Marussia B1 is Russia's answer to Porsche and Ferrari

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Marussia B1 is Russia's answer to Porsche and Ferrari
Highlights
  • Russia is not a country known for producing sleek, fast and expensive sports cars. But one Russian car maker is trying to change that by producing a rival to Porsche and Ferrari.
Russia is not a country known for producing sleek, fast and expensive sports cars.  But one Russian car maker is trying to change that by producing a rival to Porsche and Ferrari.

The charcoal grey car driving down through Moscow stands out from all the other vehicles on the road, drawing stares from curious and admiring passers-by.

With its angular styling, sleek lines and alloy wheels, the Marussia B1 may resemble a Lamborghini Gallardo or Ferrari 430, but it is actually made in Russia. A Marussia showroom opened in central Moscow on September 10 and on the same day Muscovites got to glimpse several of the supercars on the city's streets.

In a country where there is no tradition of building sport cars, Russians usually stop and take pictures of the Marussia when it is parked in the street. Russians feel proud when they learn of the car's pedigree, and hope Marussia will make an impact on the Russian car industry.

Until now Russian cars have not been known for their quality, reliability or performance.

"I would be interested to find out what's the quality of the car on the inside and how it is driving, because until now our Russian cars do not inspire confidence," says Vladimir, a 22-year-old who happened to see the car outside the showroom.

"Maybe it's an evolution of our car industry, that's what we hope for."

The recently opened showroom, which is half a mile (0.8 kilometre) from Red Square, has a red Marussia B2 on display to the public.

No one has yet bought the supercar, which sells for 117,000 euros (US$153,000), but Russian motoring enthusiasts hope the Marussia is the sign of a new start for the country's car industry.

The designers say the Marussia has the performance to match more well known supercars.

The company's most powerful model turns out 420 horsepower that can take it from 0 to a 100 kilometres (62 miles) an hour in 3.2 seconds.

According to Marussia Motors' CEO Nikolai Fomenko, 80 percent of the car is designed and built in Russia.

A few parts such as the disk brakes come from abroad and the engine is built in collaboration with the British motor manufacturer Cosworth.

Fomenko says that because Russian drivers are suspicious that the local car industry is incapable of building a decent car, Marussia Motors hopes to gain recognition among Western customers before marketing the cars in Russia itself.

He says 700 customers in Western Europe, mainly in Germany and England, have already reserved cars.

Fomenko, who is also a well-known musician, comic actor and race car driver, is optimistic about production levels and hopes to turn out 10,000 cars a year by 2014.

By that time, Marussia Motors also aims to produce sport-utility vehicles.

But Russian car experts do not share Fomenko's optimism.

Alexandre Pikulyenko, a Russian car journalist, thinks that in terms of quality and finish, Marussia's cars are not up to the level of other supercars.

"What I saw is that it is not driving very well and is difficult to control. That's why you cannot call it a supercar," says Pikulyenko who blames lack on technical training on the low standards in the Russian car industry.

"Unfortunately in our country no school is teaching how to build a supercar."
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