Upgrade for Putin’s motorcade? Russia’s mystery VIP limo spotted near Moscow (VIDEO)

Upgrade for Putin’s motorcade? Russia’s mystery VIP limo spotted near Moscow (VIDEO)
A VIP car from Russia’s mystery “Cortege” project has been caught on camera for the first time outside Moscow. The camouflage-draped vehicle, from a series designed for the Russian President and top officials, was spotted during a test drive.

A heavy four-door sedan, draped in black-and-white camouflage covering, was driving at a moderate speed while performing sharp turns around a driving track in the Moscow region, at the scientific and motor research center NAMI which is in charge of the project.

What appears to be the first-ever public video of a “Cortege” car has been uploaded to YouTube by Russia’s Autoreview magazine. The video said sedans and minivans will be the first cars to be produced as part of the secretive project, with SUVs and a heavily-armored presidential limousine to follow next year.

The test drive involved checking the car’s engine, transmission and electronics. The car is a hybrid combining a gas engine and an electric engine. The design of the cars being developed by the “Cortege” project had been kept secret, but information leaks gave some clues as to their appearances.

The design for the president’s limo-to-be was chosen in an open contest back in 2013, with both Russian and international artists participating. One design was selected out of 80 pitches for the contest.

READ MORE: ‘Tsar-engine’ for president: Russian-manufactured VIP cars will have up to 850 horsepower

The “Cortege” limousine is expected to join the presidential fleet in 2018, Denis Manturov, Russia’s trade and industry minister, told RIA Novosti in July this year. According to the minister, a prototype of the VIP car will drive the president-elect to the inauguration ceremony after next year’s elections. 

Meanwhile, the Federal Protective Service, the Russian agency in charge of providing security for the president and the government, will get 16 vehicles of the “Cortege” series by the end of 2017, Russian media reported.

The “Cortege” family will also include vehicles for the open market. The Moscow-based Sollers company, the cars’ principal manufacturer, plans on producing 5,000 VIP vehicles a year.