Palladium is without any doubt a unique and surprising automobile and, as in the intention of the manufacturer, is ready to fill a rather interesting and exclusive niche.
The designers have already described the car as “hyper-limousine” as it unites the traditional characteristics of great luxury sedans (such as comfort, quality of materials and manufacturing, ample space and reliability) with outstanding capabilities usually peculiar to other types of cars.
Designed and manufactured in Italy, Palladium wants to retrace the steps of famous Italian coachbuilders from the past when each vehicle was truly handmade with care and passion.
As a matter of fact each and every one of the ten cars on the production schedule will be tailor-made for the client after having chosen the customization of every detail.
“We have produced this vehicle choosing artisanal manufacturing techniques that are almost lost today, such as panel beating and hand-crafting the body of the car, together with other technological solutions – said Aznom’s founder Marcello Meregalli– engine builders, tanners, panel beaters, designers and engineers who have worked on this project are heirs to a tradition that has made Italian cars famous all around the world”.
The name of the vehicle itself points to majestic and classic esthetics, taking inspiration from the mansions of renowned Italian architect Andrea Palladio (famous for using ancient Greek and Roman styles as the base for his creations).
But this is not all, as the name Palladium also recalls the rare and lustrous metal by the same name.
Aznom Palladium is really something unique, starting from its dimensions (just shy of 2 meters in height and almost 6 meters in length) positioning it unquestionably within the limousine realm, while its non-conventional appearance confers a powerful image equal only to its mechanical strength.
Capable of traversing any terrain with two- or four-wheel drive, Palladium is equipped with a 5.7 liter biturbo engine capable of delivering more than 700 hp and a torque of 950 Nm.
“Passion for automobiles is almost a “genetic trait” for the Meregalli family …maybe there is something in the air here in Monza, I was born while cars were racing at the autodromo, but in any case since I was a child I could recognize my dad’s car among many others.”
These are the words of Marcello Meregalli, 43 years of age, a pure “monzese”, today at the helm of the family companies.
“I have never raced – continues Meregalli – the passion was there but being a racing driver would have required such dedication and would have been too time consuming. I like speed and I like being on track … if I could choose, I would participate in qualifying and then go home”.
It was a short leap from pure passion to entrepreneurial commitment and Marcello Meregalli was quickly involved in several activities revolving around cars.
His first effort, Aznom, was born in 2007 as a graphics support company for Meregalli’s other businesses. In Meregalli’s own words: “Friendship with Matteo Bertanelli (Aznom’s current Product Manager) developed because of the passion for cars and one day it became natural to think of a company servicing all those that are looking for interior customization, “bespoke” and “one off” vehicles as well as many other custom accessories, leather-made or hand-made with innovative materials. Then, little by little, we started thinking of building our own cars.”
While that idea was coming into fruition Aznom was busy with providing clients customizations for a wide array of vehicles: Land Rover Defender, Discovery, Mini, Fiat 500, working especially on the interiors and partly on the exterior of the cars providing special colors and paintjobs. It is also worth mentioning the endeavor that brought much more drastic changes to the Range Rover “SpiritoDivino”. The British SUV was radically customized to fit a series of refrigerators in the back powered by a large solar panel placed on the roof of the car.
Expanding the offerings of Gruppo Meregalli in the automotive sector, Monza Garage and Monzatech were created in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
But let’s talk more about Aznom and how Palladium came to be.
A very important car that literally paved the way for the Palladium was the Atulux created in 2018. A luxury sedan based on a RAM pick-up, the Atulux was not much different than the donor car in its exterior. Inside though, it was a totally different beast with high-end design tailor-made for the model and reclining seats “business class” style.
“In truth I’ve always been passionate about large automobiles – said Meregalli – like the huge American sedans manufactured from the thirties to the beginning of the seventies. Or the incredible Rolls-Royce and Bentleys of those periods. I’ve always been fascinated by big vehicles, I liked the super large hoods and the imposing stance of those cars. I thought about creating something similar for a long time and I even considered a “resto-mod” operation on a vintage Rolls-Royce. Then in 2008 Cadillac unveiled the new presidential limousine for President Barack Obama. This was not a “stretched” vehicle but it had been built with different proportions. Starting from a mega-SUV Cadillac had built a luxury sedan, big and imposing but with the proportions of a classic sedan.”
Was that the spark?
“I’d say so, yes. That particular Cadillac gave the final push to an idea I had had since before the Atulux, of a car completely manufactured by us both outside and inside.
I can say today that we pushed that idea even further, conceiving a vehicle that can take its owner wherever, to an elegant soiree as well as on a demanding off-road course. It is a true extra-luxurious limousine that is also able to trek the desert! This is why our Palladium is so unique.”
Why conceive a limousine that is also an off-road vehicle?
“To answer this question we have to look at our other professional experiences. Our main company has always dealt with wine and I spend many days visiting remote farms and vineyards. In those situations a 4x4 off-road vehicle is truly necessary. And how many times have I seen sedans stuck on the road to ski towns in the winter … the car that I had in mind had to be beautiful, luxurious, comfortable … but also unstoppable!”
In the end Palladium was born, a unique and exclusive car …
“Absolutely! I have spent many hours thinking at the people who pay tens of millions for a one-of-a-kind yacht, unique and different from all others … but in order to get to that yacht they drive a common sedan or a van, custom made with many bells and whistles … but it is still a van. Palladium was born with this in mind and wants to fill a really small niche that
has no reference point at the moment.
Atulux was the first step – continues Meregalli – we built one car and sold it really fast but the turning point was when we met designer Alessandro Camorali, who had very interesting ideas and showed us very interesting drawings. Camorali worked on the Serpas sports car, based on a Radical, and suggested an evolution of the Atulux. In time we started working closer together and by the end of 2017 the final idea started to take shape.
Finally in 2018, with the launch of a perfect vehicle for us to use as “foundation”, we made the final decision to start the project.”
Today we unveil the first Aznom Palladium. Are plans already set for the future?
“Our intention is to create 10 cars, a mini-series, but with an approach similar to that of a shipyard. Maniacal care of the details and extreme personalization and customizations chosen together with the final client … so you can understand how we can only manufacture a very limited number of vehicles. We are therefore in the process of establishing relationship with just a few special clients. We hope to stir interest in Europe also, but more realistically we are concentrating on markets such as the USA, Middle East, Russia and China.”
The evolution of style for the Aznom Palladium has been entrusted to Studio CAMAL, founded in 2008 in Torino by Alessandro Camorali, who has developed his expertise among important brands and historic Italian design studios.
The car clearly finds its place in the limousine segment, with a broad presence and powerful stance, “esthetic expression” of its mechanical strength.
The horizontal lines are broken only by a classic fender at the rear, while front and rear of the car are framed and treated like rough gems inside a continuous and harmonious shape with smooth constant surfaces.
The grille is enclosed in a rectangular perimeter that enhances the space through a new type of luxury, an interpretation in between modern and classical, while the hood is tilted towards the front, drawn as a sculpture and enriched by a touch coming from the past (the frieze that once was the distinction of every great limousine), embodiment of the spirit of Palladium.
The rear is imposing, sloping down from the roof with the harmonious style of a coupe’ to become more modern around the light, a single horizontal light source emphasizing the width from side to side. Above the rear bumper, enriched by sport diffuser and exhausts, we find the rear fascia framing and highlighting the car’s name.
A noble touch comes in the form of what has been called by designers “horizon window”, a slit in the rear pillar that contributes to the mysterious and suffused lighting on the inside of the car while allowing the occupants to enjoy a glimpse of the outside horizon.
The interiors have obviously been created with attention to the tiniest of details.
A large rear seat, not unlike a throne, gives ample comfortable space to the passengers while hidden drawers and compartments offer all sorts of amenities.
The front area is also coherent to the luxury: even the driver (or in some cases “chauffeur”)needs to be immersed in elegant refinement without compromising the ability to be in full control of the vehicle in any situation. The door panel and the dashboard follow the pattern of materials and colors used in the upholstery, bright and dark leather spaced out by wooden parts, everything enriched by solid aluminum details.
The latest generation central console and display give access to all the vehicle’s functions, in a clear and orderly way. The cockpit area has been designed with a focus on the driver and to emphasize the dashboard’s horizontal lines while Aznom’s backlit logo stands out from the instrument panel.
The seats, which have a custom pattern in the seat and back areas, boast a large headrest designed with the same philosophy as the rear recliner.
The base model of Palladium is completely covered with Foglizzo leather (ceiling included). Valuable materials and finishing touches elevate every corner of the car to quality levels rarely seen before, underscoring the choices made together with the clients and thanks to the best suppliers and the most talented craftsmen Italy has to offer.
In order to guarantee the best comfortable experience the air conditioning functions with two entirely separate and independent systems so that the back passengers can choose a completely different setting and temperature than at the front.
Another refined feature comes in the form of the touch display placed on the driver’s door panel allowing for the complete control of the interior lights, air conditioning, on-board refrigerator, the opening and closing of all drawers and compartments, the trunk and of course windows and doors.
The display on the other door controls the door locking, window, light and accessories concerning the respective side.
Adding to the amenities for the passengers at the back we also find the excellent Harman Kardon sound system and two Microsoft Surface X PRO.
A beautiful handmade clock, made of gold and palladium, is available in the lower central position at the rear. Designed by Aznom it incorporates the Palladium logo as the arms tastefully recall the exterior color of the car. The clock can be removed and become an elegant piece of home furniture.
Aznom is also providing owners of the Palladium with a full set of luggage pieces, manufactured with the same leather and stitching as the limousine’s interior. A notable piece is the umbrella, signed by Francesco Maglia, historic company manufacturing umbrellas in Milan since 1854.
UNDER THE HOOD…
Pushing the Palladium is a powerful V8 5.7 liter biturbo engine tuned by Monza Garage and capable of delivering 710 hp and 950 Nm of torque. Upon request of the client an eTorque mild-hybrid system can be installed and paired to the engine.
One of the highlights of the powertrain is that, under certain circumstances, it can function with 4 cylinders only (Fuel Saver mode) allowing for considerable savings in terms of fuel.
An important and exclusive element is the Electronic Water Pump (made by Monzatech) that through its sensors can manage the temperature of the engine and intercooler fluids with split second adjustments and by doing so maintains constant ideal conditions.
Pairing up with the engine is a latest generation 8-speed automatic transmission (excluding low range gears) guaranteeing seamless shifts.
When the engine is first started Palladium is a rear-wheel drive vehicle but the driver can easily switch to four-wheel drive through mode selection. The transmission utilizes an electronic automatic locking differential that automatically splits the torque between the forward and rear axles in order to maximize traction on each wheel. The system also allows the driver to lock or unlock the differential manually.
Most of the car’s main body is made of high resistance steel with only certain details made of aluminum in order to reduce weight without compromising strength, stability and protection from impacts. Hood and roof are carbon fiber while both forward and rear bumpers are made of composite materials. On the rear section of the chassis’ frame the engineers have built a steel cage that helps improve torsional stiffness.
The powerful braking system features 408 x 34 mm ventilated discs with 6 piston Brembo GT calipers at the front. The rear brakes feature smaller discs, 380 x 28 mm with 4 piston calipers. The parking brake is electronic.
The wheels made from solid aluminum follow an original design by Aznom and are quite large (22 inches) as are the Yokohama Advan Sport 285/45ZR22 tires.
The independent front suspensions feature aluminum upper and lower arms while the stabilizer bar has been fitted behind the wheel axis to reduce the car’s body roll. The rear suspension has in contrast five arms in order to better clear obstacles on the road.
It goes without saying that the main designers’ objective, considering the large dimensions of the car, was to combine responsiveness and maneuverability without ever compromising comfort; as a matter of fact 4 setup configurations are provided with different ground clearance for each.
The implementation of FRD(Frequency Response Damping) shock absorbers also plays a critical role, reacting in a split second by opening or closing the valves according to the situation.
Suspension and shock absorbers working together deliver surprising off-road performance for Palladium, worthy of some of the most respectable off-road vehicles.
The rack and pinion steering features an interesting solution with an electric motor as its power source. Hence Palladium’s engine is relieved from constantly operating the hydraulic pump, an efficient system that gives the car a little bit more power overall.
Palladium features six airbags and the most recent Advanced driver-assistance Systems (ADAS) and both active and passive safety systems including the Advance Brake Assist, Hill Descent Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind-stop Monitoring and Park Assist.
Several cameras combine for a 360 view and a series of sensors contribute to keeping what is around under constant control favoring relaxed and stress free driving conditions even in critical situations.
“With Palladium we have tried to bring together our entire experience of fifteen years in order to create a really unique vehicle. – said Matteo Bertanelli, Project Manager Palladium –To work on the body we have paired handmade techniques to innovative technologies. We have used panel beating, an artisanal method that comes directly from historic coachbuilders, when men would beat the body panels by hand directly on wooden molds … but also hi-tech solutions like precision molding and working with carbon fiber.”
Manufacturing a complex vehicle such as the Aznom Palladium would not be possible without collaborating with prestigious partners.
As previously mentioned Brembo supplied the powerful discs and calipers for the braking system and the car mounts Yokohama tires.
The high-quality sound system is made by Harman Kardon as two Microsoft Surface X PRO function as displays for the rear passengers.
All the leather on the inside of the car (including the ceiling) is supplied by Foglizzo.