When you’re the leader of a powerful nation, you’re not going to be driven around in some car you can buy off the lot of any old dealer. With so many threats out there, you’re going to need something that will protect you, and drive you around in style. Sure, safety may be the top priority, but looks matter just as much. We often associate the car someone drives with how successful they are, and if a leader drives something that doesn’t convey such feelings, they may be seen as weak and ineffective.
Whether you’re a president, a dictator, or a monarch, you need a car that’s going to get the job done, and then some. Here are the 10 coolest cars for some of the most powerful people on earth.
Starting in 2013, the president of South Korea has driven around in a modified Hyundai Equus. Believe it or not, this is the first Korean made car that has been used to chuffer South Korea’s head of state. Previous heads of state rode in Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs, but starting with the administration of Park Geun-hye, the government shifted to a domestic brand.
President Park was impeached and removed from office in 2017, but Equus has remained in the service of the country’s current leader, Moon Jae-in. It remains to be seen if President Moon will continue riding in the car. Now that Hyundai has spun off its luxury division into a separate entity, Genesis, the car will likely be replaced by something under that nameplate.
For his inauguration in 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron broke with tradition by becoming the first leader in the nation’s history to ride in an SUV. The car is manufactured by DS, a subsidiary of Peugeot, and is marketed as France’s answer to Rolls Royce. This ultra-high end car was only used for Macron’s inauguration parade, however, and has never been used since. It is currently on display at DS’ premier show room in Paris, though, should Macron win a second election, he may ride in it again.
Germen Chancellor Angela Merkel is not only one of the most powerful figures in the European Union, but one of the most powerful women on earth. Therefore, it makes sense that she would ride around in a car that conveys her no-nonsense personality. Merkel has been seen riding around in an Armored Audi A8, with the license plate 0-2, indicating that it’s the Chancellor’s car. The A8 is a slick looking ride, that blends style with professionalism that’s perfect for the German government only Audi can achieve.
Interestingly, Merkel chooses to switch between different car makes, so as not to appear like she’s favoring one brand over another. How considerate of you, Mrs. Merkel
While it looks like something out of the 1950s, the official limo of the leader of China’s Communist party was first unveiled in 2013. Hongqi, being the nation’s premier luxury car make, has earned a reputation for opulence and prestige. The brand is loved by the elite of Chinese society, and their cars are coveted by everyone in the country. At over $800k, the L5 has the distinction of being the most expensive Chinese car on the road today.
Chairmen Xi has been rolling’ in his L5 since becoming leader in 2013, and he shows no sign of giving it up. Details about the car are scarce, due to the Communist Party’s secrecy, but one can assume that it’s probably armed to the teeth with the latest tech and protective measures.
Developed by NAMI, the Aurus Senat resembles a Rolls Royce Phantom in both looks and features. Used by President Putin of Russia as his official state car, it replaces the Mercedes that originally shuttled him around.
The first of a line of luxury vehicles, the Senat will soon be joined by a fleet of other cars of similar standards. The fact that the most powerful figure in Russian society rides in a Senat will surely help the brand when it goes public. Though the public surely won’t get the same level of top-secret enhancements Putin is afforded.
Often called the popemobile, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church rides one of the most iconic cars in history. The current popemobile is a heavily modified Mercedes M Class, with its rear section removed and replaced by a elevated platform for the Pontiff to sit. The seat is surrounded by bulletproof glass, a feature that has become standard on all the Pope’s vehicles since the assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II in 1981.
While the M Class is the most visible of all the Pope’s vehicles, Mercedes isn’t the only marquis that is utilized by His Holiness. Jeep, Dodge, Hyundai and Fiat have all made their own version of the popemobile, and pope Benedict was even spotted in the back of a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon on a few occasions.
Of all the Pullmans that are used by world dignitaries, the one used by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un stands out among the rest. Due to sanctions placed against the totalitarian regime, companies like Mercedes-Benz are not allowed to trade with North Korea. This means that Kim must have had to jump through quite a few hoops to get his hands on a Pullman, though this isn’t the first time the regime managed to get its hands on some fine, German steel.
There’s a reason why the Pullman is one of most popular limos used by world leaders. Thanks to its unparalleled armor that offers protection from bombs and bullets, the car is often the first choice for security forces.
Presented to Her Majesty for her golden jubilee in 2002, the Bentley State Limousine is the Queen of England’s favorite mode of transport. A beautiful work of English craftsmanship, the car’s badges can be swapped out for various coats of arms depending on the occasion.
However, looks aren’t the only thing where the Queen’s ride excels. It is both blast proof and bomb proof, its tires are enhanced with Kevlar, and its doors create an airtight seal in case of a bio-terrorism attack. The doors can also be ejected off to allow passengers to escape during a roll over. Another defining characteristic is the car’s roof, which is raised so that the Queen can enter and exit without having to bend over.
Nicknamed ‘The Beast’ by the Secret Service, the Presidential State Car was introduced in 2009, and has been in service ever since. The Beast received a facelift in 2018, to reflect Cadillac’s latest design standards, but internally, the car is nearly identical to its predecessor. Both versions borrowed many of the design elements Cadillac’s sedans, and were built on the same frame used by the Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon.
In terms of security features, the Beast is at the top of its class. The car is clad on all sides by thick slabs of armor, windows that can stop high-powered rounds, and a reinforced underbelly that can protect it from grenades. The car’s tires can still be used even if they’re blown out, and wherever the President goes, he and his family are protected by a motorcade packing some serious firepower. And if the worst case scenario does happen, the car has a fridge filled with packs of the President and First Lady’s blood types, allowing the secret service to perform an emergency transfusion if they suffer bodily harm.
Produced exclusively for the Japanese royal family, the Toyota Century Royal represents the pinnacle of Toyota’s craftsmanship. While the standard Toyota Century is already a work of art in and of itself, the Royal edition takes everything one step beyond. In addition to the safety features one would expect from such a car, the Royal sports a number of extra features that just bleed opulence. With granite side steps, rice paper curtains, and premium wool upholstery, the Century Royal is the most luxurious Japanese sedan ever made. Four of them were produced by Toyota at the behest of the Imperial Family between 2006 and 2008, and the cars have changed little since then. This is keeping within the custom of the original Century, which has resisted change in favor of preserving the class and sophistication of older rides.