Aston Martin plans more SUVs beyond the DBX as Lagonda comeback is shelved

2021 Aston Martin DBX rear design roofline
2021 Aston Martin DBX rear design roofline

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Snapshot

  • DBX could be joined by other Aston Martin SUV models
  • American and Chinese markets having major influence over model range
  • Lagonda brand comeback put on hold to focus on SUV segment

Aston Martin is planning more SUVs beyond the new DBX, though a return for the company’s upmarket Lagonda brand is on hold.

The British sports car maker, which during its history has filed for bankruptcy seven times and passed through the hands of multiple owners, is currently striving to return to profitability.

The DBX, which is priced from $357,000 in Australia, became Aston’s first ever SUV in 2020. It sits on a bespoke, bonded-aluminium platform rather than sharing architecture with any of the company’s sports cars or borrowing from technical partner Mercedes-Benz.

Aston says the DBX’s devoted platform allowed its designers and engineers the freedom to create an SUV it believes is less compromised than rival models. The company also acknowledges, however, that it needs to create more models using that platform.

“We can no longer create an orphan platform in this world,” said Aston Martin’s chief creative officer, Marek Reichman. “It is arguably our most advanced platform because it is our latest – excluding the hypercars [Valkyrie and Valhalla], if you like – and of course we have plans on how we would monetise that platform and it can spread an array of products into the future.

“Although it is our biggest [sales] volume platform, it still has to be derivatised to make more from that investment. 

Wheels Reviews 2021 Aston Martin DBX Rear Design Roofline

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“It is fair to assume the world is changing, the perception of the customer is changing, and the market is changing, so whether derivations of that platform are larger [SUV] or lower [GT cars], we’ll look at what’s needed in the marketplace. 

“I’m not going to tell you what they are, but if you look at the two biggest markets – China and the US, followed by Europe – you can probably figure it out.”

The US is the world’s biggest market for SUVs, with sports utility vehicles accounting for about half the market in 2020. China is closing in on a similar percentage, while SUVs account for about a third of new-car sales in Europe.

The demand for premium cars in China also continues to grow, though Aston’s ambition to revive Lagonda as a higher-end, off-shoot luxury brand has faltered since an SUV-style Lagonda concept was shown at the 2009 Geneva motor show.

There was a Lagonda Taraf limo produced in the middle of the last decade for a handful of markets, though 2022 production plans for the Lagonda All-Terrain SUV concept unveiled two years ago have been put on ice, if not potentially aborted.

Reichman admits the company is still mulling over its plans for Lagonda, a brand that is older than Aston Martin itself.

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“We’ve always got [Lagonda] in our portfolio. We can always internalise about what that [brand] might have to be, what it might be, what it would be,” he said. “There is a core focus on the Aston Martin brand at the moment. Aston is established but we have to tell the world more about our product, more about how brilliant the DBX is.

“That’s part of reason why we’ve fought to get the DBX and Vantage onto the F1 circuit as the doctor’s [medical car] and safety car, respectively. 

“What do we do with the other brand in our portfolio, Lagonda…we are thinking more and more about it, but the core focus right now is how do we strengthen what Aston Martin is.”

Reichman said there are plenty of opportunities to bring greater customisation to the interior of the Aston Martin DBX, including input from its in-house, James Bond-inspired Q division which specialises in personalisation.

“My department is working almost weekly on something completely unique which someone wants on the DBX.

“I’m surprised the DBX customer would be…not off the peg, but less inclined to want a unique interior material, want a unique finish somewhere. But actually, customers are asking for more…upspeccing.

“There’s a lot of opportunity [with Q division]. We’re working on some very special things to come in the future.”

The DBX range will also expand with new variants, including a more powerful V8 and electrified models. The company has previously stated 90 per cent of the Aston range will be electrified by 2030.

The DBX launched with the same AMG 4.0-litre petrol V8 also found in the company’s Vantage and DB11 sports cars and formed part of the initial, 2013 tie-up between Aston and Mercedes-Benz.

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In 2020, Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll took a majority shareholding in Aston. He placed Andy Palmer as CEO with former AMG boss Tobias Moers last year, and brokered a fresh arrangement which saw Mercedes take an increased stake of 20 per cent in return for greater access to the German carmaker’s drivetrains, including its electric car technology.

Aston admits the outputs of the DBX’s current V8 is limited by the nine-speed auto and a more powerful version can be expected down the track. There are reports the model would be badged DBX S.

A mild-hybrid DBX is expected to be released before the end of 2021, heavily rumoured to be borrowing the petrol-electric drivetrain from the AMG E53, while a plug-in, rechargeable hybrid DBX is also set for 2023. 

Aston Martin has also confirmed it will build its first all-electric models – a sports car and an SUV – from 2025. It’s unknown at this point whether the SUV will be the anticipated all-electric DBX.

Deliveries of the Formula 1-inspired Valkyrie hypercar will begin in the second half of 2021. The vehicle is powered by an 865kW/900Nm V12 hybrid drivetrain is priced from about $4 million.

The mid-engined, two-seater Valhalla hybrid sports car is set to go into production in 2023.

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