"Have you seen this thing?!". A bystander can barely contain themselves as they lay eyes on the Lagonda Vision Concept, one of the few genuine surprises to appear at the Geneva Motor Show this week.
More from the Geneva motor show 2018:
- Jaguar I-Pace first impressions: Hands-on with the $69,500 EV
- Audi, Airbus and Porsche are surprisingly serious about flying cars
- Tesla has lost its EV speed crown to this Croatian hypercar
And who can blame them. Styled like a luxurious limo which has escaped from the set of 'Blade Runner 2049', the Lagonda Vision is Aston Martin's idea of what the future of luxurious, electric and autonomous transport could look like. It's also a serious shot across the bow of Rolls-Royce, and a car with doors so dramatic they make those on the Tesla Model X look mundane.
The concept shows off what can be possible with electric drivetrains, as the small motors, floor-mounted batteries and lack of bulky, complex components mean car designers can treat the interior as a blank canvas.
The Lagonda has doors which put the Tesla Model X to shameGearBrian
In the case of the Lagonda, this means a huge lounge-like cabin with four plush reclining armchairs (the driver's chair can turn around when the car is in autonomous mode.) The feeling in here is more like that of a private jet than a car — indeed, Aston likens it to the subtlety of the Concorde instead of the occasional vulgarity displayed by the designers of first class airline cabins.
Autonomous systems will make driving the car an option for the few owners who would rather be up front and in control instead of relaxing in the back. As Aston boss Andy Palmer puts it: "We imagine most Lagonda customers will choose to be driven, but whether by a person or a computer will be up to them. And if they want to drive themselves, the car will ensure that is a delightful and memorable experience too. Lagonda will provide that choice."
Following in the tire tracks of the Range Rover Velar's 'vegan interior', Aston has given the concept an interior which does not use any leather. Instead, there are acres of cashmere, wood, silk and thick wool carpets inside. The British company is relaunching its dormant Lagonda brand to attract super-high-net worth individuals, such as those who would normally skip Aston and head to Rolls-Royce.
Four people who are 6'6 tall can apparently sit comfortably in hereAston Martin
Aston said at Geneva how current Rolls-Royce owners are concerned about their car's huge V12, twin-turbocharged petrol engine. There is no hybrid or electric offering, and Aston feels this is where it can offer a greener, cleaner and even more luxurious alternative with the Lagonda.
Publicly declaring an interest in electricity is nothing new for Aston Martin. The company already has plans to only sell hybrid or fully electric vehicles by 2025. The firm's first electric car, the RapidE four-seater, will be launched next year.
Despite owning the Lagonda name since 1947, Aston Martin hasn't offered a mass-production Lagonda car since 1977. The concept seen here shares some design cues with its Seventies' predecessor, especially when viewed from the rear.
"We believe people associate luxury in their cars with a certain traditional and even old-fashioned approach because, to date, that is all that's been available to them," said Palmer. "Lagonda exists to challenge that thinking and prove that being modern and luxurious are not mutually exclusive concepts."
The interior aims to add a modern touch to classic luxuryAston Martin
At over 17 feet long, the Lagonda Vision is a large car, but still comfortably shorter and more compact than other luxury limos like the Rolls-Royce Phantom. Aston says this smaller external size is at odds with an interior which offers a vast amount of space — thanks to fitting an electric motor in each wheel hub and batteries in the flat floor. Four people who are 6 feet, 6 inches tall will be comfortable in here, the company says.
In a fairly obvious dig at Rolls and its imposing limos, Aston's chief creative officer Marek Reichman said: "Lagonda has no need to occupy a huge amount of road space or make an ostentatious wealth statement...It is like comparing Concorde to the first class cabin of a conventional airliner. By ditching traditional architecture like Parthenon grilles and massive frontal areas, and by using electrical power, Lagonda design can still be distinctive and luxurious without being grandiose. It offers its customers a thoroughly modern, emission-free form of super-luxurious mobility."
The car's long profile might not make the same grandiose statement as a tall Rolls-Royce, but the Lagonda's doors are a statement all by themselves.
More compact than a Rolls-Royce, the Lagonda is still over 17 feet longAston Martin
The front opens conventionally, while the rear door opens backwards and above this the roof panel opens upwards. Aston says this means passengers can walk in and out of the car, instead of crouching down and slotting themselves into the back seats. We're reminded of the way Rolls-Royce suggests rear passengers of its Dawn convertible "step aboard" as they would a speedboat.
The Lagonda has a presence unlike any other vehicle at this year's Geneva show. GearBrain heard bystanders genuinely gasp when they caught sight of the car. The Lagonda Vision is just that kind of car — so striking that you feel you have to share the experience of seeing it with whoever is stood next to you.
Although strictly a concept car to show off what the company is capable of, the Vision will act as inspiration for a pair of new Lagonda-branded vehicles. The first, a coupe, will arrive as a production car in 2021 and the second is likely to be an SUV; both are expected to be fully electric.
Little is known about the performance or electric range of the concept, other than it will use solid-state batteries, wireless charging, and have a range of 400 "real world" miles.
What about the price? Well, as the old saying goes, if you have to ask...