Lamborghini, Bentley, and Maserati are not the only unusual names jumping on the SUV bandwagon. Aston Martin could be the next exotic brand to build one. The British company showed a concept SUV called the Lagonda at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, but later shelved it. Now, it looks like the Lagonda is back on.
Aston sees the Lagonda as a way to expand into the Chinese market, where customers care more about luxury and interior space than performance. Since the company makes nothing but sports cars, Aston officials thought it would be a good idea to diversify the range in order to cater to China. Aston also expects sales in North America and Europe to remain low, due to the sluggish economy, so China is an important way for the company to keep revenue up.
The production Lagonda will probably be very different from the 2009 concept. That car’s styling was panned, and rightfully so. Like Bentley with EXP 9 F concept, Aston Martin seems to have had trouble adapting its signature styling cues to a bulkier body.
What will be underneath the new sheetmetal? The Lagonda was supposed to be the first product of a partnership between Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz. The Aston SUV would be based on the Mercedes GL and, in return, Aston would build Maybach sedans. Since Maybach is going away, that plan seems unlikely. Aston might have to design its SUV itself, since it has no corporate siblings to borrow a platform from.
The Lagonda name could also change. Lagonda is the name of a carmaker that Aston Martin acquired in 1947, and slapped on a luxury sedan in the 1970s. Aston was toying with the idea of creating a Lagonda sub-brand, with an SUV and sedan, but for now those plans have been put on hold. The Aston SUV will not be the first model in a new brand, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be named Lagonda. Aston CEO Ulrich Bez said a new SUV concept will be shown in a few months, which means it could be ready for the Paris Motor Show.
It is not surprising that Aston Martin is resurrecting the Lagonda SUV, since most of its rivals are planning SUVs of their own. Lamborghini showed the Urus at the Beijing Motor Show, and Maserati is getting ready to roll out its Jeep Grand Cherokee-based Kubang. Bentley showed its EXP 9 F concept at Geneva, and is moving ahead with a production version despite negative reviews.
Car companies like Aston Martin and its rivals like to say that they stand for some higher form of automotive art, but in the end they are still businesses. An SUV gives Aston access to customers that would never consider a sports car. That means more sales, which is what business is all about.