RE: Lagonda Taraf: Review

Sunday 14th February 2016

Lagonda Taraf: Review

Aston's rare-groove saloon is for the sort of billionaire who thinks a Mulsanne and Phantom are "a bit council"



Let's imagine for a moment that you've found £685,000 down the back of the sofa and decided - on an unlikely whim - to invest the whole sum in a luxury saloon.

Of course, short of calling Mansory and saying "do your worst", you'd find it hard to limit yourself to just one. Buying both a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a Bentley Mulsanne would cost £570,000 if you couldn't be bothered to haggle, and would leave you enough left over for either a serious options blow out something sportier for the weekend. Alternatively you could buy four Mercedes-Maybach S600s, or six Audi S8 Pluses. You get the idea.

But if you really did have just a single parking space to spare then you could opt to spend the entire sum on this, the new Lagonda Taraf. Not the most rational of decisions, but one that would give you what's probably the rarest and most exclusive saloon on the planet.

Very big, very expensive and very fast too
Very big, very expensive and very fast too
If you need to ask...
When Aston first showed the Taraf last year it didn't tell us much about it; we didn't even know its full name to start. Initially sales were limited to the Middle East, but the collapsing oil price is clearly biting (and turning billionaires back into mere multi-millionaires) and ordering was quietly opened up to other territories late last year, including the UK. Both left- and right-hand drive versions are available, and apparently a couple have already been sold in Britain. Don't worry, though - although officially limited to 200 cars, production has to finish by the end of the year, meaning that only about 150 will be produced. And there's still time to get on the list.

Our drive is in the prototype version, on the roads around Aston's ancestral home in Newport Pagnell. This is the same car that was unveiled at the Dubai motor show last year, its Topaz Gold paint intended to be seen in desert sunshine rather than the English winter, but even with grey skies and rain falling it's an absolute show-stopper. Oh, and if it's not gold enough for you, Aston is also offering optional 24 carat badging.

It's certainly big. At 5.4 metres in length it's longer than a long-wheelbase S-Class, although shorter than a Mulsanne or Phantom. But its presence comes from more than just sheer size. It looks like a motor show concept wearing numberplates, with a front end that seems to be pretty much entirely grille, a vast bonnet and - thanks to the tall glasshouse and heavy tints at the back - a palpable air of menace. It's the sort of car an up-and-coming dictator might trade his Grosser Mercedes 600 in for.

Interior familiar from older Astons
Interior familiar from older Astons
Tradesman's entrance
Impressions of the interior vary depending on which door you use. Get into the front, as few other than professional drivers will, and you could have a pretty much identical experience for far less money. The Taraf shares the entire dashboard of the Rapide S saloon (and therefore also, pretty much, the outgoing DB9), has Aston's older square edged switchgear (most cars got soft-touch replacements last year) and even uses the same door cards. That's because, under the surface and its carbon fibre exterior bodywork, it sits on a stretched version of Aston's familiar VH architecture.

The short front doors and a further-back seating position means shoulders are right next to the B-pillars, limiting visibility. The high glassline and heavily raked windscreen increase the impression that, when you shut the door, you're driving a vast coupe.

Of course, those with seven hundred grand to stump on a saloon are considerably more likely to be climbing in the back, so it's no surprise to find that more effort has been spent there. The huge hump that separates the Rapide's rear seats has gone, in its place a relatively modest leather hillock that covers the rear-mounted transaxle. Although the seating position is low, there is impressive headroom and pretty much all of the 200mm wheelbase extension over the Rapide S has gone into extra legroom. The rear seats don't recline, and there isn't much in the way of gadgetry back here (an optional iPad based entertainment system isn't fitted to the prototype), but it's far more comfortable and spacious than sitting in the back of any Aston-built car since the wedgy 1970s Lagonda.

Mike practices his most delicate throttle prods
Mike practices his most delicate throttle prods
Time to don the chauffeur's cap
Many Tarafs will never be expected to travel quicker than the agonisingly slow grind of a Middle Eastern city, or at the modest pace of the motorcade that lets their rear seat occupants wave to a crowd. It deals with this sort of trundling well, with a softened-off throttle pedal making it easy to do a super-smooth start and the eight-speed autobox programmed to behave with appropriate deference when left in Drive. Low speed ride is good; the Taraf still sits on steel springs, but it feels pliant over broken surfaces. The 6.0-litre V12 is more muted than in any Aston, and even has a quiet start function that does without the cheeky blip when fired up.

But the fundamental Aston-ness is buried in a very shallow grave, and it's not hard to bring it back to life. The engine's relative lack of torque means that requests for proper acceleration lead to revs, and revs deliver a subdued version of the V12's familiar wail, and that encourages you to try harder; before you know it you've taken control of the gears with the behind-wheel paddles and the Taraf is north of 6,000rpm and still pulling hard.

While most pluto-barges only tolerate corners, big brake applications and anything else that isn't serene progress, the Lagonda seems - like a true British aristocrat - to relish a good thrashing. It drives like a bigger but only fractionally less agile version of the Rapide S, the steering feels lighter and the brake pedal slightly softer, but outright performance is pretty near identical; the use of carbon allows Aston to claim identical 1,995kg kerbweights for both cars.

A promising start for the new Lagonda; more to follow
A promising start for the new Lagonda; more to follow
Not really in keeping though, is it?
It's when you slow down to cruising speed that the Taraf's case wanes. It's short on waft, without the bump-pillowing abilities of its air-sprung rivals, and with noticeably more road-roar and wind noise getting into the cabin. It feels like a sports car that's been turned into a limousine. It is.

So, full circle, who is out there with enough cash to buy a Lagonda and an equal determination not to make a substantial saving by buying one of its cheaper rivals instead? Aston admits that the Lagonda's appeal is very, very exclusive, meaning that those who do buy one are certain to get the bragging rights that come from near-uniqueness. For a certain type of determined-to-be-different squillionaire, that's probably appeal enough.

Its real role is to make with the Ferraro Rocher and act as an ambassador, to prepare us for Aston's plans to relaunch Lagonda as a separate brand with more than one model. If they can keep the design and the driving experience in those future Lagondas, while adding some more refinement and shaving a couple of hundred grand off the price, then they might be onto a winner.


LAGONDA TARAF
Engine
: 5,935cc V12
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 540@6,650rpm
Torque (lb ft): 465@5,500rpm
0-60mph: 4.4secs
Top speed: "195+" mph
Weight: 1995kg
MPG: N/A
CO2: N/A
Price: £685,000

 

 

 

 

 

 







Author
Discussion

JMF894

Original Poster:

2,616 posts

89 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
Disappointed there's not more pics of the exterior.

As you say, a show stopper.

Atmospheric

5,208 posts

142 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
There's not one decent picture of it.

I do, however, approve of the description.

OpulentBob

10,145 posts

114 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
Stevie Wonder been out with the camera again?

JohnGoodridge

507 posts

129 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
I just don't think like a squillionaire. I'd have a Phantom and a GTC4 Lusso, and some change, and if I had those and and still needed to get rid the thick end of 700k then I'd try and buy an old 911. wink

antspants

1,563 posts

109 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
Nope don't get it, although I also realise I'm not really their target demographic laugh

I imagine in the flesh it would look more impressive, but I'm struggling to see much beyond an Alfa 159 with a different grille in that showroom photo.

Dated switchgear and a dashboard design that feels like it's been around for decades, I think they could have done a bit better for £685k!

Whilst not a concept that would cross the typical buyers mind, just to put it into context a 2nd hand Rapide costs a tenth of the price rolleyes




Advertisement

kambites

55,063 posts

155 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
Lovely thing.

That sat-nav screen looks comically dated, though. biggrin

Krikkit

13,145 posts

115 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
The outside looks pretty damn good, but what the hell were they thinking for that interior? 700k and you get the dash ripped out of a car that's 150k?

I'd be expecting the whole thing to have lovely machined switchgear etc like a Pagani for that money.

X5TUU

4,875 posts

121 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
C'mon what's with the gash imagery here ... This isn't 1990 on a 26k dialup line, Jesus get some proper pics up that actually show off all the detail you've waffled about!

Baryonyx

16,229 posts

93 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
Great looks from the outside although the interior doesn't look like £600,000. The front seat cabin doesn't look anywhere near £60,000's worth. The drive doesn't sound suited to the slow, dull trundle of the Middle East either.

Monty Python

4,267 posts

131 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
To expensive for what it is - exclusivity is fine but not at this price. I wish AM would concentrate on making cars that are more "affordable" and will sell in greater quantities than this, otherwise I can see them going bankrupt again.

greygoose

5,376 posts

129 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
The dash is dire for a car at that price, is that the best steering wheel they could make?

skidskid

123 posts

75 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
How have the made the rear leg room so small considering its such a massive car??

Its a winner from the outside but terrible inside when compared against its rivals.

bulldong

2,859 posts

137 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
When are they going to change that horrendous steering wheel design? It looked st 15 years ago and it still looks st.

Dr G

13,288 posts

176 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
The review more or less said:
Considerably worse than the competition in every relevant way and grotesquely expensive for no particular reason
If this was one of those press releases from a billionaire nobody had ever heard of "releasing" a revolting car nobody will buy we'd all be laughing. As it's from Aston Martin it has a smidge of credibility but it's impossible to read that article without the "doom and gloom" hat on. It's not as good as the competition, more expensive, the target market doesn't want them and they're cutting production short.

yonex

12,345 posts

102 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
Fools and money, I can't help feeling there are massively diminishing returns on this sort of thing. How much more effective can a luxury car be exactly, at any price. The only benefit, and sole reason not for burning each one made at the stake, is that it hopefully keeps the finances at AM healthy.

Otherwise i'd have a secondhand Red Label, 458, couple of track toys, and a RR....with change thanks very much smile

bulldong

2,859 posts

137 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
yonex said:
Fools and money, I can't help feeling there are massively diminishing returns on this sort of thing. How much more effective can a luxury car be exactly, at any price. The only benefit, and sole reason not for burning each one made at the stake, is that it hopefully keeps the finances at AM healthy.

Otherwise i'd have a secondhand Red Label, 458, couple of track toys, and a RR....with change thanks very much smile
I am not sure that someone spending nearly £700k on a car needs to worry about anything being second hand.

dukebox9reg

1,244 posts

82 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
Just looks to me like a Renault 25 in side profile

Leins

6,503 posts

82 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
Nope, I'll still be keeping the Grosser once I pass my dictators exams

Baryonyx

16,229 posts

93 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
Monty Python said:
To expensive for what it is - exclusivity is fine but not at this price. I wish AM would concentrate on making cars that are more "affordable" and will sell in greater quantities than this, otherwise I can see them going bankrupt again.
Yeah, they'd be better selling cheaper sports cars and shifting units rather than trying to be a premium product. The prevailing 'cheapness' of Aston Martin products has been documented in the past. We can live with the fact that they're not, and typically never are, as good as the competition.

Dan Trent

1,815 posts

102 months

Tuesday 9th February 2016
quotequote all
X5TUU said:
C'mon what's with the gash imagery here ... This isn't 1990 on a 26k dialup line, Jesus get some proper pics up that actually show off all the detail you've waffled about!
We're working on this; more pics going up shortly!

Dan