SUV a new di­rec­tion

As­ton Martin breaks mould, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE look of lux­ury could be about to change for­ever. As­ton Martin be­lieves the days of ou­tra­geous ul­tra­lux­ury lim­ou­sines is com­ing to an end and is putting its faith and fu­ture in an up­scale SUV that breaks the mould for the Bri­tish brand.

It un­veiled the Lagonda Con­cept at the Geneva Mo­tor Show af­ter an ear­lier tease on the come­back of the Lagonda name, which has been used for As­ton flag­ships since 1947.

The new SUV is a four-seat, four­wheel-drive lux­ury car that As­ton Martin says will be used to de­velop new tech­nolo­gies and ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing flex-fuel en­gines and diesel and hy­brid pow­er­trains.

The Lagonda is ‘‘the lux­ury car of the fu­ture, a com­bi­na­tion of to­tal us­abil­ity, a new form and in­no­va­tive new tech­nol­ogy and ma­te­ri­als,’’ the head of As­ton Martin, Dr Ul­rich Bez, says.

Few de­tails about the Lagonda were re­vealed at Geneva, though As­ton is ag­gres­sive with its sales tar­gets.

It ex­pects to sell the Lagonda SUV in 100 coun­tries and is pre­dict­ing solid de­mand from new lux­ury buy­ers in Rus­sia, the Mid­dle East, In­dia and China, as well as the US, Europe and Asia.

De­spite the SUV styling, Bez prom­ises the Lagonda will be a sporty drive and loaded with lux­ury.

And he looks to be tak­ing a Lexusstyle ap­proach to cus­tomer ser­vice.

‘‘An As­ton Martin is an au­then­tic, pure sports car, but Lagonda is some­thing else, a new brand that will reach into new mar­kets. Lagonda will cre­ate a new kind of cus­tomer re­la­tion­ship, in­still­ing the spirit of travel, ad­ven­ture and style into a sin­gle, for­mi­da­ble pack­age,’’ Bez says.

There is no news yet on the en­gine for the Lagonda, but its po­si­tion points to the V12 used in the up­scale ver­sions of other As­ton mod­els.

‘‘Lagonda will epit­o­mise the in­ter­sec­tion of craft, de­sign and tech­nol­ogy with As­ton Martin’s es­tab­lished high-per­for­mance ex­per­tise,’’ Bez says.

The last Lagonda be­fore the new show car was a boxy, ugly car built from 1976 to 1989.

But it had some ad­vanced tech­nol- ogy, in­clud­ing a dig­i­tal dash­board and com­put­erised en­gine­m­an­age­ment con­trol. Only 645 were built. ‘‘An As­ton Martin de­mands to be driven. A Lagonda de­mands a des­ti­na­tion,’’ Bez says.

Way for­ward: As­ton Martin’s Lagonda Con­cept and (be­low) the One-77 were re­vealed at the Geneva Mo­tor Show.

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