GENEVA--Aston Martin's Lagonda SUV was easily the top attention-getter at the auto show here. Few were neutral. Many were outraged.
But Aston design director Marek Reichman says that's what he expected when the concept surprised journalists on the final media day.
Reaction was reminiscent of, say, the debut of the Bangle-butt BMW 7 series at the 2001 Frankfurt show.
"Abomination," blogged Dutch Mandel, editor of AutoWeek. "Please, dear God, you aren't serious!"
Others were more accepting of the massive, jarring vehicle that was crammed onto a tight corner of the Aston stand.
"You need time," said Reichman, a former Ford designer. "I had one journalist say he's been back four times, and every time he sees something new. It should push the boundaries a little bit. If everyone patted me on the back and said, 'It's absolutely fabulous, blah, blah,' I'm not sure that would be lasting."
With the $200,000-plus SUV, Aston is relaunching the Lagonda brand, which has been dormant since the early 1990s.
The beefy Lagonda is just less than 200 inches long. It has a tailgate, foldback seats, all-wheel drive and slightly higher ground clearance than a sedan.
"It's for all terrains, all situations," said Reichman. "It doesn't have all the approach and departure angles of a true off-roader. But it can cope with the winding roads from Moscow to St. Petersburg in inclement weather."
The vehicle is aimed largely at developing countries such as Russia, China and India, which have plenty of wealth but infrastructures unsuited for sports cars.
The Lagonda's controversial elements? To start with, there is the sheer bulk and the tiny rear slit of a window -- a bow to one of the 1930s Lagondas that inspired the car, the 1938 LG6.
Still, the vehicle is a good bet for production.
"It is based on the Mercedes GL platform, so we are thinking about the potential," Reichman said.
Could it be built in Vance, Ala., where the GL is produced?
"To us it would make more sense to build it in the U.K.," he said.
Either way, production would not begin for 24 to 30 months.
And what about that bracing feedback?
Said Reichman: "It's a show, and we wanted to show something for people to react to."
(Source: Automotive News)