Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will no longer be using his armoured Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard Pullman as his official car. According to the Moscow-based RT news channel, Putin has just taken his inaugural ride in his new Russian-made Cortege limousine.
If you haven’t heard of the name Cortege, that’s because it’s not a vehicle manufacturer in a conventional sense. Cortege is a name of a project rather than a company. The project was initiated by Russia’s Central Scientific Research Automobile & Engine Institute (NAMI) with the goal of building a series of vehicles – a limousine, a sedan and an off-road vehicle – aimed primarily at Russia’s political elites.
According to Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Cortege will produce 70 vehicles in 2018, 200 in 2019, and 300 in 2020. There are also plans to offer standard vehicles for sale to the public at a later stage.
The project was co-developed by Porsche and Bosch but not much else is known about the extent of the partnership.
Now that Russia is back in form, Putin understands the symbolic value of a Russian-made limousine and in 2012, had NAMI began work on Project Cortege.
Putin’s previous official car, the armoured W221 generation Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard Pullman was powered by a 5.5-litre twin-turbo V12 that produced 517 PS and 830 Nm. It was equipped with run-flat tyres and a completely sealed cabin whose air-conditioning system came with an emergency air supply to withstand against chemical gas attacks. The vehicle’s underbody was also resistant against explosives and had fire extinguishers capable of putting out fires beneath the car. The fuel tank also had special materials that automatically plugs any leaks.
We know all that because the S600 Guard Pullman can be purchased from any Mercedes-Benz dealer, as long as the buyer meets Daimler’s profile vetting and the sale and eventual disposal of the car does not contravene against any European Union regulations. In other words, Putin can buy the car but not a wanted arms dealer. Of course, that hasn't stop Kim Jong-un from getting one for himself.
As for Putin’s latest Cortege, there is no information on the engine’s specifications or the defence systems installed but RT says it will be made public over the next few days. We are certain that it meets the expectations of the former KGB agent.