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Aston Martin Lagonda Concept unveiled at Geneva motor show 2009

By Ben Pulman

First Official Pictures

04 March 2009 06:57

Aston Martin shocked the Geneva motor show today when it unveiled the Lagonda Concept, a V12-engined SUV that’s designed to spearhead the expansion of the company into over 100 countries.

And it's the first fruits of a new collaboration between Aston and Mercedes-Benz, which will provide the 4x4 hardware and engine tech - from the Merc GL SUV.

So the Aston Martin Lagonda Concept is just a big and thirsty 4x4?

Yes, or if you believe Aston Martin boss Dr Ulrich Bez, ‘the avantgarde luxury car of the future.’ The Lagonda Concept is based on the four-wheel drive chassis of the Mercedes GL (a fruition of the Aston Martin-Mercedes tie up first revealed by our very own Georg Kacher), so it’s four-wheel drive, but unlike like its donor car, the Lagonda version seats just four and features a V12 engine up front.

But to pacify those with a conscience, Aston Martin promises it is ‘committed to innovative new propulsion technologies’, so Mercedes or another supplier will provide alternative powertrains such as flexi-fuels, hybrids and diesels.

Design-wise the Lagonda Concept still features a few Aston Martin cues, such as the swept-up glasshouse in the rear doors and the inhouse door handles, but the overall styling is designed to move the company away from Aston's low-slung sports cars.

Don’t think this is the finished car though – Lagonda won’t have a production car on the road for at least three years, if the project gets the go-ahead. And the design is far from signed off either: the Lagonda Concept is designed to demonstrate the intended direction of the brand.

The Lagonda Concept on display at Geneva has a deep, imposing and aggressive front grille that feeds the V12, while the sides are heavily sculpted and rear is quite high and pert, finished off by the letterbox rear window. To help disguise the Lagonda Concept’s mass, it sits on 22-inch wheels.

Why is Aston Martin relaunching Lagonda?

Because Aston Martin currently only sells cars in around 30 countries, but with Lagonda the company reckons it can expand into over 100 global territories. Primarily Aston hopes Lagonda will expand the company into the Middle East, South America, Russia, India and China and other emerging markets. It will sell the car in Europe and North America, but Aston itself admits the car has little relevance to the UK.

By rejuvenating the Lagonda brand, it allows Aston to launch cars that would otherwise be considered to lie outside its traditional sporting realm. ‘An Aston Martin is an authentic, pure sports car,’ said Dr Bez, ‘but Lagonda is something else, instilling the spirit of travel, adventure and style into a single, formidable package. An Aston Martin demands to be driven. A Lagonda demands a destination.’

The Lagonda brand itself first created a car 100 years ago, built by American-born Wilbur Gunn. That car, the 16/18bhp Lagonda Tourer, was driven to victory in the 1910 Russian Reliability Trial by Gunn, and after the victory he concentrated on establishing himself in Russia.

The rough roads of Russia were a test of any car, and the same sturdy build and swift performance of Gunn’s car is the same USP that Aston Martin is hoping will appeal to emerging markets. But Lagonda also has a racing heritage, after a M45 won the 1935 Le Mans 24hrs.

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