Aston Martin – Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Sat, 27 Aug 2016 20:04:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Volante Limited to 99 Copies http://www.automobilemag.com/news/aston-martin-vanquish-zagato-volante-limited-99-units/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/aston-martin-vanquish-zagato-volante-limited-99-units/#respond Sat, 20 Aug 2016 15:04:36 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=979914 Aston Martin announced it would produce 99 copies of the striking Vanquish Zagato earlier this summer. Due to popular demand for the coupe, Aston Martin will offer the same number of copies of a roadster version: the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Volante. The Zagato Volante debuted this week at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Just...

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Aston Martin announced it would produce 99 copies of the striking Vanquish Zagato earlier this summer. Due to popular demand for the coupe, Aston Martin will offer the same number of copies of a roadster version: the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Volante.

The Zagato Volante debuted this week at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Just like the coupe, it features a more powerful version of the Vanquish’s 6.0-liter V-12 rated at 568 hp. The roadster produces 592 hp and is estimated to hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. That’s 0.2-second slower than Aston Martin’s original estimate for the Zagato coupe.

Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Volante Front Three Quarter View

Aston Martin’s latest roadster features LED lighting and carbon fiber sills around the lower edge of the body. Twin cowls on the rear deck blend into the beginning of the cargo area, concealing a folding hood derived from the mechanism used on the standard Vanquish Volante. Inside the cabin, you’ll find “Z” badging on the headrests and center console. Buyers can specify their Zagato Volante with a number of features available from Aston Martin’s “Q” personalization division, including herringbone carbon fiber, Bridge of Weir leather, and anodized bronze accents.

Deliveries for both the coupe and roadster begin next year. All copies will be built at Aston Martin’s headquarters in Gaydon, England.

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2017 Aston Martin DB11 First Drive http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-aston-martin-db11-first-drive/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-aston-martin-db11-first-drive/#respond Thu, 04 Aug 2016 23:01:57 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=973532 TUSCANY, Italy — It’s starting to look like I’ll be spending a fair portion of this day peering into my lap rather than gazing outward at the Italian countryside. That’s the first thought when an Aston Martin representative hands over a route book laced with incremental waypoints: Turn left after 2.5 kilometers, carry on straight...

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TUSCANY, Italy — It’s starting to look like I’ll be spending a fair portion of this day peering into my lap rather than gazing outward at the Italian countryside. That’s the first thought when an Aston Martin representative hands over a route book laced with incremental waypoints: Turn left after 2.5 kilometers, carry on straight at 27.9, pull over for lunch at 185.6, ad nauseam. Typical test-drive fare is usually handled by a navigation system, but this is an Aston, so of course there must be something preventing the nav’s use here in Italy. Sigh. Why in the worl …

A face appears in the left-hand window, points inward toward the center stack, issues quick instructions to my co-driver, and boom: our route appears in digital form on the 8.0–inch LCD screen. The printed map, it turns out, is merely an old-world backup. Smirks all around, then.

Mentioning the prowess of the new 2017 DB11’s Daimler-sourced navigation/infotainment right off the bat might seem a little odd—and “prowess” here simply means it all works as such 2016 technology should—but it’s perhaps the most elementary example of how Aston Martin is different these days. Far more important than infotainment, the Daimler deal will see Mercedes-AMG engines powering future Aston creations.

The change starts at the top with CEO Andy Palmer, who two years ago joined the marque from Nissan. From Palmer to design boss Marek Reichman to product development director Ian Minards to vehicle attribute chief Matt Becker and everyone else plotting the course, there is unified understanding of what Aston Martin, without a deep-pocketed autopoiesis at its back, must be. No more 12-year product cycles as with the DB9. No more neophyte quirkiness in the product. The DB11’s new, 529-pound bonded-aluminum platform, a construction Aston excels at, will support future sports-car offerings, and in a mechanical sense is the framework for the company’s six-year business plan that calls for a wholly revamped, seven-car model lineup (including an SUV) by 2020. Add in special variants and stratospheric visions like the Adrian Newey-conceived, Formula 1-derived AM-RB 001, and you should expect something new from Gaydon approximately every nine months for years to come. This in a snapshot makes the DB11 the Most Important Aston Martin Ever, as we pegged it earlier this year.

At 186.57 inches, the car is just three quarters of an inch longer than the DB9, but a wheelbase stretched by 2.5-inches works with the new chassis architecture to expand the cockpit significantly. Six-foot-plus drivers and front-seat passengers enjoy more-than-generous leg- and shoulder-room. While the rear seats remain accommodating mostly to children and small adults, they will suffice for larger occupants on short journeys.

Beauty, both inside and out, remains Aston’s prime characteristic, Palmer affirms, and the hand-stitched cockpit leather provided by Scotland’s Bridge of Weir comes from cows raised on fields free of barbed wire. No nicks or lines that way, natch, and contrasting color visible through brogueing is a deft element. Optional carbon interior panels provide a random, chop-layered strand effect that’s more stone-like in appearance than traditional woven-fiber. It’s a look that makes bits of standard piano-black trim seem like out of place low-budget pieces by comparison.

No longer is it necessary to insert the hefty key fob into a dashboard slot to fire up the twin-scroll, twin-turbo V-12 via the start button. The all-new, in-house-developed engine—it shares only a few valvetrain parts with its predecessor—displaces 5.2 liters compared to the previous V-12’s 5.9, but sweats out 600 hp at 6,500 rpm, an 80-hp improvement. More relevant is the torque output and its curve, 516 lb-ft between 1,500 and 5,500 rpm compared to the previous 457 that came on in more peaky fashion.

At either partial or wide open throttle, the DB11 responds quickly, its reactions rarely, if ever, raising the cover on the forced induction occurring beneath the long hood. Rather than any perceived lag giving away the plot, it’s quite the opposite: normally aspirated V-12s traditionally need revs to deliver the goods, but the DB11’s mash-up of power and torque catapults the car down the tarmac unabated at any rpm, all the way to 200 mph, Aston says. Get “used to” sub-4.0-second blitzes to 60 mph, and even while firing away using the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transaxle’s manual-mode, you might find yourself upshifting a few hundred ticks short of the 7,000-rpm redline with no loss in performance. Keep the pedal stuck, however, and the cylinders continue to sing with little hint of accelerative drop-off.

The small reward is worth the extra, if not necessary, revolutions. This engine delivers cracking mid-range bang but not the same shower-scene scream as a non-turbo 12, and certainly not a note akin to the powerplants built 85 miles to the north in Maranello, so the only thing for a committed driver to do is pile on the revs. Even with windows down and gunning hard through tunnels, there is a calculated deepness to the tone that manages to satisfy while likely not offending less enthusiastic roadmates. Sport and Sport + modes improve the racket, while a quiet-start feature is intended to keep your neighbors happy in the morning. The latter seems unnecessary out here in Tuscany’s wide-open ranges, but gated-community residents might not concur, particularly when you push the start button at 6 a.m. on Monday.

2017 Aston Martin DB11 push start 2017 Aston Martin DB11 voice command controls 2017 Aston Martin DB11 instrument cluster gauge 2017 Aston Martin DB11 interior details

Shattering windows with sonic shockwaves isn’t the point of this car, anyway. The DB11 is a GT at its core, and it is comfortable and engaging rather than spine-rattling stiff. The front suspension remains a double-wishbone layout, but the same is gone in the rear, binned in favor of a multi-link design that delivers less longitudinal stiffness. The result is a well-damped ride over bumps and heaves while avoiding a setup that falls over itself as soon as you pitch into a corner, aided further by active torque vectoring. Barrel into a curve too hot and you might slide the front tires a bit, but the handling balance is indeed engaging, especially for a car pushing 4,000 pounds. It’s great fun to hustle the DB11 through strings of country-road sweepers that might see its significant mass coming at triple-digit speeds and think, “What the hell?” You’ll be long gone before they figure out what just happened.

Brake feel is outstanding and the pedal is well positioned for left-foot attacks. The automatic transmission responds adroitly in Sport mode, even when left to sort out downshifts for itself on aggressive corner approaches. One hundred miles into the drive, I find myself sticking to auto mode because the gearbox generally knows when to stretch the revs and when to blip its way down through the gears under braking, keeping the engine smack in the middle of its expansive powerband. One caveat: these are preproduction cars with some wonkiness to their software tuning, at times causing lazy or imprecise shifts and a very noticeable delay in response when coasting, say at 10 mph in second gear, and then jumping back on the throttle. There’s also a hint of gear whine. I expect Aston to sort this out before it delivers final-spec cars.

Some will bemoan the change to electric-power-assisted steering—the previous hydraulic system was magic in terms of feel—but the 13:1-ratio rack, the quickest yet in an Aston, is predictable and communicative.

2017 Aston Martin DB11 front three quarter in motion 2

Where the DB11 impresses me most is in the palpable but logical differences in performance each drive mode and suspension setting delivers. Toggle from GT to Sport to Sport + and there are clear changes to the throttle and transmission maps. The same goes for suspension and steering. But the revelation is not that the differences are obvious—plenty of cars provide the same—but instead how each one is useable and feels spot-on correct for this particular car. The difference between GT and Sport + is far from so wide as to render either a waste, with Aston electing to avoid things like, for example, dialing-in a magnitude of steering effort with no apparent benefit other than tiring your arms. Likewise the suspension damping, which changes from sporty comfort to notably better tied-down body control without jolting you silly. There’s little point in having a button you push once for a particular setting only to find, nope, no thanks, and never use it again in the real world. It’s the difference between “gimmick” and “useful function.”

It’s a difference anyone looking for a true luxury GT car will appreciate. There are faster cars and there are more luxurious cars, but the DB11 stakes claim to a different space. Call it a strong first salvo in Aston’s near-term game plan.

2017 Aston Martin DB11 Specifications

On Sale: November
Price: $214,820 (base)
Engine: 5.2L twin-turbo DOHC 48-valve V-12/600 hp, 516 lb-ft
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Layout: 2-door, 2+2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: N/A
L x W x H: 186.6 x 76.4 x 50.4 in
Wheelbase: 110.4 in
Weight: 3,900 lb (est)
0-60 MPH: 3.7 sec (est)
Top Speed: 200 mph
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Exclusive Interview with Aston Martin DB11 Development Boss Ian Minards http://www.automobilemag.com/news/exclusive-interview-aston-martin-db11-development-boss-ian-minards/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/exclusive-interview-aston-martin-db11-development-boss-ian-minards/#respond Thu, 04 Aug 2016 23:01:15 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=974992 Ian Minards began his career at Aston Martin in 1997 after stints at both Jaguar and working as an engineering consultant. He now serves as Aston Martin’s vice president and chief technical officer. We caught up with him to talk DB11, the marque’s new V-12 flagship. Automobile: What’s the timeline for the development and production...

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Ian Minards began his career at Aston Martin in 1997 after stints at both Jaguar and working as an engineering consultant. He now serves as Aston Martin’s vice president and chief technical officer. We caught up with him to talk DB11, the marque’s new V-12 flagship.

Automobile: What’s the timeline for the development and production of the DB11?

Ian Minards: On the engine, we began in 2012. The development of the actual car began around the middle of 2013. We are coming towards the end of the pre-production build phase now. We’ll be starting up production after the summer shutdown, [in September 2016].

AM: What were the challenges with DB11?

IM: The biggest challenge is that DB11 is an all-new car. So the glib answer is, everything! We started with a clean sheet of paper. There’s nothing carried over from DB9. The DB11 has been the biggest challenge for the company in over a decade and, arguably, the biggest challenge ever. Technology, legislative requirements, and customer requirements all move on. From the body structure through to the engine to the electrical architecture to occupant protection—everything had to be developed using a new set of components.

AM: Talk about the DB11’s chassis and its development.

IM: What the new chassis has in common with VH [the outgoing Aston Martin architecture] is the bill of process—how we assemble the car. It’s still a bonded, all-aluminum monocoque. We still use the same adhesive but every single casting, extrusion, and sheet of aluminum is brand new. The chassis is stiffer, lighter and it meets all current and future known vehicle crash-worthiness regulations.

The other trick of the DB11’s body structure is that it has some quite new innovations as far as the look of the car. We have this full, single-piece aluminum clamshell bonnet. There’s also the aero blade feature on the rear of the car. The DB11 features the longest aluminum door we’ve ever put on a car. So, as well as being stiff and lighter, it’s also incorporated all the design aesthetics that Marek [Reichman] and his team wanted to put on the car.

AM: Does the new chassis have a name?

IM: No. We deliberately haven’t [named it], actually. It is what it is. It’s just, new. VH was VH. VH is still great. We still make VH cars.

AM: Turbocharging is new for Aston Martin. How do you keep the Aston Martin engine character with a turbo engine?

IM: This is something we were very aware of. Maybe we’re blowing our own trumpet here but our current V-12 is fantastic in the way that it responds. We downsized the engine from 5.9 to 5.2 liters. We’ve kept the basic architectural layout of the engine the same—it’s still a 60-degree V-12. We were very careful choosing our turbochargers. They are twin-scroll turbos, which gives us the ability to spool the turbos quickly at low rpm and maintain their speed and pressure-charging capability at high rpm. They are also correctly sized for the engine—not too small and not too big.

One of our key targets was what we call, time to torque—the rate at which the turbochargers spool up and give us the forced induction. That was an important target for us on the dyno. Throttle progression and the way the throttle pedal is mapped was important. We have water-to-air charge coolers (intercoolers) with a very, very short intake path. The air comes out of the turbos, straight through the charge coolers and then straight into the intake manifold. There are no long, convoluted air intakes which would have been the case with air-to-air charge cooling.

2017 Aston Martin DB11 rear three quarter in motion 3

AM: Is the switch to turbocharging a direct result of the need to meet emissions and fuel economy standards?

IM: It’s not so much about emissions but, yes, it is about fuel economy. We also wanted to boost power. To really unleash the greater potential of a V-12 engine, pressure charging is what’s going to take it forward. And, yes, for sure downsizing and down-speeding is going to help our fuel economy. The fact that we’re pressure charging means we’re getting a lot more torque at lower engine rpm—we can down speed the whole engine drivetrain. We can run at lower engine speed in high gears because we have more torque. That basically is putting us at a place on the fuel economy map where we’re improving our fuel economy overall. More power with improved fuel economy is a win-win.

AM: Thinking about the DB9, what did you want to change or improve upon with the DB11?

IM: The first thing that we didn’t want to throw away was the fact that DB11 is a GT—it’s a true grand tourer. There are lots of great things about the DB9 that we didn’t want to lose—it’s effortless in its performance and has a great cruising ability. What we wanted to do with DB11 is dial some of those things up and have a broader breadth of character—to be even more comfortable as far as ride quality in the GT mode but it needs to be more sporting, too. We now have three modes in both the powertrain and the chassis—we have GT, Sport, and Sport +. The technology now enables us to give a broader character. So, the DB11 can be more comfortable than DB9 or sportier than DB9, depending on which mode you select. But we didn’t want DB11 to lose that GT refinement.

AM: What is Mercedes’ involvement with the DB11?

IM: The partnership with Mercedes on DB11 is purely around the electrical architecture. The engine in DB11 is pure Aston V-12. The electrical architecture that we’ve been able to take from Mercedes has been integrated into our car. We’ve taken the best of their architecture—their infotainment system, their security and locking system, etc. The basic core architecture was put in DB11 and we’ve given the customer state-of-the-art infotainment but we’ve customized the front end of things that you can see in the car. Yes, you’ll be able to associate the rotary controller with Mercedes. That’s great as it’s a world-class system but we’ve added unique Aston Martin details like our new instrument cluster and switchgear. So, we get the best of the basic capabilities of the electrical architecture and then we use our skillset to integrate add-ons to that like audio systems. We’re able to leverage [the Mercedes] test regime but we can customize it to the needs of our car.

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AM: What cars did you benchmark with the DB11?

IM: The whole range, to be honest. The DB11 has such a broad character that one day we might drive a turbo Porsche to understand what their turbocharging feels like. Same with a Ferrari California T and a Bentley Continental GT. We’ll look at a variety of cars. Sometimes it’s a more mundane car because there’s a particular feature that we want to look at on, say, the engine management system. So, there are the competitive benchmarks but there are also cars that wouldn’t be in the competitive bracket but we might pick something about that car that we like—a switch feel, a rear-view mirror technology.

AM: What are the key test and development facilities for the DB11?

IM: The one that really helps us out is MIRA in the U.K. We built a brand-new prototype workshop there where we’ve been able to build prototypes. MIRA is also useful as a test base. We can do things like high-speed durability up to a certain speed limit. Another key site is our Nurburgring test center. We are also using Nardo [in Italy] more and more. They have a mini ride and handling track that is well correlated to the Nordschleife. It works well when it’s a bit rainy and snowy in Germany. We still use Sweden for stability-control testing. We do cold environmental testing in Finland. We flew a car to Australia in early 2016 for some air-conditioning work. Death Valley is another favorite haunt of ours. There is also IDIADA in Spain for stability-control work and hot environmental testing calibration.

AM: What has Andy Palmer’s coming on board as CEO at Aston Martin done in relation to your development team?

IM: Andy is a car guy, amongst many of his talents. He likes to drive the cars. We’ve had him in the cars and he tells us what he likes and doesn’t like. He’s very hands on. That’s a great strength for a CEO. He gets involved. I really value that. Plus, there are other new members of the team like [vehicle attribute engineering boss] Matt Becker. Matt and Andy have a great relationship. If Andy says to Matt that he wants this and that, then Matt can understand and translate it. There is only a small group of people at Aston who effectively control the attribute balance of the car. We don’t have to have endless meetings on what we want the car to be. We can just sit down over a coffee, drive the cars for an afternoon, and then say how we want to take it in a certain direction. That’s another beauty of working at Aston Martin.

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Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT8 and V12 Vantage S Track Drive http://www.automobilemag.com/news/aston-martin-vantage-v8-gt8-v12s-track-drive/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/aston-martin-vantage-v8-gt8-v12s-track-drive/#respond Wed, 20 Jul 2016 10:00:04 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=967345 NURBURG, Germany — This is not the infamous Nordschleife Green Hell, but the tarred, broad catwalk that is Nürburgring’s Grand Prix track. We’re here with the all-new Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT8 in green-and-lime flavor and an orange-over-white V12 Vantage S. Both were born in the surrounding Eifel Mountains where Aston Martin’s deputy R&D chief Wolfgang...

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NURBURG, Germany  This is not the infamous Nordschleife Green Hell, but the tarred, broad catwalk that is Nürburgring’s Grand Prix track. We’re here with the all-new Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT8 in green-and-lime flavor and an orange-over-white V12 Vantage S. Both were born in the surrounding Eifel Mountains where Aston Martin’s deputy R&D chief Wolfgang Schuhbauer honed the limited-edition models.

The V8 Vantage GT8 is, according to Herr Schuhbauer, “a focused track tool which makes it very clear that performance is its top priority.” Every time you blip the throttle, its engine seems to catch a whiff of dirty air, triggering a vulgar misfire. Lift off the accelerator at high revs, and a plume of fire spits from the exhaust. With the lubricants lukewarm, the V-8’s full-throttle decibel assault borders on painful. “We’re not quite done yet with the fine tuning,” says Schuhbauer, grinning from ear to ear. In the GT8, you are strapped into devil-black racing buckets; in the V12 S, driver and passenger benefit from wider, less radically contoured seats trimmed with Sunkist accents.

The V12 Vantage S’s stubby suede-wrapped shift lever connects to a dogleg seven-speed manual gearbox built by Graziano. Movements are speedy and short, the feedback is reassuring, and the double H-gate is less of a haptic jigsaw than the complex shift pattern suggests. The Pirelli P Zero tires warm up quickly, have a wide window of grip, and their breakaway behavior is predictable.

The same can’t be said for the GT8’s shaved, hard-compound Michelin Pilot Sport Cups, which can scare you witless. The GT8 is a colt that has never before felt saddle and bridle—its equipped with harder springs, stiffer dampers, tauter bushings, more aggressive brakes and almost as much carbon-fiber wing work as a Le Mans car—and is best treated with iron hands in velvet gloves to avoid any unexpected understeer scrubs or snap-oversteer situations. The V12 S, in turn, is anything but erratic.

Radically different characters separate these two seemingly similar stablemates. “We wanted to move these two models as far apart as possible,” explains Schuhbauer. “That´s why they look different and feel different.” For example, the rack-and-pinion steering chosen by Aston Martin for the GT8 works in perfect harmony with the suspension tuning and unequal-diameter anti-roll bars when you’re on a road course, but it has androgynous response on the road. The V12 S, on the other hand, avoids sharp edges and enhanced efforts in favor of lighter, more fluent engagement. The GT8 has that silly steamhammer exhaust, and the quieter V12 S plays its no-less-catchy tunes softly but just as well.

Brakes on both Astons are of the drilled and ventilated kind, with truck-size steel rotors on the GT8 and even larger carbon-ceramic kit on the V12 S; both are physically impressive systems, prompt yet progressive. The GT8’s lighter, slimmer, and higher-revving 4.7-liter V-8 produces 446 hp at 7,300 rpm, which is just about all you can can squeeze out of the old aluminum lady. The more vocal, mammoth 6.0-liter V-12 produces an even more impressive 573 hp at 6,750 rpm. Both are expressively garish, but understatement is conspicuous by its absence on the GT8, what with the fixed rear wing and low-flying triple-decker front spoiler.

Regardless of which variant speaks more to your soul, you wonder why one would spend a lot of money on a virtually evolution-free, eight-year-old sports car haunted by a list of well-documented flaws. The answer is quite simply “because;” the Vantage design has aged remarkably well, and the naturally aspirated engines of both cars have plenty of that musical olde-worlde magic. If you’re in the market for a track-focused plaything, try and find one of 150 sold-out GT8s, a police magnet that can draw crowds with its carbon-fiber badges that cost $1,700 each. For a better balanced and more forgiving Aston that isn’t as into hooliganism, there’s the V12 Vantage S. Or put your name down for the Vantage replacement that’ll be out at the tail end of next year.

2017 Aston Martin Vantage GT8 Specifications

On Sale: Now (Not for sale in North America)
Price: £165,000 ($217,000)(base)
Engine: 4.7L DOHC 32-valve V-8/440 hp @ 7,300 rpm, 361 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual; 7-speed automated manual
Layout: 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: N/A
L x W x H: 178.7 x 75.7 x 49.5 in
Wheelbase: 102.4 in
Weight: 3,329 lb (est)
0-60 MPH: 4.4 seconds (est)
Top Speed: 190 mph (est)

2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Specifications

On Sale: Now
Price: $202,820 (base)
Engine: 5.9L DOHC 48-valve V-12/563 hp @ 6,650 rpm, 457 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed manual; 7-speed automated manual
Layout: 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: 12/18 mpg (city/highway)
L x W x H: 172.6 x 73.4 x 49.2 in
Wheelbase: 102.4 in
Weight: 3,671 lb
0-60 MPH: 3.8 seconds (est)
Top Speed: 205 mph

 

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Aston Martin CEO to Personally Inspect First 1,000 DB11 Models http://www.automobilemag.com/news/aston-martin-ceo-personally-inspect-first-1000-db11s/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/aston-martin-ceo-personally-inspect-first-1000-db11s/#respond Fri, 15 Jul 2016 13:30:16 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=967683 Earlier this week, Matthew Phenix, editor for BBC Autos, tweeted out that Aston Martin’s CEO would personally inspect the first 1,000 DB11 models to roll off the production line. The announcement sparked plenty of conversation, with people questioning if this was actually going to happen. Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer later confirmed the Twitter announcement,...

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Earlier this week, Matthew Phenix, editor for BBC Autos, tweeted out that Aston Martin’s CEO would personally inspect the first 1,000 DB11 models to roll off the production line. The announcement sparked plenty of conversation, with people questioning if this was actually going to happen.

Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer later confirmed the Twitter announcement, saying, “I will personally inspect the first 1,000 customer cars. About 12 cars a day starting at 6pm until they are done daily.” This isn’t something that’s common in the industry, and it shows Palmer’s dedication to his customers and products.

With the confirmation, Twitter seemed to blow up with comments, including one from Ed Callow, who said, “No idea when he gets up in the morning, but sounds like he’s going to have about 30 mins sleep for the first 83 days.” Palmer even jumped on the comedic bandwagon, following up with “maybe I’ll sleep at xmas.”

According to the automaker’s design chief Marek Reichman, the all-new 2017 Aston Martin DB11 is “the most beautiful DB car in the history of Aston Martin.” The DB11, which replaces the DB9, features a brand-new 5.2-liter V-12 engine with twin-scroll turbochargers that will deliver 600 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque.

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Rare 2016 Aston Martin Vulcan Going to Auction http://www.automobilemag.com/news/rare-2016-aston-martin-vulcan-going-auction/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/rare-2016-aston-martin-vulcan-going-auction/#respond Sun, 10 Jul 2016 19:00:42 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=966109 An ultra-exclusive 2016 Aston Martin Vulcan is being offered for sale by Mecum Auctions next month. The track-only car is build number 11 of just 24 examples built by the storied British automaker. Power for the Vulcan comes from a naturally aspirated 7.0-liter V-12 built by Aston Marin Racing. and is rated at 820 hp....

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An ultra-exclusive 2016 Aston Martin Vulcan is being offered for sale by Mecum Auctions next month. The track-only car is build number 11 of just 24 examples built by the storied British automaker.

Power for the Vulcan comes from a naturally aspirated 7.0-liter V-12 built by Aston Marin Racing. and is rated at 820 hp. Power is transmitted to an Xtrac paddle-shifted, rear-mounted six-speed sequential transaxle via a carbon fiber driveshaft. Claimed top speed is north of 200 mph.

The chassis is based around the road going Aston Martin One-77 supercar’s carbon fiber tub built by Multimatic. It also features an integrated FIA-legal steel roll cage and rear subframe. The driveshaft is housed in a lightweight magnesium torque tube.

The suspension consists of a four-way adjustable pushrod double wishbone with adjustable sway bars at both ends. Stopping power comes from Brembo carbon ceramic discs and an adjustable Bosch ABS system. Power is transmitted to the pavement by forged alloy, center-locking wheels (19×11.5-inch front, 19×12.5-inch rear) wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires (305/30-19 front, 345/30-19).

Inside, Recaro supplies a set of full carbon fiber race seats with Schroth six-point racing harnesses. Other race bits include an adjustable AP Racing Pedal box, adjustable steering column, bespoke carbon fiber steering wheel with integrated vehicle controls, a Cosworth dash and data acquisition system, and more.

Aerodynamic bits include a front splitter, rear splitter, and large adjustable rear wing. Other exterior details include LED headlights and futuristic ‘Light Blade’ lamps in the rear, and IsoClima Polycarbonate windows. There is also a set of on-board air jacks.

The car features an unspecified purple hue on the exterior over a black interior. The number 11 Aston Martin Vulcan will go to auction Saturday August in Monterey. Check out Mecum Auctions for more images of the track-only British supercar.

2016 Aston Martin Vulcan via Mecum Auctions rear three quarter

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See Why You Need Nerves of Steel to be a Grand Tour Videographer http://www.automobilemag.com/news/see-why-you-need-nerves-of-steel-to-be-a-grand-tour-videographer/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/see-why-you-need-nerves-of-steel-to-be-a-grand-tour-videographer/#respond Thu, 07 Jul 2016 18:36:53 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=965227 As the rebooted Top Gear ends its first season with Chris Evans’ departure bombshell, the original trio of Clarkson, Hammond, and May are doing even more prep work for their new Amazon Prime show, The Grand Tour. We’ve already been given hints at what the three best blokes on television have been up to with the trio...

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As the rebooted Top Gear ends its first season with Chris Evans’ departure bombshell, the original trio of Clarkson, Hammond, and May are doing even more prep work for their new Amazon Prime show, The Grand Tour.

We’ve already been given hints at what the three best blokes on television have been up to with the trio tweeting while on location, or doing Facebook Live videos from their office, but we haven’t seen the shenanigans that we’ve all come to know, love, and expect from them while they create brilliant content, until now.

When producing gorgeously shot videos that have a habit of blurring the lines between entertainment and artwork, those involved in the making of the video have a habit of pushing the boundaries and safety. Recently, on Jeremy Clarkson’s Facebook page, the Brit uploaded a “behind the scenes” video shot by one of the camera crew while filming an upcoming segment.

The video itself starts pretty innocuously, but about five seconds in, both Clarkson driving the new DB11, and Hammond, driving a Hellcat come drifting in a mere foot or so from the camera car’s front bumper. It is a truly fantastic shot purely from the inside of the camera car, but we can’t wait to see what it looks like with the actual cameras rolling when the show finally premieres this fall.

The Grand Tour will begin in South Africa, but Amazon also recently revealed that there would also be additional live studio recordings in the UK, the US, and Germany, and that each studio location would be “housed within a giant tent.” More locations will be added as the series progresses, and fans will be able to attend tapings after each city is announced.

Who’s ready for their ex-Top Gear fix?

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Watch the 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Attempt 205 MPH on Ignition http://www.automobilemag.com/news/watch-the-2017-aston-martin-v12-vantage-s-attempt-205-mph-on-ignition/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/watch-the-2017-aston-martin-v12-vantage-s-attempt-205-mph-on-ignition/#respond Tue, 05 Jul 2016 18:31:51 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=964115 Now in its last year, the 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S is the accumulation of the best bits available over its 11-year model history. On this episode of “Ignition,” host Jason Cammisa finds out how well those parts play together. Power for the two-seat sports coupe comes from the British automaker’s naturally aspirated 5.9-liter...

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Now in its last year, the 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S is the accumulation of the best bits available over its 11-year model history. On this episode of “Ignition,” host Jason Cammisa finds out how well those parts play together.

Power for the two-seat sports coupe comes from the British automaker’s naturally aspirated 5.9-liter V-12 pumping out 563 hp and 457-lb-ft of torque. For 2017, the V12 Vantage S gains a new seven-speed dogleg manual transmission making it the only V-12-powered car available with a manual transmission. While a dogleg transmission may not be the best design for the quickest acceleration sprints from a dead stop, it keeps the gears most used on the race track together.

With its close-ratio gears, the small coupe hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds at 121.6 mph. It stopped from 60 mph in 114 feet. On the track, the V12 Vantage S has lots of oversteer that Cammisa likens to an overpowered Mazda Miata. The British sports car lapped the figure-eight in 24.3 seconds at 0.83 g average and pulled 0.97 g average around the skidpad.

After flogging the V12 Vantage S around the racetrack, Cammisa heads to a dry lake bed to see if he can hit the claimed top speed of 205 mph. Check out the video below to see Cammisa’s conclusion on the 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S.

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http://www.automobilemag.com/news/watch-the-2017-aston-martin-v12-vantage-s-attempt-205-mph-on-ignition/feed/ 0 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Manual Tested on Ignition (W/Video) - Automobile Now in its last year, the 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S is the accumulation of the best bits available over its 11-year model history. On this episode of “Ignition,” host Jason Cammisa finds out how well those parts play together. Power for the two-seat sports coupe comes from the British automake 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S center stack
Aston Martin and Red Bull’s AM-RB 001 is the Next Hybrid Hypercar http://www.automobilemag.com/news/aston-martin-red-bulls-rb-001-next-hybrid-hypercar/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/aston-martin-red-bulls-rb-001-next-hybrid-hypercar/#respond Tue, 05 Jul 2016 15:33:38 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=963617 In the 1990s, the McLaren F1 reset the benchmark for road car performance. It stormed to 60 mph from a standing start in just 3.2 seconds, to 120 mph in 9.2 seconds. On Volkswagen’s epic Ehra-Lessien test track, it reached a top speed of 243 mph. For a sports car that accelerated to 150 mph...

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In the 1990s, the McLaren F1 reset the benchmark for road car performance. It stormed to 60 mph from a standing start in just 3.2 seconds, to 120 mph in 9.2 seconds. On Volkswagen’s epic Ehra-Lessien test track, it reached a top speed of 243 mph. For a sports car that accelerated to 150 mph in the same time it took a Porsche 911 to hit 100 mph; that in sixth gear zoomed from 180 mph to 200 mph in less time than a Ferrari 512TR needed to go from 50 mph to 70 mph in fifth, the term supercar no longer seemed adequate. The McLaren F1 was the first hypercar.

Aston Martin AM RB rear three quarters

Now, some 20 years later, another storied British brand steeped in performance, Aston Martin, is planning to build what it says will be “the hypercar of our time.” Meet the Aston Martin AM-RB 001. The prosaic moniker belies an extraordinary concept with an astounding performance target: a road car that will deliver race-car levels of acceleration, cornering and braking. “We’re talking an F1 car in race trim, not qualifying trim,” hastens Aston Martin marketing communications chief Simon Sproule. OK, consider our expectations managed.

The McLaren F1 was the brainchild of rock-star Formula 1 designer, Gordon Murray, who worked for the Brabham and McLaren teams. The driving force behind the AM-RB 001 is another rock-star Formula 1 designer, Adrian Newey, creator of Formula 1 championship-winning cars for Williams, McLaren, and, most recently, Red Bull Racing.

Aston Martin AM RB front

That explains the RB part of the new car’s name. But why the AM, Aston Martin? Synchronicity. Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer had been mulling a hypercar project to boost the brand’s profile (and keep investors happy) in the lull between the end of DB9 production and the rollout of the new DB11. Palmer and Sproule, who both formerly worked at Nissan, had come to know the Red Bull Racing operation after Infiniti became a team sponsor in 2011. They were intrigued to discover Newey, who in 2014 stepped down from front-line work with the Red Bull F1 team to head Red Bull Advanced Technologies, was also thinking about designing an extreme sports car.

Aston Martin AM RB Wheel detail

The McLaren F1 was famously conceived in an airport lounge while Murray and McLaren race team executives Ron Dennis, Mansour Ojjeh, and Creighton Brown awaited a delayed flight after the Italian Grand Prix in 1988. History will record the AM-RB 001 was born in January 2016 over a sausage-and-mash lunch in a pub near Woburn Abbey, just north of London, attended by Palmer, Sproule, Newey, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, and Aston Martin design chief Marek Reichman.

The concept model is about 95 percent the final design. “Both Marek and Adrian had been sketching cars independently,” says Sproule, “and when you put both together they looked remarkably similar.” At least they did on the surface: The AM-RB 001’s secret sauce, the key to achieving its eye-popping performance target, is the Newey-designed aerodynamic package hidden underneath. The AM-RB 001 is basically a ground-effects car, its radically sculpted floor higher off the road than the body sides. What at first glance looks to be a grille up front is merely a giant opening to funnel onrushing air into tunnels along either side of the cockpit.

Aston Martin AM RB rear

The first running prototype is a year away; the first production car is due in late 2018. In the meantime, Newey is honing the AM-RB 001’s final design on the Red Bull race-car development simulator, benchmarking it against a rich vein of incredibly detailed and carefully calibrated performance data from the Formula 1 team. Just 99 road cars are planned, along with up to 20 more extreme race versions. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it, but for the record the ultimate Aston Martin is expected to sell for about $3.2 million.

 

  • Hybrid RWD powertrain: The internal combustion engine will be a new, bespoke, naturally aspirated V-12 of between 6.0 and 7.0 liters, supplemented by an electric motor charged by a KERS system. Total system output should be more than 1,000 hp.

 

  • Lightweight construction: The entire car will be constructed from ultra-lightweight materials, including carbon fiber and titanium. The target power-to-weight ratio is 1 horsepower per kilogram (2.2 pounds), about the same as a Hennessey Venom GT or Koenigsegg One:1, which means a total weight of 2,200 pounds.

 

Aston Martin AM RB side

 

  • Transmission: The rear wheels will be driven via a semi-automatic eight-speed sequential shift transmission.

 

  • Ground effects: What at first glance appears to be a conventional grille is actually a massive vent that ducts air over a radically shaped floor. The front of the floor is as high as the opening’s top lip and then swells outward like a boat hull as it drops down around the cabin before tapering tightly toward the rear of the car. Huge venturis on either side will promote downforce.

 

  • Variable ride height: The final suspension specification has yet to be decided but will feature F1-style streamlined suspension links front and rear, plus an adjustable ride-height function to allow the car to be driven on normal roads and deliver ultimate grip on the track.

 

Aston Martin AM RB rear three quarters top

 

  • Blown rear spoiler: The final placement and number of exhaust outlets are still to be determined, but burned gases will exit through the top surface of the car and will be used to blow the rear spoiler, increasing downforce.

 

  • Two-seater: The snug cockpit will have room for two, with side-by-side seating. A seating buck has been built around the current dimensions, but cabin width might be increased slightly for production. The aerodynamic floor means the occupants will be reclined, with their feet raised higher than usual.

 

  • Performance: The AM-RB 001 will not be as fast in a straight line as the forthcoming Bugatti Chiron, which is expected to top 275 mph. The focus will be on track lap times, so expect a 0-60 mph in about 2.5 seconds, plus sustained lateral grip and braking in excess of 2 g.

By Jake Armfield

Aston Martin AM RB and F1 Car Aston Martin AM RB Wheel detail Aston Martin AM RB top Aston Martin AM RB side Aston Martin AM RB rear Aston Martin AM RB rear three quarters Aston Martin AM RB rear three quarters top Aston Martin AM RB front Aston Martin AM RB front three quarters

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Catching Up With Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer http://www.automobilemag.com/news/catching-aston-martin-ceo-andy-palmer/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/catching-aston-martin-ceo-andy-palmer/#respond Mon, 27 Jun 2016 20:28:23 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=961397 Before he drove the all-new 2018 Aston Martin DB11 up the hill at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin Lagonda, filled us in on what he’s been up to and what he’s looking forward to in the not-so-distant future. AM: Let’s get this out of the way: How does...

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Before he drove the all-new 2018 Aston Martin DB11 up the hill at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin Lagonda, filled us in on what he’s been up to and what he’s looking forward to in the not-so-distant future.

AM: Let’s get this out of the way: How does Aston Martin feel about the U.K. deciding to leave the EU?

AP: We took a strong stance of neutrality. You probably saw a lot of car companies telling their staff to remain, but we said, “This is all the information we have and this is our analysis of it,” but stayed neutral and let our people decide. … They decided. That’s fine. We all decided. It’s done. We’re out. Time to get on with shit. There’s no point in looking backwards. It’s done, and we just need to get on with it. The world didn’t fall in, Thursday wasn’t much different from Friday, and the drop came back a bit. Weak pound, good for exports. Longer term means we need to figure out what the renegotiation means … whether tariffs exist or don’t exist. I can’t control that stuff. All I can do is react to it. And because we’re independent and because we’re small, my job is to react to it just like anyone else.

AM: How’s the Newey­-designed AM-RB 001 coming along? Word is we’ll see it soon.

AP: It’s jaw-dropping. We needed, and always need, a halo car, something that is aspirational, something that people can hook onto and say, “OK, now I start to get Aston.” They tend to go, “Aston, that’s Bond’s car” or “Aston, they go racing,” but that’s not the whole story. There’s a handcrafted authenticity that we need to capture. What Vulcan does, what the Red Bull car does, is create that thing that helps you explain your brand so you can sell the rest of these things.

Aston Martin DB11 front three quarter

AM: Will a product derived from AM-RB 001 make it to market?

AP: I have an aspiration to make a mid-engine sports car. So it’s a mid-engine car, so we’re learning that. We’ve fundamentally not put a mid-engine car into production before. You can see hints of aerodynamics in [the DB11], but obviously you’re going to learn a whole bunch of stuff working with Adrian Newey. Some of the technology, some of the lightweight materials move [beyond] even where we were, and we’re far ahead of the general market. And just dealing with somebody that is so focused, it pushes you into things you didn’t think were possible.

AM: Will you push until a mid-engine production car comes to life?

AP: My goal, dream, aspiration, whatever you want to call it, which implies I don’t have a way of getting it there yet, is that we should have a mid-engine Aston. Top of the core lineup.

AM: Does AM-RB 001 coming to life mean the Vulcan dies?

2016 Aston Martin Vulcan front three quarter in motion 04 1

AP: Exactly right. We did it as a styling exercise, and you’ll see hints of that car in our future cars. We did it from an unconstrained engineering point of view, and we did it to create some buzz and get people excited. It’s about putting the brand back in people’s mind. If they’re in the buying process for a Ferrari or Lambo, Aston Martin then naturally goes into that list.

AM: How do you feel about Aston Martin’s current momentum?

AP: What we’ve done in the last 18 months … create noise with the specials that remind people what the brand stands for and develop the new platform [used on the DB11]. Obviously this is one car, but this platform will be used for other cars. You’ve got the Vantage coming, the Vanquish, and then of course you have the DBX. All our efforts are about making the current business support bringing those products to market and see that the story and dealership network make them successful when they come to market.

AM: Where is the DBX going to slot into the marketplace?

AP: It’s in the SUV market. Our execution, I would argue, is not an SUV/crossover, but it’s in there. Today there is only the Bentley Bentayga. Other cars are coming, like a Rolls-Royce. We slot in there, but our major competitor is the Bentley.

AM: What will set the DBX apart from its competitors? Sportiness or … ?

Aston Martin DBX concept front three quarter studio

AP: Beauty. We’re here for the love of beautiful. That’s our mantra. Beautiful cars, beautiful engineering, beautiful execution, beautiful hand-craftsmanship—we’re here for the love of beautiful.

AM: Word is the next Aston Martin is going to get some version of the V-12 that’s in the DB11—true?

AP: You can expect the next Vanquish to use a tuned version of the current assets, so … I don’t know if we’ve formerly put it out there, but you can imagine we’re not going to develop another engine so we’ll use the assets we have.

AM: Did AMG have any hand in developing the twin-turbocharged V-12 engine?

AP: All the V-12 is us. We have a V-8 coming, and it’s obviously from AMG, but we wanted to keep the heart of the company our own.

AM: How do you see your relationship with AMG?

AP: What’s really important in that relationship are the electrical systems, because we have wonderful advanced technology but not technology that everyone might understand, like bonding carbon fiber and aluminum in a low-bake environment. It’s extremely cutting-edge, but what people see is the tech. What the relationship with Daimler brings us is the tech, and we can choose. We’ll be the last people to go down the route of autonomous cars, but everything in between basically we can plug and play into the electrical system.

AM: Like the new active aero underbody system from the all-new Mercedes-AMG GT R?

AP: Those are things you can … anything that plugs into the electrical system fundamentally we can have access to. Big car companies are spending billions each year to develop those technologies, and we simply don’t have that capability and bandwidth and money to do that, but we can have access for where it fits the brand. For me, that’s a real game-changer.

AM: When will we see Aston Martin make real moves toward hybrids and EVs?

Aston Martin RapidE concept front three quarter 01

AP: Later on hybrid; earlier on EV. The reason is we embrace our V-12 and we don’t want to lose it, but you can’t downsize a V-12 significantly. Therefore, you need to create an equal and opposite, and that is our EV. And if you downsize, you lose the soul of an engine. Imagine an inline-four in an Aston. Whereas with an EV, you can create a different soul with huge acceleration, huge torque, and silence. For me, that sort of fits better with the brand than hybridization of downsized engines.

AM: How are you feeling since, you know, you’re about to race an all-new DB11 at Goodwood Festival of Speed?

AP: The car goes into production on the 22nd of August; deliveries start in October. This is the first dynamic showing of the car. How could you not be excited?

AM: Well, it’s raining.

AP: Well, that makes it all the more exciting.

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