Changing China

Giant on the move

The Audi A6, the cadre-mobile

January 30, 2008

Audi A6It will come as a surprise to no one who has travelled the streets of Beijing for any length of time that the most powerful cars in the 3,000-strong Olympic fleet for the Summer Games will be 692 Audi A6s.

If there is no specific Olympic livery, it would be a fair guess to think they will be black, too. 

Some of the world’s best and most expensive cars can now be seen on China’s streets, I saw a brand new Aston Martin DB7 in the grimy industrial city of Changchun last year and a yellow Lambourghini on Beijing’s main drag, Changan Jie, last week.

The black Audi A6, however, remains the car of choice for Chinese officialdom, the cadre.

Often with blacked out windows, the A6s can be witnessed barging their way through Beijing’s traffic jams or steaming up the hard shoulder with the throaty grunt of the horn warning the rest of the traffic to steer clear.

It’s a far cry from the “Flying Pigeon” bicycle of old.

Photo by Natalie Behring/Reuters   

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