Take three on reviving Aston Martin's high-end luxury brand
Aston Martin has used the Geneva motor show to relaunch Lagonda as a pure-electric luxury brand for eco-minded members of the Jetset.
The brand's styling direction is previewed with the 'Vision Concept' pictured here, designed to deliver "an entirely new approach to luxury".
"The electrification revolution means there is no longer any need for horse and carriage design, and our new concept shows the scope of design opportunities that open up once you no longer need to provide space for a large power source directly in front of the passenger compartment."
That means the car is significantly shorter and lower than traditional full-sized sedans or limousines, with increased interior space afforded by the lack of an internal combustion engine. Lagonda – or should that be Aston Martin – says each of the four seats inside can comfortably house a two-metre-tall passenger.
There's even room to stretch out in luxurious comfort, apparently. Sounds comfortable.
With no engine, there's no need for a conventional bonnet. That has allowed Aston Martin to deliver a car with unique proportions: the Vision concept has a low, snubby nose and a long, sloping windscreen up front. The body, meanwhile, sports a more elegant take on the teardrop shape common in hybrids like the Toyota Prius.
Because it has a low floor and practical roofline, passengers can stand up and walk around the cabin. We're not sure if those are the same two-metre passengers mentioned earlier, by the way. The front seats are mounted on a special cantilever to create more rear legroom, and the seats themselves have generous armrests because "given the choice, people always use arms to lower and raise themselves from chairs".
British furniture designer, David Linley, and tailors from Savile Row were consulted for the interior design, helping nail down its combination of silk carpets, hand-woven wool upholstery, carbon-fibre and ceramic tiles. Those tiles hide ventilation hardware, volume controls and an infotainment system.
The doors are hinged a long way back on the body, thanks to the strength of the skateboard chassis housing the batteries. Part of the roof opens with the doors (we're thinking of the Ford GT40) to make entry and exit easier, although that should also look pretty cool.
Although it's loaded with all the hardware required for autonomy, there is a steering wheel in the Vision Concept. It slides from side-to-side depending on where in the world you're driving, or retracts if the driver would prefer to be a passenger.
"For owners of true luxury cars, autonomy has existed for over a century, in a carbon-based form called a chauffeur," said Andy Palmer, Aston Martin CEO.
"We imagine most Lagonda customers will choose to be driven, but whether by a person or a computer will be up to them. And if they want to drive themselves, the car will ensure that is a delightful and memorable experience too. Lagonda will provide that choice."
Speaking about driving, power in the car comes from a solid-state battery good for 400mi (644km) between charges. As you'd expect from an ultra-luxe brand, Lagonda has put that into the context of famous global road trips: Los Angeles to San Fransisco, or Berlin to Vienna are all achievable with that much charge.
There's a sophisticated torque-vectoring system on board, shuffling grunt from wheel-to-wheel as required if you're more into track-day blasting as well. Of course, all of this is theoretical at the moment. Lagonda is planning to start production in 2021, and the technology on board this concept – solid-state batteries, most notably – isn't necessarily available at the moment, but likely will be in three years.
"We see no limits for Lagonda,’ says Andy Palmer. "It will be a brand for the restless, for those who are anything but happy with the status quo.
"It will produce cars that exploit technology, without being obsessed with it for its own sake. And It will enable Lagonda to redefine the concept of luxury within the automotive and other spheres."
"The car has been the greatest liberating force humankind has invented, and at the time the journey was as important as the destination. All that has been lost over the last 100 years.
"Wherever you are in a Lagonda, whatever the journey and whichever seat you occupy, it will re-introduce you to the wonder of travel."
Believe the hype or not, the brand sure looks interesting.