So many new models, so many classics, so many concepts. But we couldn't resist this combination of historic brand and futuristic outlook on the Aston Martin stand
There's a permanent crowd at the back of the Aston Martin stand at the Geneva International Motor Show, watching in awe as the new Lagonda Vision Concept rotates on a turntable, front and rear-hinged back doors open to reveal a huge interior.
This is AutoClassics' favourite concept car of the Geneva show. It's striking but it also heralds a new start for the historic but misunderstood Lagonda brand, which Aston Martin Lagonda aims to make the world’s first zero emission luxury brand.
It's said that the Vision is a 'near future study that previews the design language that could potentially be seen in production Lagonda models as soon as 2021', and it also provides an insight into the design language for potentially two new Lagonda models, an SUV and a coupé that could be available by 2023.
What does that mean? It's basically saying that the production cars – this saloon (if you can call it that), the SUV and the coupé – might not look quite as bonkers but will at least resemble the designs on show at Geneva 2018.
With the batteries under the floor, and electric motors at each corner providing intelligent four-wheel-drive, it's been possible to use almost the entire length of the Vision Concept for the passenger compartment.
Rear-hinged back doors, opening roof sections and the absence of a central pillar mean that passengers will be able to literally stand up from the seats and step out of the car.
‘The Lagonda Vision Concept is an incredibly bold design statement,’ said Aston Martin EVP and chief creative officer, Marek Reichman.
‘The electrification revolution means there is no longer any need for horse and carriage design, and our new concept shows the scope of design opportunities that open up once you no longer need to provide space for a large power source directly in front of the passenger compartment. In the Lagonda Vision Concept, the batteries occupy the floor of the car. Everything above that line belongs to us.
‘Lagonda has no need to occupy a huge amount of road space or make an ostentatious wealth statement,’ continues Reichman. ‘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.’
For the interior Reichman and his team turned to renowned British craftsman David Snowdon, who apparently said, 'Let’s use different materials, materials people won’t expect even in isolation, let alone together.'
Consequently the interior of the Lagonda Vision Concept uses not only ultra modern materials like carbonfibre and ceramics but also cashmeres and silks. It features silk carpets and hand-woven wool upholstery, alongside carbonfibre trim and functional ceramic tiles that open and close to alter the ventilation and adjust the volume of the music.
This was further aided by Savile Row tailors Henry Poole, who assisted in the pattern-making for the hand-woven wool used on the seats.
The Vision Concept has been designed for a high level of autonomy, so the steering wheel can not only move from left to right hand drive according to need, but in autonomous mode it can also retract entirely allowing front seat passengers to rotate through 180 degrees to face those in the back.
‘For owners of true luxury cars, autonomy has existed for over a century, in a carbon-based form called a chauffeur,’ commented Palmer, wryly. ‘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.’
It's said that the Vision Concept will be able to cover 400 real world miles between charges. That’s the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco, London to Edinburgh or Berlin to Vienna without stopping.
Where did the Lagonda name come from?
Wilbur Gunn, an Anglo-American engineer and entrepreneur, founded Lagonda in a greenhouse at his home in Staines to the west of London in 1904.
His talents stretched from opera singing to riverboat building; he named his company after the Lagonda Creek river that ran through the town of Springfield in his native Ohio.
His cars were always innovative: for example, the 16/18hp model that won the Moscow to St Petersburg trial in 1910 boasted not only trailing arm rear suspension but a form of monocoque construction, decades before its advantages were realised by the bulk of the world’s car manufacturers.
Lagonda went on to become one of the most coveted car brands in the world. In its 1930s heyday Lagonda was capable of producing V12-powered limousines fit for royalty, and sports cars strong and quick enough to win Le Mans, which one did in 1935.
Bought by Aston Martin in 1947, Lagonda continued to innovate, never more so than with the extraordinary William Towns-designed Aston Martin Lagonda 'Wedge' of the 1980s and 1990s, to this day one of the most audacious cars ever designed.