Chi­nese brand en­ters pub­lic mar­ket

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE -

be taken for a ride in the new(ish) Hongqi.

No one told him that the Chi­nese didn’t wheel out the Hongqi L9 for Mr Hol­lande be­cause he would be miffed at miss­ing out on the L9’s ex­tra 30cm length.

But he would have basked in the knowl­edge that the limou­sine comes with a 300kW V12 engine.

The Hongqi L7 is the short wheel­base ver­sion of the 6.4m long L9.

The L7 fer­ries heads of state and provin­cial lead­ers but the L9 is ex­clu­sively for the Chi­nese head of state, who is cur­rently pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

Though seem­ingly iden­ti­cal in all but length, train spot­ters note the Chi­nese pres­i­dent’s L9 has ‘‘sui­cide’’ rear doors like the Roll­sRoyce Phan­tom but the L7 has con­ven­tional doors.

The lat­est L9 rolled out at the Shang­hai mo­tor show has re­verted to con­ven­tional rear doors.

Hol­lande is the first for­eign head of state in a Hongqi L7 — but he is far from the first French Pres­i­dent to ride in a Hongqi.

That hon­our goes to Fran­cois Mit­ter­rand dur­ing his visit to China in 1983 in a Hongqi CA770 . . . with the sui­cide doors.

The Hongqi Red Flag is a tra­di­tional limou­sine made since 1953 by FAW Group. FAW also makes sim­i­lar large sedans un­der the Hongqi label for high-end govern­ment of­fi­cials and is this year to start sup­ply­ing cars for pub­lic sale.

FAW — which part­ners with Mazda in car pro­duc­tion in China — has made 500 sedans for govern­ment use, most be­ing the H7.

Sim­i­lar in size to a Com­modore, the H7 com­petes with saloons in­clud­ing Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

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