Chinese limo aims to catch Western brands

Chinese automaker Hongqi is finally readying its exclusive HQE limousine for production, according to media reports from China.

The Hongqi HQE, often seen as the Chinese answer to the luxury Maybach 62 or Rolls Royce Phantom, drew considerable attention when Chinese President Hu Jintao was pictured reviewing troops in it in 2009.

Now, the car is set to enter production and is expected to soon be on sale as the most expensive car ever produced by China.

Its 6.0 liter V12 engine will be the first domestically produced ultra-luxury engine and is seen as something of a leap for the Chinese auto industry, which has previously relied on external brands supplying engines for its top-end models.

With a price of 8 million yuan (€906,000) and bullet-proof windows, the HQE is clearly aimed at China's burgeoning elite, although it remains to be seen whether a Chinese vehicle will hold the same cachet as established luxury marques such as Bentley, Maybach or Rolls Royce.

Earlier this year, Rolls Royce announced that its sales in China tripled in the first quarter of 2010, saying that it had a healthy order bank for its Phantom and Ghost models in the country, now its third largest market globally.

How do they compare?

Hongqi HQE Engine: 6.0L V12 300 kW Length: 6395 mm Price: €906,000
Maybach 62 Engine: 6.0L V12, 450 kW Length 6165 mm Price: €492,602
Rolls Royce Phantom (extended wheelbase) Engine: 6.75L V12 338 kW Length 6,084 mm Price €379,000