Marek Reichman, the chief creative officer of Aston Martin and Lagonda has just flown in from Auto Shanghai to meet me at his design offices in Gaydon, England. While packed with inspiring artefacts from his travels, it’s an unassuming place to be – a clear sign of Reichman’s pure genius for making the complex, simple.
Lagonda may have a long history of a more traditional approach to car design and engineering, but it is about to make a volte-face from the superlative front-engine grand tourer to radical electric vehicle redolent of this digital age. New technologies – from efficient electrification to autonomous driving – have provided a unique opportunity for the revitalised brand to transform the way people perceive luxury transport.
Ever since the start of the 20th century, the legacy of petrol and its victory over steam and electricity has been the one constant in the evolution of the car. But now, a world of technological opportunities has opened up, a world where imagination and courage have a clean canvas on which to realise new luxury-mobility ambitions.
‘The vision is to set out a language that represents electrification and the advantages of not having to package an internal combustion engine, exhaust systems and a fuel tank,’ says Reichman as he sets out his stall. ‘The idea is to show how luxury and technology should combine. By pushing the boundaries of the vehicle’s proportion and shape, all that freed-up space goes back to the occupants,’ he tells me, his hands expansive as if measuring the extra occupant space made available.
He believes that Rolls-Royce, with its moniker of being ‘the most luxurious car in the world’ is basically the same as it’s always been – and an imperfect solution for modern luxury. Reichman worked on the original Phantom, where his brief was to create ‘Buckingham Palace on wheels’. But the world has changed. Heck, even the royals have changed. ‘Luxury is still very traditional, and technology has not quite filtered completely into that space. No one has combined luxury and technology to be a leader – yet.’
Are we on the cusp of resolving the conflict between performance and zero emissions, technological sophistication and pure luxury? Can we experience guilt-free luxury? ‘Electrification has big benefits for the layout of cars. There’s a freedom to put the powerplant where we want it,’ Reichman says. ‘Lagonda has an illustrious heritage of going head-to-head with Bentley and Rolls-Royce but has always been a bit of a maverick in terms of shape and form.’
Having seen the Lagonda Vision Concept in the metal recently, it struck me as distinctive and luxurious without being grandiose. The disruptive restlessness of Reichman’s design has brought a certain recherché to the wonder of transport and travel and will be equally coveted by those who are anything but happy with the status quo.
For more information visit Lagonda’s website.
Read the future of SUVs, as told by Aston Martin’s Lagonda All-Terrain Concept here.