Consumers are more likely to favour brands of tyre factory-fitted on performance or prestige cars. It’s no wonder then that all leading tyre makers strive to gain original equipment approvals. Linglong Tire recently scored a coup when FAW Group chose its tyres for what’s said to be China’s most expensive car, the Hongqi L5.
And the Hongqi L5 doesn’t just top the pricey rides list – it’s also the official state car of the People’s Republic of China and wheels of choice for the country’s President, Xi Jinping. We haven’t checked the tyres on Xi’s presidential saloon, but there’s every chance the car rolls on Linglong CrossWind tyres. Linglong Tire is supplying this particular model to Hongqi in size 275/40 R20 for fitment on the L5.
The future, 50s style
What kind of vehicle is the car Jeremy Clarkson described as “magnificent and evil”? Well, if you’d asked a comic book artist back in the 1950s to envision a car of the future, this is probably what they’d draw. The retro styling of the L5 takes many cues from previous models. It even bears more than a passing resemblance to the Hongqi CA72 of 1958, a car loosely based upon Chryslers of the day.
The L5 comes with a 6.0 litre V12 engine under the bonnet. This delivers 402 hp (300 kW) to the road via a full-time 4WD drivetrain. With acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h a stately 8.3 seconds, a drag race with flagship models from Europe or the USA would give the Hongqi driver a splendid view of the rivals’ taillights. The W speed rated Linglong tyres are more than adequate for a top speed of 220 km/h or 137 mph.
Speed and performance isn’t the 3.15-tonne, 5.6 metre saloon’s remit. But should you desire to wallow in luxury befitting a head of state, the L5 is the car for you. The top of the line Hongqi doesn’t just settle for the finest in wood and leather, along with a swag of electronic goodies. The standard features list includes unique touches such as jade-inlay interior door handles. And one would hope the stylised red flag turning indicators on the sides gain President Xi’s nod of approval. Hongqi is, incidentally, the Chinese word for Red Flag.
For China only
All this car can be yours if you have at least RMB 5 million (£558,000) to spare – and if the manufacturer deems you worthy of the Hongqi L5. It also helps if you live in China. Unlike other FAW Group products, the luxury Hongqi isn’t offered for export.
As mentioned, the Linglong CrossWind 275/40 R20 is W speed rated. This means it’s good for 168 mph or 270 km/h. Linglong Tire says the tyre’s directional tread pattern offers “excellent handling performance” and “low noise.” We’ve seen this particular CrossWind model as far afield as Australia and the Americas, however Linglong doesn’t currently offer it for sale in the UK or Europe.