From the DB9 to the Vantage—and of course to its vintage models—Aston Martin is best known for its front-engine cars. But for the Valkyrie hypercar, Aston Martin decided to stick its 6.5-liter V-12 behind the driver. If you thought the British automaker was only temporarily dabbling with mid-engine cars, though, you’d be very wrong. Not only will the Vanquish go mid-engine, the sports-car maker’s also working on a new hybrid hypercar called the AM-RB 003. (By the time 003 goes to production, there’s a chance Aston Martin will give it a different name, maybe even one starting with V.)
And if you see a lot of the Valkyrie in the AM-RB 003’s styling, that’s intentional. As Miles Nurnberger, Aston Martin’s head of design, put it in a release, “We were quite deliberate with Project 003 to not disguise its lineage, but we were equally emphatic that it would be a distillation of Aston Martin Valkyrie and not a dilution.” Even though Project 003 looks a lot like the Valkyrie, it gets its own next-generation active aero kit with a flexible wing that sounds similar to that of the McLaren Speedtail. Instead of moving the entire wing, individual areas can be adjusted to reduce turbulence and wind noise, improve efficiency, and minimize drag.
Inside, you’ll notice the car’s cabin is larger than that of the Valkyrie. Aston says that was done to improve both usability and comfort. Those are also cited as reasons why designers rejected the Valkyrie’s gullwing doors in favor of more practical forward-opening ones, as well as the inclusion of room behind the seats to store luggage.
The entire cabin’s design is still built around the driver, though. The steering wheel is almost the sole focal point, with very nearly every physical control located there. And instead of an infotainment system, there’s an integrated mount for a phone or tablet. Advanced lightweight materials and 3-D printing also allowed designers to remove about 50 percent of the center console’s mass.
Power comes from a new turbocharged V-6 that Aston Martin designed in-house. Expect more powertrain details to be announced later, but Aston boss Andy Palmer promises the car will “more than compete” with hybrid hypercar benchmarks such as the Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari LaFerrari in the power department. That could mean the turbo V-6 will be supplemented by a significant electric boost. We also know AM-RB 003 will use the Vulcan’s sealed oil system that allows you to change the oil in as little as 90 seconds, and Aston says the chassis and bodywork are made from carbon fiber to keep the car’s weight as low as possible. And even though it’s been built to dominate the race track, an adaptive suspension should make 003 a usable road car, as well.
Hopefully, Aston Martin will announce more details at Project 003’s Geneva motor show debut. But if not, there is plenty of time for specs to be announced, since AM-RB 003 isn’t scheduled to begin production until late 2021.