Prominently displayed at the entrance to the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance -- a prestigious showcase of some of the finest luxury vehicles, old and new -- is a new Aston Martin model with a historic name: the Lagonda Taraf.
Like the historic Lagonda of the 1970s and 80s, the new Lagonda Taraf is a four-door sedan that features an upright and angular greenhouse that seems to simultaneously strains against and flows into the long, low slung beltline of a sport grand tourer. The new Lagonda is built on an aluminum body structure encased in carbon fiber body panels that work together to keep the weight of the long sedan in line with its performance.
The front end features a number of current Aston design hallmarks -- a hood bulge that flows into the automaker's signature grill shape and a pair of aggressive hood vent -- but the fascia is unlike anything else in the current Aston Martin stable. (The rest of the Astons feature rounded headlamps that sit above and separate from the wing-shaped grill.) The angular headlamps integrate into the grill forming a shape that we're told echoes the way original Lagonda's rectangular headlamps butted up to the grille. When asked if we'd see this front end design on any other future Aston Martin models, we were told that this look is uniquely Lagonda.
Behind that fascia breathes a 6.0-liter V-12 engine (naturally) that makes a stated 537 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. The powerplant is mated to an automatic gearbox, but not directly. The 8-speed transaxle sits back on the rear axle and connects to the engine via a carbon fiber prop-shaft and an alloy torque tube. This allows Aston to mount the big V-12 further back in the engine bay and better distribute the weight of the powertrain between the Lagonda's axles. The transmission is a shift-by-wire deal is controlled using paddle shifters and Aston Martin's distinctive dashboard gear change buttons.
Top speed of this "super saloon" is in excess of 195 miles per hour; along the way, 0-60 mph happens in just 4.4 seconds. Aston admits that it expects its buyers to spend as much, if not more, time in the back seat being driven in the Lagonda than they will driving.
The Lagonda's up to four souls onboard are tucked into four, individual bucket seats and surrounded by a luxurious bespoke interior that is built to the buyer's specification. Cabin tech is a combination of Aston Martin's standard infotainment and navigation system up front and a new rear seat infotainment hub out back. The hub is essentially a vehicle area Wi-Fi network that connects a pair of rear seat mountable iPad Minis and up to 8 additional devices to the web for browsing and streaming on the go.
Filling in audio duties is an appropriately audiophile grade Bang & Olufsen surround system that features about 1,000 watts of amplification.
Aston is limiting production of the Lagonda Taraf to just 200 examples and is individually crafting each one. About 30 to 40 of those have already been built and delivered to their mostly Middle Eastern clientele. The uber elite buyers specify their interior and exterior color, choose their interior materials, and may even specify that Aston use precious metals in the dashboard construction. Does this mean that some sheikh is being chauffeured in an Aston with rose gold trim? Maybe.