The decadent LS7 sports an eye-watering $235,000 price tag.
If you're in the market for a luxurious full-size SUV, consumers can select from several appealing options in the USA. The Cadillac Escalade ESV is proving to be the most popular with American customers, although this hasn't stopped rivals from introducing new rivals. In this week alone, BMW has revealed the updated X7, and Jeep has introduced a long-wheelbase Grand Wagoneer.
But if you're in China, there's even more choice. The Hongqi LS7 is the Red Dragon's riposte to the aforementioned western rivals and, while Hongqi doesn't have much gravitas stateside, it's a properly prestigious brand in its home country. At 224 inches long, it's almost the same size as the ESV but, unlike the big Caddy, it doesn't utilize its massive proportions for practical reasons.
But let's look at the styling first. The LS7 could never be described as pretty, but it has an undeniable presence. The squared-off front end is dominated by a large grille, flanked by LED headlamps and chrome embellishments. Painted in black, it's positively sinister.
Despite the large measurements, the side profile isn't as awkward as other similarly sized SUVs. It's rather well-proportioned and is devoid of unnecessary styling gimmicks, save for the chrome trimmings on the rearmost side window. Round back, the styling is less successful. An oversized light bar spans the width of the rear facia but it's not the most divisive detailing - that faux diffuser won't win any fans.
All of this is forgotten once you climb aboard. The interior is an absolute masterpiece if a touch gaudy. It's a harmonious mix of 21st-century technology and old-world luxury charm. The burl walnut trim is tasteful and works nicely with the caramel leather.
We'd forgo the gold detailing dotted around the cockpit, though. There's a clear Rolls-Royce influence, especially in the steering wheel design. The rear quarters are equally as plush, with reclining captain's chairs separated by an armrest and control panel. Unlike the ESV which can seat up to eight occupants, the LS7 is all about sprawling out in comfort.
While Hongqi hasn't said how much this paragon of excess weighs, we're guessing it will match the ESV on the scales. Unfortunately, the powertrain lets the package down. The 4.0-liter V8 only manages to muster up 360 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. This is nowhere near enough for American consumers, but we're guessing buyers won't mind. After all, it should be perfectly adequate for chauffeuring duties in a gridlocked Chinese city. The top speed is pegged around 124 mph.
It's highly unlikely that Hongqi's newcomer will ever make it to the States but, if it did, it wouldn't find many buyers. Even if you can look past the miserable power output and overstyled front end, the price tag is positively laughable. In dollar terms, the cost translates into nearly $240,000 - more than a well-specced Bentley Bentayga. Then again, it's a veritable bargain when you compare it to a Cullinan.