels?

  ZiL - or Zavod imeni Likhachova - is a great name from the Soviet Union's past. The firm produced cars fit for Soviet leaders, such as Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev. But after a spell in the Presidential wilderness, the company had been commissioned to create a new ZiL-4112P limousine for the current Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who was reportedly fed up with seeing everyone in his country riding around in flash German metal. Unfortunately, Mr Putin is apparently unimpressed with his new wheels, which went into service last year. In response, Russian car design website Cardesign.ru and Russian supercar maker Marussia decided to hold an independent design competition to see if anyone could come up with a better solution. This awesome-looking ZiL President concept has been voted the winner.

 As should become clear from the visuals, the ZiL President gives a definite nod to the past, while completely embracing the future. It's the work of two former students - Yaroslav Yakovlev and Bernd Weel. It is heavily influenced by Russian architecture and is said to radiate 'power and authority'. It's fair to say this isn't a car for mere peasants.
  What's most remarkable is the fact that it was created in just three weeks. It would take longer for someone to fill a pothole in the UK. But that's not all. As the students live 1,500 miles apart, the ZiL President design was created using Skype and Dropbox. This is car design, 2013 style
 The designers settled on the following keywords for the design study - presence, power, timeless, minimalistic (but not primitive) and elegance. It's hard to argue with any of those. But we'd perhaps add imposing, sinister, large and 'my word, feast your eyes on that thing'.
 The first thing that strikes you - from the side view anyway - is the near-vertical A-pillar. Quickly followed by the massively wide C-pillar. It seems safe to say that EuroNCAP may not be too impressed with the design. The narrow side windows are said to be influenced by medieval Russian castles, although we're not sure how many Russian castles featured aluminium window frames to complement the armoured body.
 Maybe it's us, but we see more than a subtle hint of the Rolls-Royce Phantom at the front. The ZiL's ultra-long bonnet would give the Ford Capri a run for its money and help to provide the president with enough length to ensure the car could straddle two continents. Beautiful, it isn't. Imposing, it is.
 Possibly the ZiL President's best look is at the rear. We just love the huge central exhaust pipes and beautiful crescent-shaped rear lights. And check out the rear window. It's like something you'd find on a car driven by Al Capone in the 1920s.
 The designers haven't told us much about the interior, but for such a massive vehicle, you may be surprised to see the ZiL President is a strict four-seater. But wow, look at the legroom in the back. Also check out the central infotainment system and what appears to be a bulletproof panel separating the front and rear cabins.
 We're mildy amused by the dominant SRS AIRBAG inscription on the passenger side of the vehicle. It puts us in mind of a mid-90s Daewoo, when such features were seen as key selling points. And check out the automatic gearbox. This appears to have a rather primitive three-speed transmission. Very retro.
The internet is awash with concepts and wild drawings that will never come to fruition, but we're rather taken by this design study. Sure, it owes rather a lot to likes of Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Maybach, but it still feels 'very Russian'. Fit for Vladimir Putin? We think so..




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