All posts in “Aston Martin”

Aston Martin DBS 770 Ultimate is a little more powerful, different looking

Aston Martin is bringing this iteration of the DBS sports car to a close, so of course it’s doing so with one more special edition: the DBS 770 Ultimate. It is one of the most powerful versions of the car, and has a selection of unique features. And like so many other special high-end sports cars, every example has been sold.

The headlining feature of the 770 is its extra power. It makes 759 horsepower, 44 more than the standard version, and basically the same as the DBS GT Zagato. Torque remains the same, though. A tweaked intake and ignition system plus 7% more boost pressure is responsible for the extra power. Top speed has not increased, though, sticking to 211 mph.

There are other light upgrades both performance-wise and design-wise. Additional vents have been added to the hood and a new splitter added to the front; both modifications are meant to improve cooling. More carbon fiber trim on the outside along with side sills, a diffuser, and unique wheels make it look more aggressive. The steering column has solid mounts for better steering feel. The front end is 25% stiffer than before, and the whole car is stiffer by 3% thanks to a redesigned front subframe and rear undertray. The transmission and adaptive suspension have been retuned, too. But it has the same carbon ceramic brakes and mechanical limited-slip differential as the regular car.

The interior gets some attention, too. The standard seats are Sports Plus units with more aggressive ones available. A special strap and buckle have been added to the center console. Of course, the interior and the exterior can be further customized with different colors, materials, graphics and more.

As previously mentioned, every DBS 770 Ultimate has already been sold. Only 499 will be built, 300 of which are coupes and 199 are convertibles. Aston didn’t give a price, which is understandable when it’s not even really on sale in a traditional way. But we’re sure each one will go for a fair premium over a standard model. Production starts soon, with deliveries coming in the third quarter of this year.

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Refreshed Aston Martin DB11 appears in spy photos

At nearly 7 years old, the Aston Martin DB11 is starting to show its age, so it makes sense that we’d see at least an updated version like the one in these spy photos. They show a thinly disguised coupe, and the design revisions are pretty minimal, too. But they should come with some useful upgrades under the new body.

The front fascia is really about all that’s changed on this car. The front grille is much larger, extending farther down and farther to each side than on the current DB11. The old slatted grille is gone, too, in favor of a very large egg-crate mesh. It looks as though the headlights may be updated, too, but it’s a bit difficult to tell for sure. As for the rest of the car, it’s pretty much identical to the current car.

This is all in keeping with the report last February that the entire Aston Martin lineup would be updated, and not just stylistically. Powertrain updates are apparently coming, with hybrids on the horizon. Nothing on this car indicates it’s a hybrid, though, and the hybrids are probably another year out. Odds are, we’ll see more powerful versions of the base AMG twin-turbo 4.0L V8 and the Aston twin-turbo 5.2L V12 first. Additionally, updated infotainment systems and interior upgrades will be reportedly be part of the refresh.

Last year’s report said the updated Astons would be launching this year. This prototype does look very close to production-ready, so that timeline still seems likely. And with it being Aston’s 110th anniversary, it’s a great time to start rolling out fresher product.

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Aston Martin will celebrate 110 years with a special car

Aston Martin turns 110 this year, and of course it’s going to celebrate the way any car company would: creating a special car. But this is, presumably, not the Aston Martin DBS 770 that was teased just recently.

Unfortunately, what this special Aston is, is wide open for speculation. With Aston’s anniversary announcement, it gave absolutely no details nor even a shaded teaser image. And the time frame is “later this year.”

So let’s speculate. Certainly a way to really wow fans and wealthy customers with a special anniversary car would be to do a version of the company’s halo car, the Valkyrie. After all, it’s so important that Aston used it in the anniversary announcement photos along with the 1923 Razor Blade race car. Maybe it’ll be a higher-output Valkyrie with extra slippery body work as a throwback to the Razor Blade. Or not! Like we said, it could be almost anything.

And in trying to narrow down a reveal date, there are a few key events for supercar builders to reveal machinery. The first would be the Geneva Motor Show, which is sort of happening this year. It’s being run by the same organizers, but the location is in Qatar. Then in the summer is the Goodwood Festival of Speed. If the car hasn’t been revealed before then or during, it would be a great opportunity for Aston to run a camouflaged version of the car up the hill.

At the very least, we’re sure we’ll see this special Aston no later than the Pebble Beach Concours. And with how the show effectively turned into the successor to the Geneva show last year, it would be a great location, as well as about the last big wealthy car show of the year, if it isn’t shown sooner.

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Aston Martin Valhalla interior debuted in Monterey

Aston Martin began releasing estimated specs for the Valhalla supercar last summer. The figures described the thoroughly overhauled car, redrawn with just as dramatic yet smoother lines than the original concept from 2019, and repowered with a plug-in hybrid V8 sourced from technical partner Mercedes-Benz instead of the in-house straight-6. The quick summary describes a mid-mounted 740-horsepower flat-plane-crank V8 with an e-motor in back and another in front contributing 201 horsepower. The front electric motor can pull the coupe for up to eight miles of pure electric running, reversing is also done under electric power, not via the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Curb weight of 3,417 pounds pairs with a top speed of 217 miles per hour, the firm hoping its charge can lap the ‘Ring in 6:30, which would be a record for a production car. Deliveries are expected to commence toward the end of next year.

We still hadn’t seen the inside of the car last summer, though. Aston Martin finally lifted the dihedral doors on the show inside during the recent Monterey Car Week. Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman described the cockpit as being “pure,” “about driver focus” and “concentration,” and “dedicated to the mastery of driving.” So despite an exterior update that injected “a more mature” road-going road ambience into the Valhalla’s silhouette, the cabin makes strong ties to the F1-inspired and track-consuming Valkyrie. These are seats that emphasize the “bucket” in “bucket seats,” supporting driver and passenger such that their heels lie above the level of their hips. The driver grabs a square wheel that’s jettisoned the central display in the Valkyrie’s square wheel. In fact, for those decrying the explosion of screens lately, here is your safe space. A slim rectangle ahead of the driver serves as dash display, and the infotainment screen can be hidden away, which it is in the short Twitter vid. We can see it staying stowed more often than not, in fact. Even if the V8 doesn’t pour its 7,200-rpm flat-plane note into the cabin — along with roof scoop inhalations and rubber-band-thin Michelin thrumming — the passenger quarters cannot be the kindest space to design a stereo for.

We’d been wondering about the production run, Autocar suspects Aston Martin won’t make more than 1,000 examples of the Valhalla. The potential good news for the few who’ll get to own it is that the carmaker might have reduced the price; Autocar heard that instead of costing somewhere around £1 million ($1.3M U.S.), MSRP could fall somewhere between £600,000 ($725,866 U.S.) and £700,000 ($846,844 U.S.).

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Aston Martin DBR22 is a retro roadster for the lucky few

It’s Pebble Beach Concours week, and you know what that means: high-end automakers showing new exotic machinery. Kicking things off is the Aston Martin DBR22. Aston calls it a concept, but that’s more of a stretch than Honda with its “prototype” car reveals. The company has said it will build some. The exact number hasn’t been given, but don’t expect many. The company highlighted a couple of its previous special models such as the Vulcan and V600, each of which were made in numbers below 30 units.

The car is more specifically from Aston’s “bespoke” division, Q, and it’s a celebration of the division’s tenth anniversary. It takes its design inspiration from far longer ago, though. The DBR22’s dramatic curves, lack of a windshield and towering cowls are all based on the company’s 1950s race cars, particularly the DB3S and DBR1 (which already inspired another low-production Aston). The grille is even based on the latter’s. The entire exterior is unique to the DBR22, down to the headlights and full-width tail light bar. It’s all made of carbon fiber, too. The interior is also unique with leather wrapping most surfaces including the carbon seats. And being a product of the Q division, the handful of buyers will be able to customize pretty much every facet of the exterior and interior to their preferences.

No matter how an individual’s DBR22 looks, they should be the same under the skin. Aston’s twin-turbo 5.2-liter V8 sits below the vented hood and makes 705 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque. It sends power through an eight-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. Top speed is 198 mph, and it will hit 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. No mention was made of what platform the DBR22 is built on, but it likely shares similarities with the DB11 and DBS. It boasts upgrades, though, such as shear panels front and rear for greater rigidity, plus unique tuning for the adaptive shocks. Most interesting is the rear subframe. It’s made of multiple 3D-printed aluminum parts that have been bonded together. It’s a preview of future Aston Martin production techniques and the company says it has allowed them to make a lighter subframe than normal with the same rigidity. It also lets the company more easily produce custom parts for low-production models.

Aston Martin made no mention of when it will start building customer DBR22 models or when it will take orders. We wouldn’t be surprised if the company has already lined up buyers. And if not, well, potential buyers surely know whom to contact. For everyone else, the DBR22 will be on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this weekend.

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Aston Martin bringing two surprises to Pebble Beach

Aston Martin has at least three treats planned for its “strongest-ever presence” at this month’s Pebble Beach shindig. Two are surprises, including a “very special, ultra-exclusive” vehicle that will celebrate the first decade of the company’s Q by Aston Martin personalization service. The department that turns individual taste into automotive reality has done something said to “encapsulate the brand’s winning track bloodline, with a nod to success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.” We don’t know what the model will be based on. Some muse it could be another limited-run special like the V12 Speedster DBR1. The cynic in us won’t be surprised to find a DBX with special colorways, leather embossing and checkered flag motifs resting on a northern California plinth.  

The second surprise is a “high performance model” — as if Aston Martin makes anything else — that will go into series production, expected to be the V12 Vantage Roadster. The coupe dropped in March, a wild sendoff to the littlest 12-cylinder, front-engine sports car in the company’s lineup and the last Vantage to get the twin-turbo 5.2-liter V12. The note about series production wouldn’t mean unlimited production, though. There will be only 333 examples of the V12 Vantage, Roadster numbers could be even further restricted. Whatever it is, this one’s going to be revealed on Friday, August 19 at the English maker’s private Aston Martin Club 1913 that’s been relocated to provide a better view of the lawn during the Concours. 

The final goody is an update on the progress of the Valhalla, the mid-engined hybrid supercar with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 and three electric motors producing 937 hp and 738 lb-ft. We hear there will be a mockup of the revised interior that potential buyers will be able to sit in, experiencing the driver-focused, F1-like seating arrangements. Assuming nothing has changed since the Valhalla prototype exterior made its U.S. debut at last year’s Pebble Beach, the coupe will be limited to 999 examples, first deliveries planned for just two years from now.

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Aston Martin updates its logo for the eighth time in its history

Whoa, easy on the squinting there, folks. We know, the new Aston Martin logo looks basically the same as the old one. But we promise, it has changed. Here, take a look at the old one (below, left) next to the new one (below, right).

Aston Martin Badge 2003Aston Martin Badge 2022

There, now do you see it? Aston dropped the single vertical line at the bottom and the inverted arch. Also, the lines are thicker. It’s like Aston Martin highlighted the badge and clicked “bold.” It also happens to be the eighth redesign of the logo. The original appeared on Astons in 1920, with subsequent designs launching in 1927, 1930, 1932, 1954, 1984, 2003, and now. You can see all of them in order below.

Aston probably wouldn’t be that put off by us describing the new logo as the old one, but “bold,” because the company’s new tag line follows suit: “Intensity. Driven.” Yes, the tag line is basically a synonym for “bold.”

Aston Martin ValkyrieAston Martin Valhalla

Aston says the new branding is part of a new focus on providing luxury cars with maximum performance. It also seems to reflect the brand’s upcoming roster of mid-engine sports cars with the F1-inspired Valkyrie (above, left), now in production, and the less extreme Valhalla (above, right), the latter of which will start deliveries in 2024.

The new badging will appear on the Aston Martin F1 cars, and will also appear on these new-generation Aston sports cars.

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2023 Aston Martin DBX 707 First Drive Review | Supercar SUV

OLBIA, Sardinia – What is the definition of a supercar? It varies from generation to generation, from country to country, and from brand to brand. It’s the type of complex question that could fuel pub talk until the taps run dry. Aston Martin’s supercars have historically been the low-slung two-door kind, but the British firm submitted a different answer by releasing the 2023 Aston Martin DBX 707. It’s an SUV that serves supercar-like power, supercar-like acceleration, and a supercar-like price. Does it deserve a spot in this elite group in spite of its family-friendly proportions? I traveled to the Italian Mediterranean island of Sardinia to find out.

On paper, the 707 is a DBX with a more powerful engine – that’s one way to sum it up but it’s cruelly unfair. Dig deeper and you’ll discover hundreds of changes made to differentiate the two models, both in terms of design and in terms of driving dynamics. The grille is 27% bigger (it’s not just BMW riding this train), the side skirts have been redesigned, there’s a carbon fiber spoiler attached to the top part of the hatch, and the rear bumper is now vented. One of the most striking design cues is the rear diffuser: loosely inspired by the unit fitted to the Valkyrie, it sticks out far beyond the bumper and looks ready to pick a fight with every curb that comes its way. Aston Martin told me you can still fit the 707 with a hitch, so that’s a relief. Wait: tow? With this? Certainly! Bolt that hitch on it and you can pull approximately 6,000 pounds.

While some of these tweaks are purely aesthetic, others allowed Aston Martin to hone the DBX’s aerodynamic profile. Adding splitters to the front bumper stabilizes airflow, for example, and Sam Holgate, Aston Martin’s chief designer for mid-engined models and SUVs, pointed out that the 707 has about 5% less lift than the regular DBX.

“Mainly, that came out from the front of the car by venting air out of the arches, but then we got it back with the rear spoiler, so this car is completely lift-neutral front to rear, regardless of whether you’re traveling at high or low speeds,” he told me.

In a way, the 707 is a laboratory that incorporates some of the feedback that Aston Martin has received about the DBX since production started in 2020. Buyers wanted soft-close doors; it’s got them. And, there is one improvement that Aston Martin’s engineering team is particularly proud of. “We redesigned the cupholders to take a bigger variety of cups,” said Andrew Tokley, Aston Martin’s senior manager of vehicle engineering. Customer feedback, much of it from American buyers directly shaped the new cupholders (no mention of American car reviewers). Scoff if you must, but they were surprisingly useless before.

As in the regular DBX, all of the materials that the passengers see and touch are top-notch, which you’d rightfully expect in a vehicle that goes deep into $200,000 territory. Aston Martin really sweated the details: every stitch is correctly aligned and every switch feels solid. Its heritage is rooted in luxury, after all.

The only disappointment inside – and it’s not an insignificant one – is the infotainment system. Yep, I heard you: “no one buys an Aston Martin to get a fancy touchscreen!” Fair enough, but technology has, for better or worse, become one of the yardsticks used to measure luxury cars and the DBX falls short here. It’s fitted with what’s essentially an older Mercedes-Benz infotainment system, meaning one controlled by a touchpad and a dial rather than a touchscreen. It’s bulky and unintuitive; the DBX deserves better, especially since there are some cool features and menus stuffed into the software.

Power comes from a twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8. It’s the familiar eight-cylinder that Aston Martin borrowed from Mercedes-AMG to drop into several of its models, including the regular DBX, but here it’s tuned to develop 697 horsepower at 6,000 rpm (or 707 pferdestärke – hence the name) and 663 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. Enthusiasts familiar with AMG’s V8 cookbook will recognize that no in-house recipe yields these numbers, and that’s because this is a British recipe, not a German one.

“The Mercedes-Benz technology transfer agreement is very important for us, and this is one of the outcomes. We were able to make several refinements to the engine. The agreement also gives us the leverage to be much quicker to the market,” said Aston Martin boss Tobias Moers. Importantly, and this is not a coincidence, his last job was running the very company that designed the engine: AMG. His gravitational pull was strong enough to bring a few key people with him to England, including Ralph Illenberger. He’s now Aston Martin’s head of powertrain having previously been AMG’s head of engine development.

Tokley explained that some of the changes made in-house include fitting turbochargers equipped with ball bearings instead of journal bearings. Software and calibration tweaks entered the equation as well.

From the crankshaft, the V8’s cavalry reaches the four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission linked to beefy shift paddles, an active transfer case, an upsized carbon fiber driveshaft (which doesn’t have a center bearing in order to save weight), and an electronic limited-slip rear differential with a final drive ratio that’s 7% shorter than the standard DBX’s. Hitting 60 mph from a stop consequently takes 3.1 seconds, a number that becomes even more impressive when you take into account the 4,940-pound mass that the engine needs to lug around. The nine-speed automatic keeps up with the pace by delivering quick, crisp shifts, either on its own or manually. The shift paddles are even larger than those in the regular DBX, and are made of carbon fiber rather than metal. 

Aston Martin lets you choose how loudly the DBX 707 comes to life. For the standard exhaust note, simply push the “engine start/stop” button located on the dashboard, between the buttons used to put the transmission in gear. To turn it up, which I highly recommend, keep the left shift paddle pulled as you push the ignition button. The difference in decibels is perceptible, both inside and out. The V8’s song is worth turning down the audio system for, and Aston Martin spent a great deal of time fine-tuning it. Moers, a man whose love of great-sounding engines is well documented, personally weighed in on it.

Unless you’re a current Aston Martin owner, the brand’s long-standing automatic shifter location takes a little bit of time to get used to; your hand instinctively reaches for the center console. But, once you’re off, you’re off. The DBX’s acceleration is nearly instantaneous, which is surprising because the engine’s full horsepower and torque outputs aren’t available until 6,000 and 4,500 rpm, respectively. There is so much of both under your right foot that the engine curve matters far less than it does in a car with, say, 150 horsepower. At full throttle, the DBX delivers the type of gut-twisting acceleration associated with a supercar. Try launch control once, and I’ll bet the cost of my test car’s optional 23-inch wheels (that’s $5,100, by the way) that you’ll immediately stop to do it again.

The chassis improvements came to life on twisty Sardinian roads. This is not a light car, and it never feels like one, but dialing in a 52% front and 48% rear weight distribution ensures it’s not as front-heavy as you’d expect. It’s reasonably well balanced, especially considering the segment that it competes in. The air suspension and 48-volt anti-roll control keep body motions in check, and the massive tires unlock a reassuring (and almost supernatural!) level of grip. Bend after bend, the DBX 707 delights with precise, well-weighted steering … until I come out of a sharp right-hander, foot half-buried in the throttle, and realize I’m barreling towards a group of goats chilling in the middle of the road. That’s where the standard carbon ceramic braking system comes in. Rest assured: the DBX passed the goat avoidance test with flying colors.

On straighter, faster roads where the odds of encountering cheese-producing livestock are lower, the DBX 707 is a pleasant and comfortable car to cruise in. Like the regular DBX, actually, the 707’s wild side is entertaining, but it knows how to be calm when the occasion calls for it. It’s also quiet thanks in part to remarkably thick windows. Only the V8’s song permeates the cabin. Some of it comes from the speakers, though Tokley stresses that the actual exhaust note is being piped through rather than a fake sound emitted by a synthesizer. For the braver souls among us, there’s an off-road mode that increases the ground clearance.

Due out in the second quarter of 2022, the 2023 Aston Martin DBX 707 starts at $239,086 including a massive $3,086 destination charge, and the $300,000 threshold is effortlessly reached when you begin ticking option boxes – my tester cost $291,586. At this stage, what are you really cross-shopping the DBX 707 with? Any of the other family haulers that cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars, sure, but you could also get a used Cessna or buy a cabin in a picturesque part of the Alps and a four-wheel-drive Dacia Duster to get there. That’s the point: the heart crushes the brain in this equation. No one needs a 697-horsepower SUV, but the acceleration, the sound, the design, and the luxury make you want one. Cast in this light, ground clearance and seat count be damned: the DBX 707 is a modern supercar.

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Aston Martin V12 Vantage revealed as the last of the line

The Aston Martin V12 Vantage is here, and it’s a wild sendoff to the littlest 12-cylinder, front-engine sports car in the company’s lineup. Yes, this will be the last Vantage to get the twin-turbo 5.2-liter V12. As such, it’s going to be produced in very limited numbers with a whole bunch of special features to make the most of the beefy engine under the hood.

That V12 is a familiar unit, as it has also appeared in DB11 and DBS variants, as well as the Vantage-based V12 Speedster. The engine is tuned to the V12 Speedster’s specifications with 690 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque, the latter of which is available from between 1,800 to 6,000 rpm. It’s paired to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission in the middle and a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear. Aston says the powertrain will propel the V12 Vantage to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds on the way to a 200 mph top speed.

Surrounding the engine is a thoroughly revised body. It’s about 1.6 inches wider overall to accommodate the wider track and fat tires (275-mm front and 315-mm rear). The front grille is 25% larger than on a normal Vantage to provide more cooling, and the hood has a scalloped vent for the same reason. Many of the body components are made of carbon fiber for weight savings including the bumpers, side skirts, fenders, hood and trunk lid. Adding both visual excitement and additional downforce are the front splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser and wing. They provide 450 pounds of downforce at top speed. If a buyer finds the wing to be a bit much, though, it can be deleted, though downforce would be reduced. The V12 Vantage also gets a special center-exit exhaust that weighs nearly 16 pounds less than the standard Vantage exhaust.

Naturally, the chassis gets upgrades to handle the V12 Vantage’s power. In addition to being wider, the V12 Vantage’s chassis is stiffer thanks to added sheer panels, a rear shock tower brace and fuel tank bracing. The adaptive suspension features stiffer springs are stiffer, as are various bushings and the front anti-roll bar. The rear anti-roll bar is actually softer, though. Carbon ceramic brakes are standard with six-piston front calipers and 4-piston rear calipers.

On the inside, the V12 Vantage is pretty similar to a regular model, but it gets standard Sports Plus Seats with semi-aniline leather with quilted stitching and perforations. Lightweight carbon fiber seats are also available, and Aston Martin’s Q division offers all kinds of special ways to personalize a model for extra fees both inside and out from color anodized knobs to custom graphics and tinted carbon fiber.

Aston is only building 333 examples of the V12 Vantage, and that’s for the whole world. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but it also doesn’t matter much, as every example is spoken for. Production begins this year, and deliveries will start in the second quarter of next year

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Aston Martin teases V12 Vantage twice more ahead of debut

If you can handle another tease of the coming Aston Martin V12 Vantage, here are two. The first is a photo of what will certainly be a riotous super coupe under a partially opaque Union Jack. We can’t spot anything on the obscured car that we don’t know about from prototypes (or suspect from reports); the headlights, side mirrors, fender vents, and wheels are all there. Phew!. Out back, the drapery hangs high, pulled over a high wing that will be part of the V12 Vantage’s numerous aerodynamic accoutrements. The test vehicles we’ve seen have been wingless, fitting nothing more than a Gurney flap to the Vantage’s tidy ducktail, so we’ll have to find out if the wing is standard fit or an option. 

Behind the extra large grille, everyone is expecting the brand’s 5.2-liter V12. In the limited edition Speedster, which married the Vantage’s chassis to the Superleggera’s front end, that 12-cylinder made 690 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque. Predictions for V12 Vantage out range from about 600, roughly in line with the DB11, to about 670, which would be a massive hoot while leaving room enough not to fluster Speedster owners.

The second teaser is a brief Twitter video mood board with the admonition to “Never leave quietly.”

We’ll hear the supercar’s noise and find out about its backside on March 16, when the reveal happens. We should also find out then how many Aston Martin plans to make. A previous rumor put that production number at 299. The vehicle itself is expected to arrive for the 2023 model year as part of the standard Vantage’s model update, sources saying there will only be 299 made. The standard 2023 Vantage will be part of an overhaul of the front-engined Aston Martins that result in more power, better dynamics, and better interiors.

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2022 Kia EV6 and Acura NSX Type S driven | Autoblog Podcast #715

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder and Road Test Editor Zac Palmer. The car chat begins this week with a review of the 2022 Kia EV6, followed by Zac’s drive of the 2022 Acura NSX Type-S. Then they discuss Autoblog’s new long-term loan, a 2022 BMW 330e xDrive. They’ve also been driving the Ford Explorer Timberline and Kia Sorento Hybrid.

In the news, they discuss the soon-to-be-revealed Alfa Romeo Tonale, as well as the recently unveiled Aston Martin DBX707. Finally, Greg talks about a historical Detroit landmark, the old American Motors Company headquarters, which is set to be demolished.

Send us your questions for the Mailbag and Spend My Money at:

Autoblog Podcast #715

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Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari 512M and more immortalized as Lego sets

Lego has announced a slew of new Speed Champions sets, the ones based on actual licensed cars, for 2022. The latest batch includes a smorgasbord of supercars, from beloved classics like the Lamborghini Countach to yet-to-be-released promises like the long-awaited Mercedes-AMG One. There are seven cars in total, released in five sets. 

Our favorite is probably the 262-piece Lamborghini Countach, based on a later LP500 variant. Not only does it tick the box of a childhood dream machine, but the angular shape of the real-life Countach lends itself well to being recreated in Lego bricks. Also, it’s modeled in white rather than the typical red.

We also really dig the Ferrari 512M. It marked the last of Ferrari’s V12 endurance racers, and even though it was soundly spanked by the Porsche 917, the cars are undeniably beautiful. The 291-piece Lego set does a great job of capturing its brutal wedge silhouette in brick form.

Rounding out the single-car sets is the 247-piece Lotus Evija. The electric Lotus has a bit of a generic supercar look about it, but that’s not entirely the fault of the Lego kit. Its dramatic vents can’t really be replicated with the limited “resolution” of the Lego bricks. Its rear, with unique taillight-encircled air tunnels, is a bit more distinctive.

In addition to the single car sets, there are two larger sets of two cars each. One is a 592-piece Aston Martin-themed pack that includes the Valkyrie AMR Pro and Vantage GT3. Again, it’s a bit difficult to sculpt the cars’ curvaceous lines out of straight-edged bricks, but the effort is admirable. The Valkyrie is probably the more successful of the two, as the Vantage would resemble a Corvette or Viper if it didn’t have stickers to clarify the details.

Last but not least is a twofer comprised of 564 bricks to build the Mercedes-AMG One and seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton’s W12 racer. In Lego’s official product description the driver is not mentioned by name, but the number 44 gives it away. The model of the One indeed looks like a sharp supercar, but the blocky pieces don’t exactly replicate the lines we’ve seen on camouflaged test mules. The F1 car model looks a bit more like the actual thing, complete with the Petronas livery that graces Hamilton’s steed.

Lego has been doing a great job of immortalizing supercars and classics in brick form in their Speed Champions lineup. Last year saw kits of the McLaren Elva, Koenigsegg Jesko, Toyota GR Supra, Chevrolet Corvette, as well as the Ford GT and Bronco. Their more detailed Technics line has seen vehicles like the Ford Raptor, Volkswagen Camper Van and BMW M1000RR motorcycle

While the kits look entertaining, we wouldn’t mind if they didn’t skew so heavily towards unobtainably expensive, limited-production vehicles. What kid wouldn’t want a kit of their parents’ Chrysler Pacifica, a Ford Transit Connect to replicate a city scene, or a Mazda Miata for some clean, honest fun? The single-car sets will retail for $19.99, the two-packs for $39.99. All five sets are scheduled for a March 2022 release.

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“Hypercars: The Allure of the Extreme” Exhibit Opens At The Petersen Automotive Museum

The Petersen Automotive Museum recently opened their newest exhibit, Hypercars: The Allure of the Extreme. The exhibit will display the fastest, most state-of-the-art, most expensive, and most exclusive cars in the world. Hypercars opened to the public on December 4, and it will remain at the Petersen Automotive Museum for the next 18 months.

There will be around 30 vehicles that will be rotated and each of them definitely embody what hypercars are and why the automotive world is enamored by these speedsters.

Aria FXE Concept @Ted7

Vehicles that will be on display will include the Bugatti Veyron 16.4, Aria FXE concept, Caparo T1, Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta, Devel Sixteen, Koenigsegg Agera RS Final Edition, Hennessey Venom F5 (Design Model), NIO EP9, McLaren Speedtail, Pagani Huayra Hermes Edition, Delage D12, Rimac Concept One, and RAESR Tachyon Speed. Two motorcycles that fit the description will also be showcased namely the Lotus C-01 and Aston Martin AMB 001. The Czinger 21C will also be making brief appearances during the 18 months, but it will surely be on the display on the last two weeks of this year.

Petersen Automotive Museum Executive Director Terry L. Karges shared, “We’re excited to host a variety of Hypercars in one exhibit. Audiences already have been enthralled by seeing some of the world’s most astonishing vehicles up-close.”

Koenigsegg Agera RS FE THOR @Ted7

The Petersen Museum defines a ‘hypercar’ as a vehicle that is in a completely different level in terms of technological advancement, performance, rarity, and of course, the price. The Hypercars exhibit will display projects from both well-established marques as well as smaller startups that have caught the attention of audiences and enthusiasts with their unmatched performance, stunning beauty, and technological breakthroughs.

Hypercars: The Allure of the Extreme is located at the museum lobby and at the Bruce Meyer Family Gallery. The exhibit is scheduled to have two successive parts, the first will be on display until September 22, 2022, while the second part with the second batch of vehicles will be arriving on September 17, 2022 and they will stay until May 14, 2023.

To know more about current and future exhibits at the Petersen Museum, you can visit

2020 McLaren Speedtail @Ted7

Aston Martin V12 Vantage shows off sound, will return in 2022

According to Aristotle’s fourth-century History of Animals, swans “are musical, and sing chiefly at the approach of death.” Scientists still debate the accuracy of this statement, but we don’t think anybody is going to argue with the melodic tones of the swan song that is Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage. Listen for yourself in the video up above.

We’ve been expecting this. We saw spy shots in August of a hardcore Vantage mule out testing on the Nürburgring that was fitted with all manner of enhancements that led us to believe a twin-turbo 5.2-liter V12 may be under its vented hood. Later, the rumormill was aflutter with reports that the British marque was planning to bestow its smallest car with big power courtesy of a V12 tuned to deliver a reported 670 horsepower. That’s 20 ponies fewer than the Speedster’s twelve-cylinder, which spins out 690 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque.

We don’t know much more than that, for now. Aston Martin’s teaser says the V12 Vantage returns in 2022, we’d guess as a 2023 model, and that it will be labeled a Final Edition. We’re certain the number produced will be limited, so if this is the beautiful swan song you’ve been waiting for, now would be a good time to get your finances in order.

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The 20th anniversary of the Aston Martin Vanquish

When I see a first-generation Aston Martin Vanquish I can’t help but think about James Bond, more specifically the 20th movie in the series, Die Another Day, and while I also remember the red Lamborghini Diablo that got tossed out of an airplane, the hero car in this installment was undoubtedly the Tungsten Silver over a charcoal leather interior Aston Martin Vanquish none other than Pierce Brosnan got to drive, thanks to some ‘invisibility’ add-on by Q-branch, they called her the ‘Vanish’ in the movie.

While the Bond movie was released in 2002, the Aston Martin Vanquish was unveiled at the 2001 Geneva Motor Show, two decades ago this year, and the Vanquish gained both popularity and notoriety in the car collecting world, at the time this model was hand-built in Newport Pagnell she was the most advanced Aston Martin yet, and the drive-by-wire throttle with an F1-inspired paddle shifter made their debut on this model, which is regarded as a collector’s item today.

Safe to say the Aston Martin Vanquish was the top-of-the-line in 2001, the best of the best with an amazing, muscular design, Paul Spires, President of Aston Martin Works states: “The original V12 Vanquish represented an important and timely development for our marque. It was, and is, a great super GT with all the character, style, and power that is rightly expected of an Aston Martin sports car. 20 years on from that debut, the V12 Vanquish remains a proud part of the marque’s heritage which we celebrate here at Newport Pagnell. It is an exceptional piece of our history, and a car that we can rightly look back on with considerable pride.”

Ian Callum actually started working on the Vanquish in the mid-nineties already, at that time called the ‘Project Vantage’, the next-generation supercar from Aston Martin with a 6-Liter V12 engine making 460 bhp using an F1 gearbox with paddles, built on a lightweight aluminum tub wearing a composite body … all very innovative for Aston Martin at that time, the first concept of Project Vantage was shown at the 1998 Detroit Motor Show.

One of the requirements for the new Vanquish was the design of the front grille, it had to be immediately recognizable as an Aston Martin, and Ian Callum succeeded in this perfectly, integrating this hallmark of the brand’s design language, but he added large auxiliary driving lamps on either side, while the fenders and hood boast a series of finely detailed compound curves sweeping back to the steeply raked windscreen only to continue into a low roofline that ends in a short rear section with integrated rear wing, the entire body of the Aston Martin Vanquish is made from aluminum panels.

All body panels, including the roof, hood, wings, and doors were made of Super Plastic Formed pressed aluminum, after which these were individually tailored onto the central structure … by hand, at the Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire factory, each single Vanquish took eight weeks to build from start to finish, and while Aston Martin set out to make 300 units per year, due to high demand, they ended up building about 500 Vanquish every year, between 2001 and 2007 a total of 2,589 units were sold, which includes about 10 pre-production prototype and 1,086 units of the improved Vanquish S unveiled in 2004.

Oddly enough, you could order the Aston Martin Vanquish as a 2-seater, or as a 2+2 version, whichever version you opted for, the car would come with an automated manual gearbox, yes you are reading that correctly, the Vanquish comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, but changing gears is done with paddles fitted to the steering column, with 460 bhp and 556 Nm of torque, this 48-valve V12 put some serious strain on the gearbox, and for those that prefer a real manual shifter with a clutch pedal, Aston Martin has recently been offering a conversion package that can be obtained from the in-house heritage center or the new Aston Martin Works, to date it seems about 130 Aston Martin Vanquish have been officially converted to a fully manual transmission.

This was a heavy car, and with that much power you needed some really good tires to cope with all the force this Aston Martin could inflict on the rubber, so Yokohama was asked to develop a specific tire for the Vanquish, 255/40 ZR 19 for the front and 285/40 ZR 19 for the rear were fitted with a bespoke AML badge from Yokohama, rims were 9 inch for the front with a 10 inch width for the wider rear tires, and not only did tire pressure get measured in the Vanquish, there were even temperature sensors on the wheels.

In 2004 Aston Martin launched the Vanquish S, the fastest production model ever, the S could go over 200 mph (321 km/h) by increasing the power output from the 6-Liter V12 to 520 hp, recognizable by the modified front grille, an aerodynamic front splitter, and a modified rear spoiler, to make sure the ride was still comfortable enough, but sporty at the same time, Aston Martin fitted stiffer springs and revised the steering geometry, six-piston brakes became larger to ensure this latest Aston Martin could stop in a hurry when needed.

In early 2007 Aston Martin announced there would be no more new cars built at the Newport Pagnell factory, as a celebration of this end of an era they created the limited edition V12 Vanquish S Ultimate, only 40 were made, the last 40 cars built at Newport Pagnell, and all of them were finished in ‘Ultimate Black’, a bespoke color for this model, with a semi-aniline leather interior, coarse stitching, a leather headliner and black chrome interior finishes.

Each of these 40 Ultimate editions received a special sill plaque, but next to these European Ultimate models in black, Aston Martin also built a very small number of white cars for customers in the Middle East, today these are considered to be the ultimate collector’s item and will demand a premium over the earlier cars.

In 2007 the Aston Martin Vanquish was succeeded by the stunning DBS V12, a second-generation Aston Martin Vanquish would be unveiled in 2012, this time both as a coupe and as a convertible, with even more power, but we still love the original V12 Vanquish from 2001, heck, it was a Bond car, how can you beat that?

Is the Aston Martin Valkyrie Spider better than the V12 hard-top?

We’ve just published an article about the very first customer finally taking delivery of an Aston Martin Valkyrie when Top Gear publishes a video in which they talk about the fact it might have been a better idea to get the Spider version because let’s face it, who doesn’t like a convertible hypercar?

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The Aston Martin Valkyrie Spider truly is the closest thing to a street-legal Formula One car you can get when you remove the roof section, and while the Valkyrie comes with nice-looking gullwing doors, the Valkyrie Spider looks even better with those outward and upward-opening doors, almost like wings on a bug, and it allows an easier entry into the cockpit, especially when you remove the small roof section with the two panels that open up too.

The first Valkyrie Spider will not be delivered until well into 2022 and with only 85 units of this convertible, production will run out quickly, the amazing looking Valkyrie Spider has been developed from the coupe version, taking unique engineering solutions by combining the talents of both Aston Martin themselves and Red Bull Advanced Technologies (RBAT), the engine is still the same 1,160 hp hybrid unit, combining 1,000 hp from the Cosworth developed 6.5-Liter V12 engine with 160 hp from the KERS-style hybrid system, using a 12-in-1 exhaust design, the Valkyrie’s soundtrack is reminiscent of a 90s F1 race car.

Thanks to a lot of development and slight modifications between the Valkyrie and the new Valkyrie Spider, Aston Martin managed to keep the weight gain on the Spider to a strict minimum … the result is still a top speed in excess of 350 km/h with the roof in place while driving topless will still get you over 330 km/h … all while sitting nearly in the center of the car, fixed in place by a six-point safety harness.

Even the entire removable roof system is special, consisting of a central panel made from carbon fiber that contains the hinges for the two panels above the occupants, all of these panels can be removed once the doors open, and stowed in their dedicated sections, carefully cut into the new carbon fiber structure … due to the lack of a roof, the gullwing doors from the coupe had to be redesigned into front-hinged dihedral doors, bespoke to the Valkyrie Spider.

The first Aston Martin Valkyrie for a customer is ready for delivery

It has taken nearly 5 years for Aston Martin to finally have the first unit of their AM-RB 001, also known as the Valkyrie, ready to be delivered to a customer, it was back in 2017 when they showed the car as a concept for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show, at the time they intended to use a 6.5-liter NA V12 engine designed and built by Cosworth to be combined with a Rimac battery pack for a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio – 1 bhp per kilo, an estimated power output between 900hp and 1000hp was listed, production was to be limited at 150 units for the road, and 25 track-only versions.

Aston Martin and Red Bull Advanced Technologies teamed up to create this new hypercar, hence the internal AM-RB 001 designation and the final figures were a hybrid powertrain with a Cosworth-built 65-degree naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V12 paired with a Rimac-sourced battery-electric system, with a total power output of no less than 1,176 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque, with 106 hp of that coming from the electric motor, do note that the maximum hp from the engine is reached at the screaming 11,100 rpm!

Two years later, in 2019 we finally saw the first Aston Martin Valkyrie in action, at Silverstone ahead of the 2019 British Grand Prix, driven by Chris Goodwin who had this to say about the car: “I’ve driven this car around Silverstone for countless hours on the simulator at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s HQ and in many other sportscars throughout my career, but to drive Aston Martin Valkyrie here today feels exceptionally special, of course, we still have a lot of development work to go but we can now begin to really push the physical testing process and realize the capabilities of what we have developed over the past months.”

Development of this Aston Martin hypercar continued, and by March 2020 we finally saw a car being tested on the road, without any camouflage this time, equipped with a Rimac-developed Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) style electric motor and battery, instead of a constant electric assist. The KERS system will dump power to the rear wheels on hard acceleration and will recover energy during braking. The aerodynamics of the car were developed alongside the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team and used both over car airflow and venturi ground effects to suck the car onto the road. No official statistics on cornering G or total downforce have been confirmed by Aston Martin, but it is expected that at speed, the car will effectively double in weight from the force of the air moving over, through, and around it.

Back in early 2020, the intention was to have the first customer car from the 150 production run being delivered by August 2020, that didn’t happen due to the worldwide pandemic, and deliveries were pushed to Q2 of 2021, sadly that wasn’t possible either and it seems the first client will be receiving his very own Aston Martin Valkyrie in Q4 of 2021 instead, the price for this road-going monster is rumored to be between £2m and £3m or about $2.46 million to $3.69 million.

Note that Aston Martin has already unveiled the Valkyrie AMR Pro in meantime, thanks to the aerodynamic efficiency, the Valkyrie AMR Pro offers track performance previously only seen in Formula One cars, a lot of weight has been saved on the Valkyrie AMR Pro by removing the entire hybrid system, using an extremely light carbon fiber body, carbon fiber suspension wishbones, built to compete at the 24h of Le Mans, the design has been created to be able to lap the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe in a mere 3 minutes and 20 seconds, only 40 units of the AMR Pro version will be made.

In August of 2021 we found out the entire production for the Aston Martin Valkyrie had sold out, all of the 150 units were gone, so Aston Martin did what any car builder would do to maximize profit … create an additional version, hence the Valkyrie Spider was born, this time, limited to 85 units in total, and according to the official press release from Aston Martin, these are already over-subscribed and allocations would only begin shortly, available in both left and right-hand drive version, the first deliveries were scheduled for H2 2022 but it seems not all that have put their name down will eventually receive this amazing hybrid topless hypercar.

Thanks to a lot of development and slight modifications between the Valkyrie and the new Valkyrie Spider, Aston Martin managed to keep the weight gain on the Spider to a strict minimum … the result is still a top speed in excess of 350 km/h with the roof in place while driving topless will still get you over 330 km/h … all while sitting nearly in the center of the car, fixed in place by a six-point safety harness.

Finally, in early November 2021, it seems the very first customer will be receiving his (or hers) Aston Martin Valkyrie as the car is completed at the Gaydon HQ, production of this hypercar is started and deliveries will be happening in the coming weeks. Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer, Tobias Moers commented: “It is an immensely proud moment for us to complete our first-ever hypercar. The Aston Martin Valkyrie program has tested everyone who has worked on it to the limit but the commitment to the dream has produced a truly incredible car, an F1® car for the road. The Valkyrie is born out of the steadfast dedication of a large group of highly skilled engineers and technicians who have worked tirelessly to get Valkyrie to the production stage. I’m sure our customers will be delighted with what they have achieved.”

As with every Aston Martin sports car, the Valkyrie is built at the UK Headquarters in Gaydon, where a dedicated project delivery team manages the build right through to delivery in a specially commissioned Valkyrie production area, a team of highly skilled technicians will hand-built each of the 150 cars, with each Valkyrie taking over 2000 man-hours to create. Before each Valkyrie is delivered, it is track-tested at the Aston Martin high-performance facility at the home of British Motor Racing in Silverstone where much of the development of the hypercar has taken place over the last five years.

Aston Martin Valkyrie begins production in dashing green dress

A new era of hypercars is officially born today, as the first production Aston Martin Valkyrie rolls off the line. That’s right, the Valkyrie is officially starting its extremely limited production.

The Valkyrie entering production now also means that Aston Martin has beaten Mercedes and its competing hypercar, the AMG One, to production — both cars saw their “debuts” in 2017. Last we heard from Mercedes on that front, the AMG One was still undergoing testing. Updated timing on the car’s production release was not detailed in this announcement that took place over a year ago. Perhaps those who ordered the AMG One have more insight on when their specific cars will be built, but for now, the production car is still floating out there in the ether.

Meanwhile, Aston Martin says the first Valkyrie, pictured in green here, is awaiting delivery. Aston does not say who the first owner is or detail the spec of the car, but we applaud the dark green paint chosen.

Aston Martin Valkyrie production start

“It is an immensely proud moment for us to complete our first ever hypercar,” Aston Martin CEO, Tobias Moers said. “The Aston Martin Valkyrie program has tested everyone who has worked on it to the limit but the commitment to the dream has produced a truly incredible car, an F1 car for the road.”

Production for the Valkyrie is taking place in a special Valkyrie-only area of Aston’s Gaydon headquarters. A small team of technicians spend over 2,000 hours total to build each car, and there will be 150 total Valkyries produced.

If you want to know all the nitty gritty details of Aston’s hypercar, make sure to check it out in our previous Valkyrie coverage. And enjoy the sound of its Cosworth V12, too. It’s downright magical to hear.

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The V12 Vanquish Celebrates 20-year anniversary

Aston Martin Works is the home of a great British automotive marque. This month, one of the greatest supercars they have produced is celebrating its 20-year anniversary: the original V12 Vanquish.

In 2001, the V12 Vanquish made its debut in front of eager audiences at the Geneva Motor Show. It immediately made an impact as the newest, most sophisticated, and most technologically advanced automobile designed, developed, and presented by Aston Martin.

The V12 Vanquish was given the most cutting-edge technologies like the F1©-style finger-tip controlled gearshift paddles and drive-by-wire throttle control. Almost overnight, the Newport Pagnell-manufactured V12 Vanquish became the flagship model of Aston Martin.

The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish

Expert media critics were immediately enamored by the V12’s beautiful design, exceptional power, and unparalleled performance.

Motortrend in the United States claimed, “Aston Martin’s new Vanquish is one of the most superbly designed front-engine GTs of all time.”

A British magazine, evo, added, “It devours the straight bits with relish, but it also has a ravenous appetite for corners.” The Sunday Times hailed it as “an automotive masterpiece”.

Today, Aston Martin Works President Paul Spires stated, “The original V12 Vanquish represented an important and timely development for our marque. It was, and is, a great super GT with all the character, style and power that is rightly expected of an Aston Martin sports car. 20 years on from that debut, the V12 Vanquish remains a proud part of the marque’s heritage which we celebrate here at Newport Pagnell. It is an exceptional piece of our history, and a car that we can rightly look back on with considerable pride.”

The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S
The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S
The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S

The Origin Story

The story of the V12 Vanquish started years before it made its historic debut at the 2001 Geneva Motor Show.

The V12 started with a concept sports car dubbed “Project Vantage”.

The concept car has been in development throughout the mid-90s and in 1998, it made its debut at the Detroit Motor Show. Project Vantage was designed by then styling chief Ian Callum.

It featured a new 6.0-liter V12 engine that had an output of 460 bhp. The engine was mated to an F1©-inspired paddle shift gearbox. The V12 was given an aluminum tub and composite body panels which was then a huge leap in terms of design and technology for the luxury marque.

Aston Martin continued to develop the program. By autumn of 2000, a group of key media people was allowed to see a pre-production V12 Vanquish, which was clearly greatly influenced by the Project Vantage.

The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S
The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S
The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S

V12 Vanquish design and body engineering

The two-door sports car’s elegant and classic body was designed by Ian Callum, and it was created to embody the tradition, pedigree, and heritage of Aston Martin. Offered in 2+0 or 2+2 configurations, it was seen as bold and dynamic, with finely detailed features that can be seen in the interior and exterior of the car.

All the design elements were carefully considered and incorporated into the car to showcase the marque’s commitment to quality and craftsmanship.

Some of the key features of the car are the bold and distinct auxiliary driving lamps and front direction turn indicators, in between them is the distinct radiator grille and lower air intake which are the marque’s design signature at the time. The front wings and bonnet panels were also given finely detailed compound curves that sweep back to the steeply raked windscreen pillars and low curving roof line.

Adding visual appeal are the sculptured sill and door panels. The rear wheel arches prominently and the rear spoiler and short tail section in the boot lid matches the overall classic look of the V12 Vanquish.

V12 Vanquish S
V12 Vanquish S
Aston Martin Vanquish S. Photo by: Max Earey

All the exterior body panels were made from aluminum, and each individual panel were tailored manually to the central structure.

The central transmission tunnel was made completely from carbon fiber while the body structure bonded to it, including the front and rear bulkheads and the floor, were made from extruded aluminum structure.

To create a high strength safety cell, they connected to the central structure a single piece composite inner body side section with carbon fiber windscreen pillars.

To create the structures, they needed a precise, computer-controlled manufacturing process and this was a huge manufacturing undertaking for Aston Martin at the time. These were developed in California’s Silicon Valley in Cupertino and at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.

In front of the driver and passenger compartment is a steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber subframe that houses the engine, transmission, and front suspension which are bolted directly to the front bulkhead. In front of the engine and front suspension is the deformable composite structure that carries the distinct Aston Martin mesh air intake grille. It not only adds crash protection, but it also accommodates the engine, transmission, and air conditioning radiators and intercoolers.

They also developed a completely flat surface for the underbody to allow air to be channeled into a Venturi section at the back to assist high speed aerodynamics.

The composite floor, parcel shelf, and side rails of the luggage compartment were also carefully designed at the rear to give additional deformable crash protection along with the extruded aluminum side impact beams that were in the doors.

All the exterior panels of the V12 including the bonnet, roof, boot lid, doors, and front and rear wings were made from “super-plastic-formed” and pressed aluminum. Each individual panel were then manually tailored and bonded at the marque’s Newport Pagnell factory in Buckinghamshire to guarantee a perfect fit and finish.

It takes eight full weeks to build each V12 Vanquish. Initially, Aston Martin targeted to create around 300 cars each year. As demand continued to grow, and the waiting list ran into years, the marque raised the target to build around 500 cars a year.

In the six years that the car was in production, a total of 2,589 V12 Vanquish were produced, with all the versions.

V12 Vanquish production at Aston Martin Newport Pagnell
V12 Vanquish production at Aston Martin Newport Pagnell
V12 Vanquish production at Aston Martin Newport Pagnell

V12 Vanquish engine and gearbox

Under the hood of this powerful car is an all-alloy, twin overhead camshaft 48 valve 6.0-liter V12 engine. It can generate 460 bhp at 6,500 rpm, and 556 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm, enabling it to run at 190 mph.

The DB7 showed engineering enhancements made on the V12 engine like the new design inlet manifolds, valve gear, camshafts, crankshaft, and a new exhaust system. All these innovations gave an additional seven percent power.

The whole exhaust system and front bulkhead was wrapped in a heat resistant material that was first used and developed for the aerospace industry. This was done to ensure that the body structure was protected from the heat of the engine and exhaust system.

A new engine oil to water heat exchanger sped up and helped the operating efficiency, working together with an ionized gas misfire detection system that continuously monitored all of the engine’s 12 cylinders.

The V12 Vanquish’s six-speed close ratio manual transmission is connected to the electronic drive-by-wire throttle of the car. It is controlled through the twin paddles mounted on the steering column.

V12 Vanquish
V12 Vanquish
A cut away created to illustrate the composite construction in V12 Vanquish

The innovative F1©-inspired gearbox was first introduced in the V12 Vanquish and it introduced electronics to the hydraulics for faster gear changes. Leading writer and automotive journalist Jeremy Clarkson famously dubbed this innovation as “flappy paddles”. The manual transmission also had sophisticated electronics that allowed it to operate automatically. It also has an additional program for winter driving conditions.

Aston Martin recently engineered a manual conversion package that they offered to owners through their in-house heritage center and new car dealership: Aston Martin Works.

Since it opened, there have been around 130 original Vanquish models that have been given a manual transmission. On average, around ten cars are sent to Works every year for the process to done.

Brakes, Suspension, and Steering

The aluminum alloy road wheels were fitted with an anti-lock ventilated and drilled 355 mm (front) and 330 mm (rear) diameter Brembo disc brakes. It also had variable ratio power steering and independent front and rear suspension systems which had forged aluminum wishbones and cast aluminum front suspension uprights.

The rear axle had a limited slip differential that worked with an electronic traction control system which sensed potential wheel slippage and automatically decrease engine power. When necessary, it applies the rear braking system. The V12 Vanquish had exclusively designed Yokohama 255/40 ZR 19 front and 285/40 ZR 19 rear tires that had the AML initials. The tires were mounted on 19-inch diameter wheels with 9-inch width front rims, and 10-inch width rear rims. An automatic electronic sensing system monitors each individual tire pressure and temperatures.

A sketch of the V12 Vanquish S Ultimate Edition
A sketch of the V12 Vanquish S Ultimate Edition
A sketch of the V12 Vanquish S Ultimate Edition

V12 Vanquish S – the fastest

In September 2004, the V12 Vanquish S made its world debut at the renowned Paris Motor Show. At the time, it was the fastest production sports car that Aston Martin has released.

It had a recorded maximum speed of more than 200 mph, which was roughly 321 kph. It was equipped with a 6.0-liter V12 engine with 520 hp. The V12 Vanquish S was designed to be even more powerful, complemented by subtle steering and suspension upgrades, as well as a number of interior and exterior style changes.

When it was launched, the Aston Martin Chairman and CEO at the time, Dr. Ulrich Bez simply described the powerful V12 Vanquish S stating, “It is the ultimate high-performance Aston Martin”.

The elegant yet muscular body of the V12 Vanquish S was given subtle but effective changes. The distinct Aston Martin grille was given a more rounded and open appearance for better cooling. It also had an aerodynamic splitter for better high-speed stability. They redesigned the boot lid at the rear to improve aerodynamics, lowering lift and giving it better balance and stability while also adding a high mounted stop lamp. All the improvements allowed the V12 Vanquish S to get an impressive 0.32 Cd figure.

Other enhancements include shorter steering arms and stiffer springs and dampers. The modified steering geometry allowed it to respond 20% quicker than the ‘standard’ Vanquish, and it also resulted in a lowered required input for steering response.

The brakes were also upgraded to accommodate bigger six piston calipers and bigger grooved and ventilated front discs. The rear discs are 2mm bigger for better heat dissipation. They used floating discs to give drivers the feel of a more consistent pedal during heavy breaking. A revised brake pedal assembly reduced travel and improved pedal feel.

Other innovations include the all-alloy, quad-overhead camshaft 48 valve, 6.0-liter V12 engine that increased the power from 460 bhp to 520 bhp (388kW) at 7000 rpm. The torque was also boosted so it can give 425 lb ft (577 Nm) at 5800 rpm.

Improvements on the engine include new cylinder heads with fully machined inlet ports and combustion chambers for better airflow. They also updated the engine mapping and placed new fuel injectors.

Final V12 Vanquish
Final V12 Vanquish
The final V12 Vanquish S Ultimate Edition rolls of the production linein July 2007

V12 Vanquish S Ultimate – the end of an era

In February 2007, Aston Martin announced that they will end new car production at Newport Pagnell. And production stopped until 2017 when the marque developed their successful Continuation program.

This historic announcement in 2007 was marked by the creation of a strictly limited run V12 Vanquish S Ultimate Edition sports cars.

The 40 cars were all made available by special request of their clients who wants to celebrate the last iteration of a highly significant car in Aston Martin’s history.

The cars were given a specific color and trim combination to set these cars apart. The coachwork was given an ‘Ultimate Black’ finish which is a unique metallic shade. For the interior, the cars were trimmed in semi-aniline leather with coarse stitching, leather headlining, and black chrome finish.

Each car also had a personalized sill plaque that displayed its limited-edition number.

V12 Vanquish plaque
V12 Vanquish plaque
A plaque denoting the final V12 Vanquish S Ultimate Edition

Aston Martin also produced a small number of white V12 Vanquish made for the Middle East, along with their European market Ultimate.

Paul Spires added, “Here at Newport we rightly celebrate the heritage of this great British sports car marque, with particular emphasis on icons such as the DB5 which were almost all built in this seemingly sometimes sleepy corner of Buckinghamshire. However, to also be able to lay claim to a ‘modern classic’ such as the original V12 Vanquish is a great honour for us, and I’m sure that in time people will come to view these cars with the same reverence that is afforded to the early DB cars.”

Best of the Current Aston Martin Lineup

The British automaker synonymous with the James Bond franchise is looking to extend its license to ‘thrill’ for 2021 and beyond. While its fame has primarily been built upon its quintessential lineup of grand tourers, Aston Martin – like so many of its compatriots – have started to adopt a more forward-thinking strategy, particularly with electrification in mind.

In fact, this strategy was supposed to be in full motion by 2020 via the Aston Martin Rapide E production vehicle – a fully-electric car based on the otherwise petrol-powered sedan it was meant to replace. Indications are that plans for the production of the Rapide E have been halted – temporarily, at least – with sources stating that all R&D up to this point will be used to bolster the company’s more long-term electrification targets.

With there no longer being a replacement for the base model Rapide, only the Rapide AMR has been representing the model from 2020 onwards. With its limited production run of just 210 units not yet fulfilled, the AMR will carry on into the 2021 model year. No word on when, or how this change of course will eventually result in the production of their first EV.

Perhaps it is a diversion of resources and focus on other ventures, which has led to this change in priorities. Since 2016, Aston Martin has been publicly announcing their expansion into other industries such as speed boats, aviation, fashion and real estate development with the intent on becoming more than just an automaker. The goal is to become an internationally recognized luxury brand.

What this will mean on the automotive front for Aston Martin’s near and distant future, becomes muddled in all the noise of what sounds like some sort of quest for world domination. Some solace can be found through the familiar; with the likes of the Vantage, DB11 and the DBS Superleggera still very much in the picture for 2021. The release of the all new Aston Martin DBX – the company’s first SUV – also shows signs of their commitment in remaining a relevant automaker for the long haul.

Here are the best brand new Aston Martin models you can purchase today.

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

Base MSRP: $304,995 USD, $334,700 USD (Volante)

Unquestionably, the DBS Superleggera sits at the pinnacle of the Aston Martin production grand touring range. Aggressive, yet beautiful. Super lightweight, yet powerfully strong. A commanding presence, yet lavishly finished. Equipped with the most powerful (non-hybrid) engine in the Aston Martin lineup, the DBS Superleggera’s 5.2L twin-turbocharged V12 outputs 715 hp @ 6,500 rpm; good for 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 211 mph.

The DBS Superleggera is also available in a fixed-roof-coupe or drop-top-Volante configuration – offering buyers more choices when it comes to experiencing the highest echelons of British GT road cars. The optional Studio Collection Pack ($18,700) offers that extra bit of grand touring perfection, with a Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Infotainment System, powered seat bolster adjustment, and other uber-luxury amenities forming part of the package.

Aston Martin Vantage AMR

Aston Martin Vantage AMR

Base MSRP: $183,081 USD

The Vantage AMR is a new breed of predator, 95 kg lighter in weight than the base model, and boasting a 7-speed rev-matching manual transmission. This is a beast designed to deliver pure, engaging, and intimate performance – Aston Martin’s interpretation of a “true driver’s car”. Even so, the playlist of purist essentials hardly ends there. Standard carbon-ceramics, an adaptive suspension system and a sportier exhaust, add an extra dose of delight to the senses while making the car all the more capable for those spirited canyon drives or occasional track days.

This is a car that can do everything brilliantly well, and the Aston Martin I’d enjoying driving everyday more than any other; and given the generous selection of world-class grand tourers to purchase from the British automaker, this serves as the ultimate compliment I could give the car.

Aston Martin DBX

Aston Martin DBX

Base MSRP: $192,986 USD

It’s important to include the DBX on this list because it is a big part of Aston Martin’s strategy to broaden their appeal in the international marketplace. It is meant to instill a more steady stream of income for the automaker, while improving the brand’s overall image. This outcome is not just good for the DBX itself, but for upstream models as well, so the success of their new SUV is something that company is really banking on.

Built on brand-new architecture, the DBX is designed to carry occupants in true Aston Martin style. Brimming with the latest technology to keep you safe, the DBX is comfortable, sumptuously luxurious, and will thrill you from the moment you sit behind the wheel. Thanks to lightweight aluminum construction, and its world-leading Aston Martin powertrain and suspension developed by the finest engineers of their kind, the DBX drives like no other SUV; it drives like a sports car and is considered by many outlets to be the best SUV on the market today, in terms of driving dynamics.

Aston Martin DB11 AMR

Aston Martin DB11 AMR

Base MSRP: $241,000 USD

The Aston Martin DB11 AMR is the new flagship car for the DB11 range. It comes standard with the model’s top engine option – a 5.2L twin-turbocharged V12 – boasting greater power, increased performance, enhanced driving dynamics and a more characterful exhaust note. In addition, the AMR features a specially-tuned powertrain and chassis; along with a number of styling queues and options which are exclusive to it.

The DB11 AMR may boast an intimidating 630 hp, but its overall demeanor remains that of a refined luxury GT car rather than a raw performance machine – and that ladies and gentlemen, is peak Aston Martin execution, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. Honestly, Aston Martin could probably get away with having the AMR as its sole DB11 model. It really is that good, and some believe it should’ve been what the DB11 was from the get-go.