Shaped by ex-Volkswagen design head Walter de Silva, set to be manufactured in Emilia-Romagna and backed by First Automotive Works, the Hongqi S9 is a Chinese hypercar with global ambitions. To that end, Silk-FAW — the joint venture between the Chinese automaker and Italian startup Silk EV — has picked up some notable leadership as it forges ahead with the project.
Former Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa will act as a special advisor to Silk-FAW’s executive chairman, the company announced in a press release last week. Amedeo spent 26 years with Ferrari before leading the Italian marque between 2008 and 2016. His focus will be setting a “global strategy” for the collaboration, which will be vital to Hongqi’s expansion beyond China. The brand has a historic domestic reputation, having built limousines for heads of state, but is virtually unknown in other parts of the world.
In fact, the vehicles that Silk-FAW builds for Hongqi — to be dubbed the ‘S’ series, like this S9 — will be designed with export markets in mind. De Silva is responsible for penning not only the hypercar seen here, but also the rest of the S lineup.
The S9 actually went through a bit of a glow up between its initial reveal, back in 2019, and its most recent showing at the Shanghai Auto Show last month. De Silva didn’t contribute to that original concept, but his influence can be seen in the production model.
The new look is certainly less distinctive than the original, though perhaps FAW decided it needed something a bit more traditional for Hongqi’s first global product. The headlights set in NACA ducts is a neat look evocative of the Aston Martin Vision Gran Turismo concept from some years back, and the side profile is very clean and elegant, if not radical. Dare I say the back looks particularly uninspired, though?
Considering the S9 touts 1,400 horsepower and is being developed partly by an EV startup, it’d be fair to assume this car derives all its power from electric motors. As it turns out, the S9 is actually a plug-in hybrid with a turbocharged V8 behind the driver. Silk-FAW is quoting a 0-60 mph time of just 1.9 seconds, and plans to build just 99 examples.