Rolls-Royce killer? Meet the Aston Martin Lagonda Vision Concept
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Aston Martin has unveiled its radical new Lagonda luxury limousine that it hopes will send an electric shock to British rivals Rolls-Royce and Bentley,
The iconic British car maker is reviving the dormant Lagonda marque to turn it into the world’s first super-luxury zero-emissions electric vehicle brand offering customers ‘guilt-free luxury’ – but with an expected price tag above £300,000 (NZ$572,000).
Aston Martin chief executive Dr Andy Palmer said the Lagondas would be able to cover 640 kilometers between charges – enough to get from London to Edinburgh, Los Angeles to San Francisco or Berlin to Vienna without stopping for a battery charge.
Two Lagonda versions are planned.
Dr Palmer said the four-seater Lagonda Vision Concept limousine shown in Geneva is a near future version of a production model planned for 2021, with a second model joining it by 2023.
As a clue, the firm also showed two 40 per cent scale models of potential coupe and SUV derivatives.
With a luxurious interior and armchair-style seats, it echoes of a smart lounge more than a car cabin.
Even though most owners will be driven by a human chauffeur, in anticipation of self-driving autonomous car technology, the front two seas can swivel around 180-degrees for face-to-face conversations with rear passengers.
The steering wheel can also retract while high levels of cyber-security will protect owners from hackers, says the brand.
Dr Palmer said he wanted to disrupt the cosy super-luxury market currently dominated by Rolls-Royce – which is soon to launch its own new 4X4 called Cullinan – and Bentley.
The absence of a conventional petrol engine in the Lagonda means more space. He said the Lagonda offers the interior space of a Rolls-Royce Phantom in a car the size of a smaller Rolls-Royce Ghost, noting: ’If Rolls-Royce is a Boeing 777, then Lagonda will be Concorde. It doesn’t need a big grille.’
The re-birth of Lagonda marks a remarkable revival for a once pioneering luxury car brand founded 114 years ago by anglo-american engineer Wilbur Gunn in a greenhouse in Staines, Middlesex, but which has languished half-forgotten for two decades.
Because the sleek new Lagonda has no conventional engine, does not need a bonnet or grille, and has a flat floor, it can be far shorter and lower than traditional limousines – yet still has room inside for four 6ft6 adults to stretch out in luxurious comfort.
It allowed Aston Martin chief designer Marek Reichman to create a radical aerodynamic wedge shaped vehicle that's almost five and a half metres long - just 27cm shorter than the latest Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Reichman said: ‘It offers its customers a thoroughly modern, emission-free form of super-luxurious mobility.’
The design echoes the revolutionary shape of an earlier Lagonda, designed by William Towns, of which 645 were built between 1976 and 1989.
Curiously, it also bears a passing resemblance to the Pink Panther’s Panthermobile, which appeared at the start of the cartoon character’s TV series in the 1970s.
The Lagonda is expected to have a top speed restricted to 250km/h but lightning fast acceleration of 0-100km/h in under four seconds when required.
There are plans for induction charging, so the owner – or his or her chauffeur – does not have to plug the car in, but simply drives it over an induction plate, from which the car draws the power through the ether, as happens with many mobile phones.
The new Lagondas will be built at Aston Martin’s new factory at St Athan as part of the firm’s ambitious plans to boost total production from just over 5,000 to 14,000 vehicles a year within four years.
Half of these will be sports cars built at its boutique factory in Gaydon, the other half split between an Aston Martin DBX SUV and around 2,000 Lagonda luxury limousines built at the firm’s new factory at St Athan in Wales which opens next year.
The interior was created in conjunction with English furniture designer David Linley who blended ultra modern materials like carbon fibre and ceramics with cashmeres and silks to create a cabin that 'surprises, shocks and fascinates', including silk carpets, hand woven wool upholstery, carbon fibre trim and functional ceramic tiles that open and close to alter the ventilation and adjust the volume of the music.
The rear hinged back doors don’t just open outwards, but a section of the roof also opens upwards to allow easier access to and exit from the car.
Design chief Reichman said: ’Occupants can literally stand up inside and walk out of the car, or step straight into it.’
It makes it the perfect car for red-carpet appearances to save any celebrity the blushes of revealing photos snapped on arrival to premiers, award ceremonies and flashy events.
Dr Palmer said: ‘We see no limits for Lagonda. It will be a brand for the restless, for those who are anything but happy with the status quo. It will produce cars that exploit technology, without being obsessed with it for its own sake.’
He added: ‘If Wilbur Gunn were alive today he would be amazed by the possibilities that advances in technology has opened up which were scarcely imaginable, even a decade ago.
‘That’s why we are reintroducing the Lagonda marque, to revive that restless, creative spirit that was always asking, why not? Only instead of Gunn’s greenhouse, we’re using the machines and minds of one of the world’s most creative automotive businesses.‘
- Daily Mail
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