ZIL 4112-R: A Cold War relic resurrected

ZIL 4112-RIn Russia, one carmaker is still fighting the Cold War. ZIL, maker of the giant limousines that ferried Soviet dictators from military parades to their dachas, is seeking to update these relics of history. The company’s new model carries the appropriately bureaucratic name ZIL 4112-R.

If you’re old enough to remember the Cold War, you may have seen the 4112-R’s predecessor ferrying Brezhnev, Andropov, or Gorbachev around. As an arm of the Soviet state’s centralized economy, ZIL (as ZIS, or “Stalin Works” before 1956) built trucks for the Red Army, and was the preferred ride of all Soviet leaders from Stalin on down.

The ZIL 4112-R, then, has a history that most executives would not include in glossy brochures. Yet, despite ending production in 2002, ZIL sees a new market for these gargantuan limos. Maybe the company hopes to cash in on the retro ‘80s craze.

Other than the Brezhnev seal of approval, the ZIL limo does not have much going for it. The company says the 4112-R combines the traditional look of Cold War-era ZILs with updated mechanicals, but that isn’t saying much.

The old 7.7-liter V8 now has fuel injection, giving it 400 horsepower, 85 more than the old model, and is connected to an American-made Allison five-speed automatic transmission. That’s the same transmission General Motors offers in its heavy duty pickup trucks.ZIL 4112-R interior

ZIL says, despite the extra, power, the new limo’s top speed is still limited to about 120 mph. That’s not bad, considering that the 4112-R weighs 7,700 pounds.

Naturally, this Commie cruiser is weighed down with luxury. It seats six: two in front, and four in back in two rows of facing bucket seats. The rear passengers enjoy Learjet-like amenities, including tray tables and a wood-covered overhead panel with vents and lighting. Other perks include privacy curtains and a built-in champagne cooler.

That classic styling gets some slight updates in the form of new headlights and taillights, as well as less chrome trim. The ZIL still brings new meaning to the phrase “designed by a committee.”

The ZIL 4112-R is an impressive chunk of Russian luxury, but isn’t reintroducing it to the post-Cold War world a bit distasteful? No one wants to be reminded of the brutality of the Soviet regime.

Still, ZIL says its reborn limo has a purpose. The Russian government wants Russian cars for its official fleet; it’s a matter of national pride and the same reason American Presidents cruise around in Cadillacs.

Since the end of the Cold War, Russians have tried to separate their history from the history of Soviet rule. Is the ZIL a Soviet or Russian icon? Its maker is betting that it is the latter, and that this titanic limo can shed its unpleasant past.

Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?
Cars

Tesla gives us a cryptic look at its cyberpunk, Blade Runner-inspired pickup

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself. It could make its debut in 2019.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Cars

Bentley’s 542-horsepower Continental GT V8 is the best kind of downsizing

The Bentley Continental GT V8 has fewer cylinders than its W12 sibling, but Bentley expects it to offer better gas mileage and more agile handling. The V8's top speed of 198 mph is also pretty darn fast.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.
Cars

Mercedes wants to turn your car into a comfortable shopping mall on wheels

Mercedes-Benz designed its MBUX infotainment system with e-commerce in mind. Motorists can upgrade compatible cars via an over-the-air software updating system, but the brand wants to take this technology to the next level.
Cars

Nvidia’s new simulator brings virtual learning to autonomous vehicle developers

Nvidia introduced a simulator for testing autonomous vehicle technologies. Drive Constellation is a cloud-based platform technology vendors can use to validate systems efficiently, safely, and much faster than with vehicles on real roads.
Cars

Tesla wirelessly gives the Model 3 a 5-percent increase in power

Tesla again showed the potential of its innovative over-the-air software updating system by making the Model 3 five percent more powerful via a firmware update. The Performance model gained 23 horsepower.
Cars

Fiat wants to transform the cheeky 500 city car into an urban Tesla

Fiat is finally preparing a new 500. Scheduled to make its debut in early 2020, the retro-chic city car will go electric in part to comply with looming emissions regulations.
Cars

Say goodbye to Uber for good: Here's how to cut ties with the ridesharing service

If you thought that deleting the Uber app would also delete your account, think again. You'll have to deactivate your account, then wait 30 days in order to do so. Here, we outlined how to delete your Uber account once and for all.
Cars

FWD vs. RWD vs. AWD: How the wheels that turn change the way you drive

Let's face it, you've likely heard front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive mentioned before in some context or another. But what do these terms mean, especially in terms of performance? We’ve got the answers.
Cars

Shift it yourself: How to drive stick in a manual transmission car

Driving a manual transmission car might seem intimidating at first, but it's not as difficult as you might think. Knowing how to operate this type of gearbox will serve you well. Here's everything you need to know to learn how to drive…
Cars

Waymo boosts robo-taxi plans with new service center in Arizona

Waymo has announced plans for a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, that will help to service, maintain, and grow its fleet of autonomous Waymo One cars. The vehicles operate as part of the company's robo-taxi ridesharing service.