Ram-based 4x4 "hyper limousine" breaks barriers (and mirrors)
Take a Rolls-Royce-like sedan, drop it on a pickup truck chassis, add in a VIP-style rear passenger compartment with limousine levels of luxury, and pretend your clients are going to actually want to off-road the thing. You end up with ... something of a mess – also, the Aznom Palladium. Business up front, champagne party in back and off-road safari down below, the coachbuilt Palladium tries to make fertile ground from the rough, arid patch of earth between pickup truck, super-SUV, ultra-luxury sedan, limousine and hand-hammered coach.
As much of a quizzical oddity as it is, the Palladium isn't a vehicle without precedent. Aznom Automotive might be unknown to average auto observers, but the Italian marque has been in the business of creating bespoke interiors for a range of automobiles for over a decade. It's a line of work that eventually brought about the idea of creating a luxurious pickup-truck-turned-sedan.
In 2018, around the same time Karlmann King was busy violating the Ford F550 in ways that should never be forgiven, Aznom was hard at work Frankensteining together the Palladium's predecessor, the Atulux (that's All Terrain Utility Luxury to you). Most of its work happened inside the Ram pickup, where it slathered on plush trim, wired up dual TVs with an Xbox gaming system, concealed a pop-up coffeemaker, and carved a mini glassware cabinet into the center console. But in order to create that spacious limousine-style rear passenger compartment, it had to rejigger the bodywork by pushing the C pillars back and skinning over the pickup bed to make a three-box sedan.
At some point not soon enough to guarantee the Atulux never saw the light of day, Aznom must have pondered why anyone would spend US$300,000 on a fancy car interior holed up inside a positively hideous hacked pickup-sedan. With no possible answer to be found, it made the decision to extend its portfolio to coachbuilding, with an eye toward threading together an Italian suit fancy enough to all but erase the workaday pickup below.
Aznom already had the perfect partner for its new project. Camal Studio had worked with it on a previous project, and it also counted its very own "hyperSUV" among its design achievements. With visions of the 2009 Cadillac US presidential "Beast" limousine dancing around their heads, Aznom and Camal proceeded brazenly in crafting a chunky, high-riding, all-terrain ultra-luxury town car.
We wouldn't call the effort a raging success, but it's certainly a step forward from the Atulux as far as premium-grade Ram 1500 sedans that didn't need to happen go. The combination of pickup truck ground clearance, strong vertical and horizontal lines, and sharply drawn muscular rear fenders give it the powerful profile evoked by the term 4x4 "hyper-limousine".
On the other hand, the general awkwardness of the body proportions – for instance, that fastback-like roofline ending in a mess of a vertical rear fascia that slides out like a drawer – constantly reminds that this is a roughly thrown together sedan body atop a pickup truck. And those dimensions convince us even more than the vehicle description itself that the whole project was an idea better left as dust upon the eraser of Aznom's brainstorming chalkboard.
Aznom's wheelhouse is interior customizing, though, and the Palladium's inside is certainly more attractive than its outside. Aznom takes nice advantage of the extra legroom left by converting pickup bed into rear passenger compartment but unfortunately places it in front of a weird bucket love seat instead of the individual seats or recliners that would have been the more obvious and better choice. Aznom imagines it a "throne," but with a split seat back and dual headrests, it's clearly meant for two, not one.
The rear passengers don't get a proper set of individual seats, but each one does get his or her own Microsoft Surface X Pro tablet for entertainment. Harman Kardon brings the audio, and there's also mention of an onboard refrigerator.
The slide-out mini-bar in the rear console is a nice touch, as is the removable bespoke clock made from gold and actual palladium, but who knows how well they'll hold up once the Palladium tries to make good on its promise of actual all-terrain driving. The new Ram 1500 is known for a smooth ride among pickups, but we're not entirely sure it's "sipping Scotch in a mid-six-figure ultra-premium sedan" smooth, which might lead Aznom to the realization that, along with requiring a ground-up body design to match its high-end interior, creating an ultra-premium off-road hyper-limo also requires engineering a chassis around that particular task.
There's no doubting the Palladium's raw power though. Aznom's Monza Garage bolts a pair of turbochargers to the Ram's 5.7-liter Hemi V8, pushing available output up to 710 hp and 701 lb-ft (950 Nm) of torque, to be managed with the help of an eight-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is available for the driver to engage whenever necessary.
Aznom hasn't announced pricing, but it will only matter for the two handfuls of customers who snap up the 10 limited edition build slots. Aznom describes its targeted buyer as the type who tires of driving a "common sedan or van" to the marina before pushing off in an eight-plus-figure customized yacht, so it almost goes without saying that each Palladium will be customized to the buyer's every want and need.