Aston Martin redefines "Lagonda" around the electrified, autonomous future
It's no secret that Aston Martin (along with virtually every other automaker on the planet) is working on its first electric car. At the Geneva Motor Show, it's revealed that it plans an entire spinoff brand for electric luxury. And the Lagonda line-up won't just be filled with battery-powered Rapides and DB11s, instead launching forward with its own ground-up design language. Based on the Lagonda Vision Concept wowing crowds at the show, electrified Lagonda models will sport radical looks and luxuries quite unlike Astons or Lagondas of present or past.
It's easy to think of Aston Martin solely as a high-performance sports car brand, but it wasn't that long ago that the boys in Gaydon were also building a $1 million sedan, the Lagonda Taraf. In fact, Aston Martin revived the Lagonda name in 2008 specifically to develop luxury cars quite distinct from its bread-and-butter of fast, sleek sports cars.
Now Aston is spinning Lagonda off into a more official sub-brand, one which will push automotive luxury into the future - not in a simple, linear way, but in a way that will challenge and upend conventions of design, introducing a more modern interpretation befitting of the fast-evolving automotive technology underpinning each car. The Lagonda Vision provides a first teaser of what's to come beginning around 2021.
"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," explains Aston's chief creative officer Marek Reichman. "The batteries occupy the floor of the car. Everything above that line belongs to us."
Reichman and his team have taken full ownership, bending, molding and massaging the proportions above the battery floor into something distinctly different but still distinctly Aston Martin. With the decentralized electric powertrain eliminating the need for a hood and autonomy eliminating the need for a clear picture out of an upright windshield, the design team has sculpted a front-end that rises seamlessly into the A pillars and roofline, extending ever so slightly out from the front wheels.
While the front overhang is quite short, Aston designers have pulled the rear-end out well past the wheels, creating a bit of an unbalanced profile. We like how the fender muscles and character lines shoot sharply back toward that tightly creased rear, but for something so sharp and compact up front, it feels a little drawn out toward the back. But we suppose the extra stretch of the roofline and rear are necessary in creating the ultra-roomy lounge inside. All in all, it's a successfully striking and thoughtful design – brand new, but vaguely familiar at the same time.
The exterior's smooth flow is interrupted only by the opening of the gaping entryways, a function of not only front and rear doors but of upswinging roof panels over the rear passenger compartment. The rear passengers can actually stand and walk in and out of the car, rather than endure that oh-so-undignified sliding that the rest of us plebes have become dutifully accepting of.
The interior is where Aston has really opened up the playbook, calling in the help of tailors and craftsmen to create something both fresh and appropriately upscale. Upon their suggestion, Aston dispensed with the usual leather, a luxury car cliche if ever we saw one, and opted for unexpected but elegant materials of both the ultra-modern (carbon fiber, ceramics) and timelessly traditional (silk, cashmere) varieties.
In place of the usual mounting structure, the front seats are set on cantilevered arms that free up foot space for the rear passengers and cut unnecessary clutter. The seats are designed more like proper living room furniture, integrating thick seat cushions and armrests. One of the seats even has the appearance of a comfy chaise lounge.
The Lagonda Vision is a Level 4 autonomous concept, capable of taking over all driving responsibilities and leaving driver as passenger. The steering wheel can slide from left- to right-hand driving positions and retract completely, and the front seats can rotate 180 degrees into a social vis-a-vis. The car's advanced connectivity suite will support more than just autonomous driving, promising "unprecedented access to bespoke concierge services and a level of connectivity and cyber-security few enjoy in their own homes." Sounds ... very unspecific.
Speaking of unspecific, of the powertrain, Aston says only that it's all-wheel drive and relies on solid state batteries for roughly 400 miles (644 km) of range, putting the dash between LA and San Francisco within the reach of a single charge. Wireless induction will take care of topping the battery off on the other end of the journey.
Lagonda production will begin in 2021, so we expect the details to fill in during the years leading up to that time. In the meantime, wrap your eyes around the Lagonda Vision in the photo gallery and video clip below.
Source: Aston Martin