Aurus Senat: Russia’s Rolls-Royce that Putin gifted to Kim Jong Un

Published: 21 February 2024 Updated: 23 February 2024

► Russia’s take on a luxury car
► Limousine is used by Russian president
► Putin has gifted an Aurus to the North Korean leader

Russian president Vladimir Putin has gifted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un an Aurus Senat – Russia’s homemade luxury car that is the country’s take on Rolls-Royce.

Delivered to Kim’s top officials in the North Korean capital Pyongyang on Sunday (18 February), the Kremlin has since confirmed that the Aurus saloon was a gift from Putin himself. 

What is an Aurus?

Aurus was set up after Putin tasked the country to produce its own take on a luxury car, with its first model – the Senat – being produced from 2018. 

Aurus Senat Limousine side

Run by Russia’s Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute, abbreviated to NAMI, Aurus was created following Putin’s instruction to make its own presidential vehicles.

Putin has been using an Aurus Senat since 2018 as his personal presidential vehicle, with the car being available to the public since 2021.

What exactly is the Aurus Senat?

The Senat is a large saloon that comes in three forms – the standard Senat, the Senat Long and the Senat Limousine – the latter being more like a Mercedes-Maybach Pullman with its elongated bodywork.

Aurus Senat Limousine interior

According to the firm’s website, the Senat Limousine is the ‘first luxury car from Russia’, and represents the ‘renaissance of Russia’s industrial, scientific and technological potential’. It’s fully armoured – not surprising given Putin uses one – and uses a 4.4-litre twin-turbo hybrid V8 engine producing 590bhp and 649lb ft of torque. The engine is developed by NAMI but Porsche is said to have been involved in it too. 

Aurus has since expanded its range to include the Komendant SUV, which launched in in Russia in 2023. 

Can you only buy an Aurus in Russia?

Aurus set out to create cars first and foremost for its most discerning native customers, namely Putin himself. However, it always signalled intent to expand beyond Russia.

The Aurus Senat was even displayed at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show – its first showing in Europe following its reveal at the Moscow motor show a year earlier. Aurus originally set out to export the luxury saloon to the Middle East and China as well, though following Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, any expansion plans have since been halted. 

Aurus Senat Limousine rear

Aurus models are produced in small numbers, with just 31 cars reportedly sold in Russia in 2022, accounting for 8% of the overall luxury car market in the country. It’s not clear what impact Western car manufacturers pulling out of the Russian market following the Ukraine conflict has had on its sales. 

What does the North Korean leader think of his new car?

On a visit to Russia in September 2023, Kim Jong Un reportedly inspected Mr Putin’s personal Aurus Senat Limousine and ‘liked it’. 

According to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim’s sister, and senior Pyongyang official, Kim Yo Jong thanked Putin on her brother’s behalf, saying: ‘The gift serves as a clear demonstration of the special personal relations between the top leaders’. 

Aurus Senat front

However, the gift is thought to have breached United Nations Security Council sanctions that ban certain exports into the country, including luxury goods, with South Korea’s foreign ministry said to be closely monitoring the cooperation between Russia and North Korea. 

Kim Jong Un is believed to be an avid car enthusiast and, despite the UN sanctions, has amassed a collection of luxury foreign vehicles, using a new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class on a previous visit to Russia in 2019. 

By Ted Welford

Senior staff writer at CAR and our sister website Parkers. Loves a car auction. Enjoys making things shiny