Aston boss Ulrich Bez has confirmed the rebirth of the Lagonda brand, saying it was “go” and that it “will not stand on one leg”, suggesting a range of new models.
The company is seeking financial backing for the project and an automotive partner to provide platform and drivetrain technologies. “Daimler spent around a billion relaunching the Maybach brand,” said Bez. “But we can do Lagonda for a small fraction of that cost.”
The controversial Lagonda SUV concept shown at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show was based on a Mercedes GL and Bez admitted that a Mercedes tie-up remained “a good concept”. This could become more appealing to both parties if the proposed deal for Aston Martin to develop and build future Maybach models goes ahead.
Future Lagondas will be four-wheel-drive SUVs and target emerging markets, especially Russia and China. “Aston Martin is present in 35 countries but there are limits to where you can drive a sports car,” said Janette Green, Aston’s director of brand communications. “In Russia, for example, you need a car that can cope with difficult roads and harsh winters.” To enhance their appeal in these markets, Lagonda will offer armoured versions of its models.
According to Bez, the range will span £100-300k. This would help Lagonda establish a new market for super-luxury SUVs. Bentley has plans for a crossover SUV but there are no other obvious rivals.
Bez and chief designer Marek Reichman have not been deterred by the negative reaction to the Geneva show car. “That was a reaction car,” said Reichmann. “It was about provoking debate and gauging whether people were willing to accept Lagonda as a brand. People didn’t say Lagonda shouldn’t exist, they just said that a Lagonda shouldn’t look like that. Our research shows that 60 per cent of people thought Lagonda was a viable brand.”
Although the company is registered as Aston Martin Lagonda Limited, the two brands will be distinct. The SUVs will be badged ‘Lagonda’, not ‘Aston Martin Lagonda’. Nor will there be an Aston Martin version of a Lagonda model.
Reichmann, who admits to having worked through several different design studies for a new Lagonda, cites a key philosophical difference between the two brands. “A Lagonda has four doors and four seats and is about the journey. That is why it must have four-wheel drive and cope with tough terrain. An Aston Martin is about the drive.”
CEO Bez also confirmed that there will be an electric version of the Cygnet, based on the forthcoming Toyota iQ EV. This will debut in 2012.