Now that the 89th Geneva International Motor Show is over, the stands dismantled, discarded programmes swept away and the hundreds of gleaming new models and concept visions shipped out of the Palexpo exhibition centre, Dr Andy Palmer can reflect on the event’s importance to Aston Martin. “Strategically, it was about giving an insight into Phase 3 of our Second Century plan,” Palmer says. “This is where we are expanding our portfolio.” Having successfully reinvigorated the brand’s core models with the award-winning Vantage, DB11 and DBS Superleggera, the 2019 Geneva Show saw Aston Martin Lagonda make a major announcement: the imminent arrival of a mid-engined supercar.
“Of course, we’d already given insights into DBX and Lagonda,” Palmer continues, “but this year we were able to fill in the jigsaw and answer a lot of questions.” The Aston Martin Lagonda stand presented a magnificent sweep of cars, from road ready through to pure concepts and eagerly awaited new models. In particular, the suite of four mid-engined cars marks a major departure for the brand. “We showed everyone why the Valkyrie exists,” Palmer says simply. The AM-RB 003 and Vanquish Vision Concept continue the bloodline that Valkyrie began and evolved with the Valkyrie AMR Pro. Taken as a set, the four cars are a remarkably coherent demonstration of technological and design evolution.“AM-RB 003 is the bridge to our core car, a true ‘son of Valkryie’,” Palmer continues. “Both cars use our future mid-engined powertrain, the all-new V6 that we’re currently designing in-house.”
As Palmer says, “running a brand is all about making the DNA fit”, and while Aston Martin might have some of the most recognisable and iconic forms in the history of sports car design, the Second Century plan is dedicated to expanding the company’s reach into every part of the luxury market. “The DB5,” says Palmer, “but if you line all the new cars up against the existing ones, everything still makes sense. The mid-engined cars also solve the ‘mystery’ of the Vantage grille, which was, of course, inspired by the Vulcan. Its ultimate evolution is seen on the mid-engined cars.”
This year we were able to fill in the jigsaw and answer a lot of questions
Palmer’s ambitious plan is on time and on schedule. In just five years, Aston Martin has acquired, planned and fitted out an entirely new factory in South Wales, created a new engineering centre and design studio in Milton Keynes, returned car production to Aston Martin Works in Newport Pagnell, revived the Lagonda nameplate, designed and presented a world-beating family of mid-engined sports cars, ventured into electric vehicles for the first time in the company’s history and sowed the seeds for the introduction of Aston Martin’s first ever SUV, the DBX.
That car will come later of course (there is a sneak preview on the back pages of this magazine). The other high-riding machine to venture forth from Aston Martin Lagonda will be the Lagonda All-Terrain Concept. “We’re reiterating the design language previewed by the Lagonda Vision Concept,” Palmer explains, “and, of course, we have revealed the fact that it’s all-electric.” Although technical details are being withheld for a later date, what’s known for certain is that the production car will be built at St Athan, the brand’s new “home of electrification”. The Lagonda concept shows an exciting future, not least in terms of design. “Being an electric vehicle, it liberates more of the interior for the customer,” Palmer says. “A Lagonda is all about the luxury of space.”
“Geneva showcased the breadth of the reach that the brand can now achieve, from ultra-sporting through to ultimate luxury. “There are no other car brands that can offer this,” says Palmer. “In many ways, we’re more akin to a luxury group such as LVMH, rather than a single-minded automotive company. We now offer a car for every conceivable customer.” And where better to demonstrate this breadth of talent than at Geneva, a show that has long been favoured by specialist manufacturers, legendary car designers and luxurious marques? “You have to use auto shows to sell a vision or else you get lost in all the noise,” Palmer notes. “The only shows we really present Aston Martin at are Geneva and in China. This is our platform to deliver a message to the industry.”
A Lagonda is all about the luxury of space
Finally, Palmer reflects on the intense activity and effort needed to get to this point. “We’re very proud we have a car in each of these three segments — grand tourer, sports and mid-engined sports,” he says, referring to the DB11, Vantage and the Vanquish Vision Concept.