Under development for the last four years, the Hongqi L5 debuted at the Beijing auto show with a 5-million yuan sticker. To own China’s most expensive car, you’ll pay the U.S. equivalent of $801,624, which, as far as we can tell, is the most expensive car to carry one of those small, oval “Made in China” stickers. (Stick ’em on in bulk if it’ll make you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.) Naturally,somebody bought the first one right from the show floor.
Nailing 50 years’ worth of luxury, its specifications are fittingly impressive. It digs into the pavement with three tons of intimidation. It is 20 feet long. There’s a 6.0-liter V12 that produces around 400 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic carries this power to all four wheels because the snow in Beijing arrives late but fast. It carries the upright slab-sidedness of not only its styling homage, the famous CA770, but also to various Kenmore products, the works of Mies van der Rohe, etc. The grille mimics the CA770 perfectly. You’d be tempted to put eyelashes on the big chrome headlights, but I wouldn’t, comrade.
And you thought the Chinese couldn’t do retro. Please. There’s 8,000 years of history here, most of it manifested within the L5: celadon-jade door handles, hand-carved wood inlays with little clouds on them, perforated leather everything, a tablet center console–even a Bose sound system. The minimalistic interior looks like a comfy place from which to direct the invisible hand of faux-Marxism or engage in ludicrous sex scandals. If the Hongqi L5 is derivative, as Western media sardonically paints all the efforts of China’s nascent car industry, then it’s derivative only to its past.
Read more at AutoWeek.