Aston Martin relaunches 100-year-old brand with Merc GL-based concept

This upmarket four-wheel-drive crossover concept is Aston Martin's vision of how it will bring back the 100-year-old Lagonda brand - and it should become a production reality.

Aston boss Ulrich Bez took the covers off the five metre-long Lagonda concept this morning at Geneva’s Palexpo centre. And if the bluff-nosed crossover looks nothing like a Rapide or a DB9, it is precisely because it wears a Lagonda badge on its nose – not the symmetrical spread wings of an Aston Martin.

“Lagonda will be a brand in its own right, of equal standing and status as Aston Martin, but with a totally different and independent identity,” Bez told Autocar. “So this Lagonda concept is founding a whole new design language for us, and showing how the Lagonda brand can exist in a space in the market that is entirely its own, and still compliment the Aston Martin brand.”

The return of the Lagonda brand has been on the cards, Bez says, since 2000. “We need to grow the company and to put it on a more secure footing for the future by accessing global markets that simply aren’t open to sports car makers,” he told us. “That means making cars for countries like Russia, China, some in South America and some in the Middle East, where the road infrastructure is poorer than it is in Europe, but where there is still great demand for luxurious, desirable, beautiful and exclusive cars.”

Like the V12-engined Geneva show car, Bez suggests that most if not all future Lagondas will have a raised ride height and all-wheel drive. He stops short of labelling it an SUV brand, although many others will call it that.

"Lagondas will not be about utility necessarily, or practicality," said Bez. "They will not be rugged go-anywhere machines, although they will have greater ride height, usability and versatility than Aston Martins. What will unite them is original, avante-garde design; comfort, refinement and luxuriousness for passengers; and peerless exclusivity and desirability.”

“We could never have convinced our previous owners to allow us to relaunch the Lagonda brand like this,” an excited Bez added. “There would have been too many complications and obstacles connected with Ford’s other PAG brands. Now that Ford is out of the picture, though, we are free to express our new vision for Lagonda.”

It’s a vision that Aston clearly won’t be able to realise on its own, however. You wouldn’t know to look at it, but underneath the Lagonda concept’s bulging panels are the mechanicals of a Mercedes GL. Merc gave Aston Martin permission to use the GL’s platform, and it is in negotiations with Gaydon about a future tie-up that could see production Lagondas built on Mercedes underpinnings.

The deal isn’t done yet though. And if one thing is for sure, it’s that Aston’s extruded aluminium VH platform won’t fit the bill; "It just won’t work for cars like this,” said Bez.

The Lagonda brand will allow Aston to offer new powertrains that wouldn’t be suitable for an Aston Martin, though. “The concept has our petrol V12, but we’re thinking about both petrol-electric hybrid and diesel powertrains too,” said Bez.

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8 April 2013

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