Aston Martin Lagonda boss Ulrich Bez mentioned the Lagonda Concept had all-wheel drive, but remained coy about a lot of other detail. But Reichman confirms the Concept is in fact built on a Mercedes-Benz GL SUV platform. This vehicle is the first fruit of a recently announced tie-up between tiny, now independently owned Aston, and Daimler AG.
But why a luxury car concept based on SUV underpinnings? That’s the “method” part. The highly competent, refined and sophisticated GL platform gives the Lagonda Concept a wide choice of powertrains, ranging from frugal diesel V-6 to thundering AMG V-8, and, soon, Daimler’s version of the two-mode hybrid. More importantly, though, it gives the Lagonda Concept genuine rough road capability.
Aston Martin Lagonda Concept AMG V-8
The Lagonda Concept, Reichman is quick to insist, is not an upscale SUV. "It is a luxury car that is capable on rough roads." And that makes perfect sense when he lists the key markets the car is aimed at: Russia, China, India, the Middle East, South America; all regions with vastly underdeveloped or poorly maintained road infrastructures and a fast-growing appetite for ultra-luxury cars, recession notwithstanding.
A strict four seater – though the rear seats do fold flat – the Lagonda Concept’s interior features a spilt personality not a million miles from that of our own Ford Flex SEMA concept. Up front, it’s dark, sporty and driver-oriented, with a leather trimmed floor. At the rear, though, it’s lighter, and more luxurious looking, with special silk carpet on the floor. "The rear compartment feels like a first class jet," Reichman says, noting that a significant number of luxury car owners in China and India prefer to be chauffeur-driven.
"The Lagonda is the luxury car of the future," says Ulrich Bez. So how close is the concept to the real deal? "It’s a test," Reichman admits. "We are launching the Lagonda brand with a concept. But typically we have not done concepts that we have not put into production."
During its ownership of Aston Martin Lagonda, Ford toyed with resurrecting the storied Lagonda brand (the original company was founded in 1899), which had died and been resuscitated a couple of times before. Moray Callum (brother of Jaguar designer Ian) designed a large, swoopy, retro-style four door sedan with a truly fabulous interior while working at Ghia in 1993. Called the Lagonda Vignale, it was built on a Lincoln Town Car chassis.
Ford sources whispered the production version would have an aluminum space frame chassis, independent suspension all round, and 6.0-liter V-12 that was basically an expanded Duratec engine. The V-12 turned up – ironically, it later powered Ian Callum’s gorgeous Aston Martin Vanquish – but the car was, like numerous promising Aston, Jaguar and Land Rover concepts of the 90s, quietly shelved by the Ford brass.
This Lagonda Concept is far more likely to make production.