The Lagonda loses the Aston’s chunky centre console, although there’s still a substantial bump over the transmission tunnel, and now also a proper view out of the windows. Pretty much all of that wheelbase stretch has gone into extra leg room. The rear seats are comfortable but don’t recline, and the Taraf feels short of toys when compared to its obvious rivals.
The Lagonda still sits on steel springs with switchable dampers charged with combining both comfort and response, which is a notable contrast to the pillowy air suspension of all its obvious rivals.
The engine has a quiet start function, purring into life without the exuberant blip Astons deliver when they first fire up. The throttle has also been retuned to deliver a far more leisurely initial response, with the Taraf pulling away cleanly and trundling along happily at a gentle motorcade speed.
But the fundamental Aston character isn’t buried particularly deeply. As always, the V12 engine gives its best when worked hard, pulling with increasing vigour and a gorgeous yowling soundtrack at higher revs.
The gearbox also seems to be happier in its manual mode than when left in drive, with changes ordered by the shift paddles delivered quickly and cleanly.
The hydraulically assisted steering feels light but increased chassis loadings deliver proper feedback, and the Lagonda feels far smaller on the road than its dimensions suggest it should.
It’s soon being hustled along at speeds that would produce some complaints from any rear-seat passengers, with the Taraf showing every sign of enjoying this unlikely back road workout, especially with chassis and throttle pedal firmed up in Sport mode.
What’s lacking is much in the way of waft. There’s noticeably more road and wind noise than you would find in its obvious rivals, and although the springs and dampers do a good job of dealing with rougher surfaces at speed – and the longer wheelbase definitely helps to smooth things out compared to the Rapide – the Taraf doesn’t deliver the magic carpet experience that normally comes as standard in this segment.
It still feels like a sportscar at heart, but one that’s doing a decent impression of a limousine. Which, to be fair, it pretty much is.
This is a car that makes a Rolls-Royce Phantom or Bentley Mulsanne look positively mass-produced, and that will be the core of its appeal of the super-affluent who want exclusivity above anything else.
This is a fascinating bit of toe-dipping and potentially the start of something far bigger. Here’s to that future.
Aston Martin Lagonda Taraf
Price £685,000; Engine V12, 5935cc, petrol; Power 540bhp at 6650rpm; Torque 465lb ft at 5500rpm; 0-62mph 4.4sec; Top speed 195mph-plus; Gearbox 8-spd torque converter automatic; Kerb weight 1995kg; Economy 21mpg (combined, est); CO2 300g/km, 37% (est)