Russia’s take on the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is a rip-off

The 2021 Aurus Komendant is a luxury SUV designed and built by Russian company Aurus. A brand owned by the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute (NAMI in Russian), Aurus also builds the Senat, a sedan that was unveiled in 2018. A version of this four-door is Vladimir Putin’s presidential car. Aurus also offers a van called the Arsenal.

Spotted testing in Sweden, the Komendant is not yet ready to go into production. But word has it that Aurus will debut the model at the 2020 Moscow Auto Show in August, with sales to commence sometime in 2021. At first glance, it looks like this SUV is aimed at the Bentley Bentayga and Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

Exterior

  • Borrows cues from Rolls-Royce Cullinan
  • Some features similar to Bentley Bentayga
  • Similar to other Aurus vehicles
  • Boxy front grille
  • Somewhat sleek roof
  • Featureless profile
  • Tailgate spoiler
  • Elegant
2021 Aurus Komendant SUV
- image 881101
The exterior design of the Komendant looks familiar if you've seen the Senat and the Arsenal.

That’s because all three vehicles share the same massive, rectangular grille. The heavily chromed element stretches from the nose to the bottom of the bumper and features vertical slats. The upper trim is also thicker than the rest of the frame and incorporates the company’s logo. But it also looks familiar because the grille is very similar to the one that Rolls-Royce has been using since day one.

The taillights are also almost identical to the ones seen on the Senat and Arsenal. Sporting a horizontal design, they flank the upper section of the grille and extend into the front fenders by a few inches. The lighting pattern is similar on all cars, with turn signals at the corners, round lights in the center, and two horizontal LED bars toward the grille. Again, these lights seem inspired by those seen on Rolls-Royce and even Bentley vehicles.

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The lower section of the grille is flanked by a pair of large vents that mimic the shape of the headlamps. Yet another feature that’s similar to the Senat sedan and the Arsenal van. But this layout is also almost identical to models from Rolls-Royce and Bentley.

So overall, the Komendant doesn't look very original and it reminds me a lot of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan up front.
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We can’t distinguish most of the SUV’s profile features due to the swirly camouflage, but it seems that the body panels are rather simple. I can spot a high beltline that runs way above the door handles, flush side skirts, and a mildly beefed-up rear wheel arch. I’m pretty sure that the camo hides the features of the Senat but updated for a more SUV-specific, utilitarian look. The roof has a bit of a slope toward the back, which sets apart from the Cullinan, which is boxier.

The rear is also heavily camouflaged and features prototype taillights, but it's pretty obvious that the design is very ordinary with a license plate recess in the lower tailgate and a clean bumper.

The latter needs some revisions as the lower section isn’t finished and the exhaust pipes pop out through much bigger cut outs. I’m guessing that the round end pieces will be replaced by rectangular elements shaped around the holes in the bumper. The spoiler atop the tailgate is rather big for an SUV, so it adds a sporty vibe. Luckily, the rear end doesn’t look like a Rolls-Royce, but it’s not very unique either. I can sense a bit of Audi Q7 in there.

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Interior

  • Still a mystery
  • Might be based on Senat
  • Luxury features
  • Big screens
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Leather upholstery
  • Authentic wood trim
  • Plenty of passenger room
2019 Aurus Senat
- image 831721

There are no spy shots of the interior, but the Komendant should be based on the Senat. And we’ve already seen the sedan at auto shows through Europe in 2019. Design-wise, the Senat looks pretty modern inside the cabin. Definitely a step up from the usual Russian cars, which are mostly spartan in order to keep costs down. Many of them look outdated even when new. But that’s not the case here.

Aurus went with a nice three-tier dashboard that combines a leather top, a carved-in center section that holds the digital displays and some wood trim, and an organic lower section finished in a contrasting color.

We should expect similar features in the SUV, but with a more rugged look.

The display layout is similar to that in current Mercedes-Benz vehicles, with two overlapping displays. Specifically, the infotainment screen and the digital instrument cluster are placed next to each other and look like they form a really wide display. Both screens appear to measure around 12 inches, the current premium market standard, and they should carry over just like that in the SUV.

2019 Aurus Senat
- image 831715

The door panels and the center console also feature a two-tone design in the Senat.

And you can pick from a wide variety of finishes, including six types of wood. That's impressive, because very few automakers offer so many veneer options.

The seats look very comfortable, but nothing says "fancy" more than a cabin fridge for champagne. The Senat has it and the SUV will have it too. Aurus will also add an analogue clock on the center stack for that vintage and elegant feel.

Comfort should be no issue in the Komendant thanks to seats that will recline to a 45-degree angle and will include ventilation and a massage function. Aurus will also add thick, soft carpets on the floor, a rear entertainment system with wireless headphones, and even pillows for the rear seats.

Granted, the fit and finish could be better in the Senat sedan, but let’s hope that Aurus fixes these issues until the Komendant goes into production.

Drivetrain

  • Mild hybrid
  • 4.4-liter V-8
  • 598 horsepower
  • 649 pound-feet of torque
  • V-12 engine possible
  • Diesel also possible
  • Nine-speed automatic transmission
  • All-wheel drive
2019 Aurus Senat
- image 829919

The Komendant should borrow its drivetrain from the Senat and Arsenal, both powered by a hybridized V-8 engine.

There's not much info about this system, but we do know that the engine is a twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V-8, while the "high-voltage electric machine" cranks out 42 kW, or around 56 horsepower.

Total system output is rated at 598 horsepower and 649 pound-feet of torque, which is impressive to say the least. Some rumors claim that this drivetrain was developed with help from Porsche and Bosch, but this information can’t be verified yet.

The hybrid system mates to a nine-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive module. Performance figures aren’t yet available, but expect the Komendant to be quite potent off the beaten path. The lightest Senat sedan charges to 62 mph in six seconds, so the SUV could hit the same benchmark in 6.5 seconds or less, depending on how much it will weight.

2019 Aurus Senat
- image 829908

Rumor has it that Aurus is also working on a V-12 engine with a displacement higher than 6.0 liters.

Aimed at Rolls-Royce and Bentley, this engine could develop close to 700 horsepower, assuming that it's also turbocharged.

We’ve also heard rumors that the 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel that Aurus is preparing for the Senat could make it into the Komendant as well, but there’s no official confirmation as of this writing.

As far as safety features go, the Komendant will include adaptive cruise control, electronic stability control, automatic emergency braking, and collision avoidance with pedestrian detection. It will also feature a road sign detection system and blind spot monitoring. It will be as modern as they get. The Senat comes with nine airbags, so the SUV should feature a similar layout.

Prices

2021 Aurus Komendant SUV
- image 881619

The Komendant should make its official debut at the 2020 Moscow Auto Show this August. Aurus will probably showcase it at the Paris Motor Show in October as well. Sales will begin sometime in 2021. The SUV will be limited to the Russian market at first, but Aurus plans to expand in the Middle East and China. Pricing information is still a mystery at this point, but with the Senat expecting to start from around $150,000, the Komendant could have a similar sticker.

Competition

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan Interior Exterior
- image 780089
2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan

The Komendant is clearly aimed at the Rolls-Royce Cullinan when it comes to design, materials, options, and even power. The Cullinan was unveiled in 2018 and it’s the first SUV from the British brand. Like the rest of the lineup, it features a boxy design and shares many styling elements with models like the Phantom and the Ghost. Inside the cabin, the Cullinan is inspired by classic Rolls-Royce models, so while it looks modern, it has a vintage vibe that reminds me of vehicles from the 1980s. But don’t let that fool you, this SUV is packed with state-of-the-art technology and features like a fridge for drinks, camping seats in the trunk, and a custom luggage set. The Cullinan hits the ground with a massive, turbocharged, 6.75-liter V-12 engine that cranks out 563 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. A quick comparison reveals that the Komendant is a tad more powerful. On the flipside, the Cullinan is notably more expensive, starting from $325,000 in the United States.

Read our full review of the 2020 Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Bentley Bentayga

2017 Bentley Bentayga
- image 833898

The Bentayga, Bentley’s first SUV, arrived much before the Cullinan, having been launched in 2015. Heavily based on the Continental GT design-wise, the Bentayga looks sportier than the Cullinan, with more organic body styling and round headlamps. But it’s just as luxurious on the inside, blending modern technology with fine materials and a cool selection of wood veneers and metal trim. Of course, the Bentley comes with similar luxury features like a fridge, a camping package for the truck, expensive leather luggage, and many more. Unlike its competitors, the Bentayga is available with no fewer than five drivetrains, starting with a 6.0-liter W-12 that generates a whopping 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque.

Then there’s the 4.0-liter V-8 that generates 542 horses and 568 pound-feet of twist. Bentley also offers a Speed model with a beefed-up W-12 that cranks out 626 horses and 664 pound-feet. If you’re looking for something more efficient, the hybrid version pairs a 3.0-liter V-6 to an electric motor for a total output of 456 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Finally, the diesel comes with a 4.0-liter V-8 rated at 429 horses and 664 pound-feet of twist. Pricing for the Bentayga starts from $165,000, much more affordable than the Cullinan, but the range-topping model comes in at $268,000 before options.

Read our full story on the 2020 Bentley Bentayga

Conclusion

2021 Aurus Komendant SUV
- image 881107

The Aurus Komendant is somewhat exotic, but only because it comes from Russia. This country is known for affordable and not so reliable vehicles, mostly from the Soviet era, so it’s rather spectacular to see a luxury car coming from there. Russia is a big consumer of luxury brands, so you’ll see a lot of German premium cars and even U.S. models there. Now, Russians can look at Aurus for home-built luxury cars and civilian versions of the vehicle that president Vladimir Putin rides in. Of course, Aurus’ vehicles are rip-offs of Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, but they’re better copies than the abominations we often see coming from China. It’s difficult to say whether this brand has a future or not, but the Russians are definitely trying.

  • Leave it
    • Rolls-Royce Cullinan rip-off
    • Expensive
    • Will it have enough success?
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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