Aston Martin reveals its Lagonda Vision concept

Lagonda’s huge, plush, fully electric super saloon concept is here

When is an Aston Martin not an Aston Martin? When it’s a Lagonda. And especially when it’s… this. The Vision Concept.

The nameplate actually pre-dates Aston Martin: an Anglo-American former opera singer called Wilbur Gunn founded the company in 1909, named it after the river near his Ohio home-town, and created a number of stoic looking saloons and convertibles before the company was acquired post-war by David Brown. He’d also just bought Aston Martin (you’ll recognise the initials), and they merged.

Progress was patchy thereafter. Aston’s current vice president Simon Sproule, a former Nissan VP who had a spell as a lieutenant to rocketeer and sometime electric car sage Elon Musk, thus refers to Lagonda as ‘a 110-year old start-up’. Cute. TG has been granted exclusive access to the AML design studio for a preview, many months before its Geneva show big splash, and even lurking under a cover this is clearly no ordinary car.

Forget 2009’s lumpen SUV concept and wrap your eyes – and brain – round the Lagonda ‘Vision Concept’, an epic fully electric super-limo that aims to make the Rolls Phantom look as lavishly appointed as a knackered airport rental. Lagonda has aspirations to being the world’s first zero emissions luxury brand, to ‘confound’, and to align some ye olde luxury thinking with the sort of glistening future world Jared Leto’s sociopath stalked in the magnificent Blade Runner 2049.

At 5.3m long, and clothed in a body that is unapologetically confrontational, iconoclastic, and utterly magnificent, Aston Martin is reactivating Lagonda in response to trends among the new global super-elite. Not least in positing an ethical super saloon in which it’s better to travel and arrive. Car people talk about ‘white space’, into which they insert profitable new products unimagined by rivals. Well, the white space here is garlanded by dollar – and yuan – signs. Lots of them.

“As Aston Martin Lagonda we have a bandwidth that’s unique,” AML’s director of exterior design Miles Nurnberger says. “Rolls-Royce can’t make a Ferrari, Ferrari can’t make a Rolls-Royce. But with these two brands, we can do both.”

True that. It also brings one of our favourite cars in from the cold. Back in the 1970s, a generation of mostly Italian design prodigies stopped creating cars that referenced the curvy bits on Sophia Loren and started drawing wedges. Tellingly, this vision of the future has never been surpassed by the actual future. Lamborghini’s Countach remains the gold standard, but it was an Englishman called William Towns who truly threw caution to the wind when 1975’s Aston Martin Lagonda landed, apparently from a parallel dimension but made in the English Midlands.

It arrived as Aston endured another existential crisis, kept afloat by, among others, an American entrepreneur called Peter Sprague, who was a rising star in the emerging Silicon Valley. “As the Lagonda began to take form,” Sprague later wrote, “I added my own special contribution – related to my background in the world of micro-electronics. The car looked amazingly modern, so why not add an all-electronic, computer-based information and control system and really join the 20th century? It was an excellent idea but about 15 to 20 years ahead of its time.”

No kidding. Even now, perhaps more than ever, the Towns Lagonda is mesmerising, and 2018-spec Aston is no longer shy about referencing it. There’s enough heritage here to claim authenticity, but not too much baggage to derail the project. Nurnberger picks up the theme.

“What is modern luxury? There’s a very traditional point of view in the luxury segment, yet things have changed massively, particularly in the past two or three years. There’s a much more progressive attitude – the whole world has become more of an early adopter.”