A €1 million ($1.5m) Italian-made, hyper-luxury SUV has made its global public debut this week in Dubai, where the company also confirmed its first sale to a UAE businessman.
The Aznom Palladium is an extravagant six-metre long, super luxurious, all-terrain limousine loosely based on the Ram 1500 Limited pick-up before being stripped back and rebuilt as a luxury, four-seat, off-roading saloon.
Inspired after seeing the purpose-built, armoured limousine that carries the US President during a visit to New York, Aznom CEO Marcello Meregalli decided to build his interpretation of the Presidential Cadillac and make it available to buy, with his eye on the Middle East.
“I didn’t expect the President’s Cadillac to be so big. We’ve worked for other brands in the automotive industry and I always wanted to do something that doesn’t focus on the standard Italian supercar concept of two-seats and 300km/h. So when I saw ‘The Beast,’ I thought we could do something similar,” Mr Meregalli said.
“We chose the UAE to reveal the Palladium because of the dimensions of the car and for the utilisation. I think this is the best region for such a vehicle. It will be limited to a maximum 10 only, so we cannot sell it everywhere and I think that focusing on the GCC where there is plenty of space and better fuel prices, makes it the best region in the world for such a car.”
Using the flagship RAM 1500 Limited as the base, Aznom replaced its 5.7-litre V8 with a modified version of RAM’s performance engine from the TRX that now boasts a pair of turbochargers and has been beefed up to 6.4-litres.
It develops 634kW and 1050Nm of torque that should make its performance claim close to four seconds to 100km/h with a top speed approaching 250km/h.
Other mechanical tweaks include two air-to-water intercoolers, forged pistons, bespoke steel H-beam conrods, reinforced nimonic valve springs, a rebalanced camshaft and driveshaft, and a bespoke head gasket, bearings and fuel injectors.
It runs through a reinforced eight-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system that starts in rear-wheel drive but can switch to automatic four-wheel drive or four-wheel drive with locking differentials, and includes a shorter ratio for heavy duty off-roading.
“The RAM is the best to do such a big car because you cannot find another body-on-frame chassis that’s so big and all the electronics are also completely new. We have reinforced the chassis with a roll cage and we’ve completely changed the dynamic parts of the suspension and brakes as well,” Mr Meregalli added.
It now sits 30mm lower and rides on new shock absorbers made exclusively for the Palladium that can work in 30 different configurations. The front ventilated discs measuring 408 x 34mm are coupled with Brembo six-piston calipers, with four-piston calipers working 380 x 28mm discs on the rear.
“You can upgrade to carbon ceramic brakes which we have made in collaboration with Carbon Brake and not surprisingly for a car this size, they are the biggest carbon ceramic brake discs in the world, measuring 450mm and sit on 10-piston calipers,” Mr Meregalli said.
Meregalli added that the limited run of 10 cars is because it takes eight months to build each car, giving it a production life of nearly seven years.
“We started the design process at the end of 2018 and defined all the design requirements by the end of 2019, so we are now ready to start manufacturing the first panels for the production models.”
The Monza-based company is working in collaboration with Camal design studios of Turin under design chief Matteo Bertinelli.
“The idea was to make a very big car that didn’t look so big when you see it parked alone. It’s not until you park next to another car that the size is noticeable,” Bertinelli said.
At 5960mm long and 1971mm tall, it’s undoubtedly the biggest four-door saloon on the road, coming from one of the largest SUV trucks on the market.
“We had to respect some basic points, so the A, B and C pillars are the same but we could play with the rear of the car. Back there, we had more freedom, so we removed the pick-up part and started from zero to create something special,” Mr Bertinelli added.
“The boot opens like a drawer because I wanted to create something different but very practical. By sliding out, it’s easier to reach items at the rear and you can tailor it to whatever you need whether it be carrying camping gear or even a wedding dress.
“We were more limited at the front but wanted to increase the size, so I added 15cm from the Ram to emphasise the size of the car.”
With a background in bespoke leathers supplying tailored luggage for the likes of Pagani, Aznom has gone to town with the interior that dwarfs even the largest Rolls-Royce for size.
Two individual seats that recline and provide foot rests take up the rear, separated by a fridge with a sliding drinks cabinet with crystal glasses. The rear seat occupants sit well back in the c-pillar area behind the door for better privacy and protection but can still peer out through tiny, slimline windows.
The car is named after the rare and precious mineral Palladium, which is extensively used in jewellery and also on the highly expensive removable clock mounted between the seats.
A CAN (Controller Area Network) works simultaneously with the main electronic system for the transmission and mechanicals of the car, yet remains independent to allow passengers to control all the comfort features from small displays mounted in each door.
While the driver’s display controls the locks and all windows as well as the fridge temperature, drawers, cockpit lighting, front air-conditioner and hidden compartment access, the rear passengers operate an independent set of features for their seats including their own a/c, seat adjustments, windows and access to the fridge and glass cabinets.
The Palladium is the first of four cars to come from Aznom Automotive with three more on the drawing board that are light years apart from the giant SUV in concept.
The upcoming Aznom Serpas is based on the Rapture SL made by UK sportscar specialist Radical as a replacement to the highly successful SR3 track car.
It will be followed by the Serpas hardtop coupe which will come from a Lotus Emira starting point and these will be topped by the Aznom DolceVita that’s more of a touring GT using AMG running gear and most likely adapted from a Mercedes SLC donor.