The Karlmann King is clearly unlike any other SUV but at a starting cost of £1.56 million what sets it apart from any other 4×4 that’s come before it?
According to Chinese company IAT Auto only ten of them will be produced making it very limited edition. They claim over 1800 people were involved in the making of the vehicle including top automobile designers and engineers from Europe where it is manufactured. IAT Automobile Technology is a hi-tech enterprise in Beijing that focuses on automobile development, assembly, auto-parts development, vehicle prototyping and tests. Established in 2002, it designs and develops automobile, powertrain, and electric vehicles.
The sharp-angled carbon fibre and steel exterior with the upgrade option of bulletproofing gives the SUV a stealthy and military style which looks not too dissimilar to Christian Bale’s Batmobile. It weighs 4.5 tonnes (6.6 tonnes with a bulletproof chassis) and with the high kerb weight its top speed is only 87 miles per hour. That’s despite the 395-horsepower produced by the 6.8-litre Triton V10 engine.
The petrol engine itself is sourced from a Ford F-550, a commercial US-made truck which surprisingly the elite SUV was based on. It was designed for Unique Club, a company that normally modifies Ford and Chevrolet vans for the Chinese market. Karlmann King is their first self-developed automobile.
The SUV’s most luxurious features are found on the inside. The million-plus price tag does allow for complete customisation with buyers being able to choose the interior colour scheme. At nearly six metres long the Karlmann has only two rear leather seats but when passengers sit in one of the reclining air-conditioned chairs they can enjoy several extravagant features. The neon mood lighting can light up the Alcantara, gold thread and dark wood trim around the vehicle as well as the gadgets inside. A fridge with allocated space for champagne bottles and glasses, a coffee machine, satellite television, PlayStation 4, karaoke system and tea cups are all included.
The car does get its name from an actual king and suggests a German influence. ‘King Karlmann’ was a 7th century Frankish king of the Carolingian dynasty (known as Karlings) who was King of Bavaria and King of Italy in the 800s. In China the last name always comes first which could be why it is called Karlmann King instead of King Karlmann. The logo of the elite SUV depicts a sword and a German flag beneath the car’s name to highlight the history behind the name.
The Karlmann King website says the SUV brings an ‘unprecedented visual feast and driving experience to global car enthusiasts’. And it won’t matter where in the world it ends up as the Karlmann is reported to operate easily in extreme conditions from -40 to 200 degrees Celsius. This car is the ultimate collectable but is it worth the money compared to other high-end SUVs?
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