ZiL or Zavod imeni Lichačeva is still known today mainly for its luxury limousines used by the highest representatives of the Eastern Bloc, although during its history it also produced trucks. After the collapse of the USSR, however, his fame faded quickly, the last attempt to return to prominence was made in 2012.
It was then that the ZiL 4112R debuted, a project for a new Russian state limousine that was supposed to revive the glory of this automaker. The car was intended as a successor to the most famous Zils – it was therefore supposed to be a vehicle used by the Russian president and other government officials. It could also be available to regular clientele, i.e. those who would have enough funds for it. Incidentally, the letter R referred to Sergej Rozhkov, the founder of Depo-ZiL.
The basis was the ZiL 41047 produced since the mid-eighties, which is evident in its strictly angular bodywork, which did not lose much of its beauty. However, the front and rear of the ZiLu 4112R have changed, the distinguishing feature being the dominant mask with horizontal edging and prominent headlights. Vertically oriented taillights then appeared at the back.
The limousine continued with its respectable dimensions. The ZiL 4112R stretched up to 6.23 meters with a wheelbase of 4.08 meters. After all, that’s why this “Russian Rolls-Royce” had six doors. At the same time, the rear pair opened against the direction of travel, for easier entry.
The cabin had to meet the highest demands of the target clientele – leather upholstery and wooden decor were complemented by air conditioning with special air curtains, for the possibility of setting different temperatures in different parts of the interior. There was also a minibar and a television, which, in addition to the entertainment function, also had the function of dividing the space for the crew and the driver. In the back, by the way, there were four seats facing each other. However, the one against the direction of travel was more of an emergency.
A heart in the spirit of the most famous Zils
The drive was provided by an engine exactly corresponding to ZiLu’s historical legacy. His limousines always used giant aggregates, which was also true of the 4112R. Inside it was a forked eight-cylinder with an already incredible volume of 7.7 liters, which provided an output of 294 kW and a torque of 610 Nm. It was mated to a five-speed Allison automatic transmission that sent torque to the rear wheels. The gasoline engine of its own design had injection instead of the previously used carburetors in older vehicles. It met the Euro 4 emission standard.
A giant engine was needed, because it had to move a vehicle weighing 3.5 tons. And that without armouring, although it was also expected in the future. Despite the weight, the 4112R reached speeds of up to 200 km/h. However, the undeniably interesting limousine ultimately remained only in the prototype phase.
ZiL 4112R was already hopelessly out of date at the time of its premiere. As a statesman’s limousine, it looked ridiculous and was simply not enough for the competition. After all, he didn’t even have a chance to attract Russian statesmen back from luxury cars from the West (mainly the Mercedes S Pullman) to a representative limousine of domestic provenance.
Instead of ZiLu Aurus
In 2012, however, work began on a completely new representative vehicle, for which the Russian government allocated 25 billion crowns. The result of this so-called Průvod project was the Aurus Senat limousine, including derivative models of the Lafet station wagon, Komendant SUV and Arsenal MPV. She presented herself to the world in 2018.
The Aurus Senat became a limousine up to 6.62 meters long (5.63 meters in the default version) powered by a hybrid system, combining a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 and an electric motor, developed by the Russian NAMI Institute in cooperation with Porsche Engineering.
In connection with this car, at first there was talk of a possible revival of the ZiL brand, but in the end the novelty used the new Aurus brand. It thus became the spiritual successor of the ZiLu, just like its predecessor, it is the most luxurious Russian-made vehicle.
In the end, this is a similar “exclusivity” to zillas. The originally announced plans for the production of thousands of examples did not come to fruition, and the Aurus became a commercial failure, only a few dozen units were built in a few years after its debut.