A Dh4 million Italian-made, hyper-luxury SUV made its global public debut in Dubai in April, with the company also confirming its first sale to a UAE businessman.
The Aznom Palladium is an extravagant six-metre, all-terrain limousine. It is loosely based on the RAM 1500 Limited pick-up, which has been stripped down and rebuilt as a super-luxurious, four-seat, off-roading saloon.
Origins and inspiration
Aznom chief executive Marcello Meregalli, who was inspired after seeing the purpose-built, armoured limousine that carries the US president during a visit to New York, decided to build his interpretation of the presidential Cadillac and make it available to buy, with his eye on the Middle East as the target market.
“We chose the UAE to reveal the Palladium because of the dimensions and for the utilisation of the car. I think this is the best region for such a vehicle. It will be limited to a maximum of 10, [hence] the focus on the GCC,” says Mr Meregalli.
Chief designer Matteo Bertinelli says the Middle East was his guiding influence from the beginning.
“When we started to design the Palladium, the focus was Abu Dhabi and Dubai as they’re the right places for the dimension and also for the approach people here have to this style of car. This region understands this car … here is its natural habitat.”
Using the flagship RAM 1500 Limited as the base, Aznom replaced the 5.7-litre V8 with a modified version of RAM’s performance engine from the TRX, which has a pair of turbochargers and is beefed up to 6.4 litres.
It develops 850 brake horsepower and 1,050Nm of torque, allowing it to go from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in 4.5 seconds, with a top speed approaching 250kph, running through a reinforced eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
The system 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 Palladium sits 30mm lower than the RAM and rides on bespoke shock absorbers. The ventilated brake discs measuring 408mm x 34mm, are coupled with Brembo six-piston callipers. Four-piston callipers work the 380mm x 28mm discs in the rear.
“You can upgrade to carbon ceramic brakes. Not surprisingly for a car this size, they are the biggest carbon ceramic brake discs in the world, measuring 450mm,” says Mr Bertinelli.
Mr Meregalli says the limited run of 10 cars is because it takes eight months to build each one.
Large but luxe
“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.”
At 5,960mm long and 1,971mm tall, the Aznom Palladium is one of the biggest four-door saloons on the road.
“We had to respect some basic points, so the A, B and C pillars are the same [as the RAM 1500 SUV truck], but we could play with the rear. Back there, we had more freedom, so we removed the pick-up part and started from zero to create something special,” says Mr Meregalli.
“The boot opens like a drawer because I wanted to create something different yet very practical. By sliding out, it’s easier to reach items in the rear and you can tailor it to whatever you need.”
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. Passengers in the rear sit well behind the door for privacy, but can still peer out through tiny, slimline windows in the rear pillar.
The car is named after the rare and precious mineral palladium, which has been used on the highly expensive removable clock mounted between the seats.
A controller area network (CAN) 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-conditioning and hidden compartment access, the rear passengers operate an independent set of features for their seats including their own AC, seat adjustments, windows, and access to the fridge and glass cabinets.
On the horizon
The Palladium was launched at a VIP event for customers of Adamas Motors, the distributor of Aznom in the Middle East. With Lotus, Aston Martin, McLaren, Morgan and Ineos under its remit across markets in the GCC, Adamas Motors and its founder Karl Hamas are hopeful of finding the nine remaining customers. Adamas was recently placed as the number-one Lotus dealer in the world based on volume, while the Dubai-based operation has also secured 320 deposits for the Ineos Grenadier due in September.
The Palladium is the first of four cars to come from Aznom Automotive. The other three are on the drawing board and light years apart from the giant SUV in concept.
The coming Aznom Serpas is based on the Rapture SL made by UK sports car 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.
These will be topped by the Aznom DolceVita that is more of a touring GT coupe using AMG running gear and most likely adapted from a Mercedes SLC donor.