Chinese brand enters public market
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.