Soviet-era Moskvich brand revives by Russia with Chinese model

Advertisement A view of the Russian ‘Mariner’ logo on the Mariner luxury sedan in Saint Petersburg. (

Russia on Wednesday launched production of the Moskvich car brand at a plant near Moscow given up by the French carmaker Renault, with a new, modern Chinese design that barely resembles an earlier model from the late 1970s.

The vehicle has 4.1 meters (13 feet) long and has been named after one of its pioneers – Alexander Moskovich, who was credited for his role in starting the revolution to end Communism in Russia after signing the 1917 peace treaty that ended World War Two, but was killed in 1942 during the Berlin Putsch.

The sleek, blacked-out Nissan, which will be offered as a three-, five- or seven-seater saloon, is based on the latest Mercedes SUV S class, which gets its name partly from the German city of Stuttgart, where it was originally developed.

The interior of the mariner features a range of smart functionalities, including wireless smartphone charging, two high-speed cameras with electronic face recognition technology, Bluetooth handsfree phone communication, air vents, heated front seats, power windows, a rear sunshade, headlamps and an infotainment screen.

The exterior also includes 18 inch alloy wheels and wide side windows reminiscent of those fitted to cars produced in Italy, such as the Volkswagen Golf R, Renault Tribera GT, Citroen CXC, Fiat 500c, Dodge Challenger, Jeep Wrangler and Datsun 600.

This striking white exterior sits atop a blue carbon fibre undercarriage, with large diamond cutters integrated into its bodywork. The door, headlights, bumper skirt and bumper are finished off in a contrasting colour called ‘marinara’.

It is made entirely in China by a state-owned company using state-of-the-art technologies (including 3D printing), having cost $5.3 million (about €4.1 million) to make. However some analysts have suggested this can only qualify as a niche product of the local market, as Western brands dominate the consumer car market as well as the heavy commercial car sector.

The mariner measures 27-inch long just over 7.5 m (20 ft 9 in) and weighs 845 grams – a little more than the weight of a small child. It can seat four people, has a claimed top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph) and has a top speed of 110 km/h (68 mph).

The official website describes the luxurious motor as being designed to take you places but does not provide any further details about the interior. They say the first deliveries of the car will begin in 2024 but there is no indication of when those deliveries may occur.

The price for the mariner is stated as £1.6 million while the Vauxhall Corsa costs between £2.4m and £2.8m. In addition, owners of the existing 1.4 TSI G70 will receive free upgrades or discounts if they trade their previous car, although there is no mention on how much and what that involves.

The original Mariner was created by Italian designer Uwe Schulze before being taken apart for spare parts from elsewhere.

The engine options include a 2.0 litre straight-six, a turbocharged petrol engine and a naturally-aspirated diesel engine of 6.0 litres capacity. Other specifications include cruise control assistance, active and passive safety systems (dual zone alert), full LED front lights, panoramic moonroof windows, adjustable driver posture control, satellite navigation, remote keyless entry and remote start.

The latter function is intended to work through touchscreens mounted either side of the steering wheel. There is wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support as well, although it seems unlikely these functions will ever become standard equipment, seeing as Google and Apple have banned third party apps from operating on their platforms.

The current lineup of models includes M6 and X6 versions. Only the second generation version of the crossover will feature the next generation i-Activ AWD system (the successor to the now redundant CVT) as standard equipment, along with enhanced safety features like blind spot monitoring, forward warning radar and adaptive cruise control that reduce speeds by slowing down in certain situations.

For those wondering if the car might be worth owning, then their answer is surely yes. This could be because this mariner offers an attractive value for money, with prices comparable to similar vehicles developed in Europe, particularly from Germany where Mercedes has a manufacturing base for its US-based subsidiary AMG.

However, we do find similarities in styling between the original and most recently unveiled. Both are almost identical except for the absence of chrome elements in the tailgate trim, plus the presence of hexagonal exhaust outlets. And both come in a variety of colours.

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