Potent newcomer targets 911 Turbo… and even McLaren
The new Aston Martin Vantage has been unveiled. Higher in power and price, and equipped with an aggressive new look designed to put an ocean of clear water between it and the DB11, the new car represents many things – none more than the repositioning of Aston Martin’s entry-level offering.
Listed at £120,900, it increases by some £25,000 the lowest price you can pay to own a new Aston. The company is looking to move its brand away from the premium sector and present itself as a pure luxury offering. This means the new car’s closest rivals are now the Porsche 911 Turbo instead of the standard 911, the Mercedes-AMG GT S coupé and even the McLaren 540C.
The new Vantage is based on the same new bonded aluminium structure philosophy as the DB11, but is shorter of wheelbase and shares only 30 per cent common componentry. At its heart lies the Mercedes-AMG twin-turbo 4-litre V8 that has already been launched in the DB11, where it likewise produces 503bhp (a meaningful 73bhp increase on the output of the normally aspirated 4.7-litre V8 in the car it replaces). But what’s going to transform the performance of the car is the increase in torque from 361lb ft at 5000rpm to 505lb ft way down at 2000rpm. Even the 0-62mph time – which always unfairly discriminates against more powerful, traction-limited cars – suggests a whole new level of performance with a time of 3.7sec, down from the 4.8sec of the previous car. Put another way, Aston’s new entry-level car is now only 0.2sec slower than its flagship, the soon to be replaced Vanquish S.
Other key mechanical developments include the fitment of a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission in place of the old robotised seven-speed manual. There is no sign of the double-clutch gearbox used by Mercedes in the AMG GT, which has the same engine and transaxle configuration, nor is there as yet a manual option, probably because demand would likely be small and the cost of homologating one would be prohibitive because the engine was only ever designed with two pedals in mind.
The Vantage is also the first Aston Martin to use an electronically controlled differential, or E-diff. This offers the theoretical best of both worlds by being able to go from fully open to fully locked in a matter of milliseconds, depending on information fed to it by the stability control sensors. Active torque vectoring is also included.
Inside the Vantage’s looks are also entirely distinct from those of the DB11, despite their common Mercedes-Benz derived electronic architecture. It espouses the power-inspired design aesthetic of Aston creative director Marek Reichman and stands in contrast to the far gentler Vantage interior of old.
The new Aston Martin Vantage is available to order now, first deliveries taking place in the second quarter of 2018.
MURRAY HITS THE ROAD
Twenty-five years after his McLaren F1 changed the parameters of road-car performance by a greater margin than any seen before or since, its creator Gordon Murray has announced that he’s working on an all-new sports car design.
It will be developed, engineered and sold by a new company called Gordon Murray Automotive, under the IGM brand and from his new premises at Dunsfold Park, Surrey.
IGM stands for Ian Gordon Murray and was first given to the specials built by Murray in his native South Africa half a century ago.
Very little is known about the new car, as all that’s been released is an unilluminating teaser image, but it is clearly mid-engined and carries Murray’s trademark roof-mounted intake snorkel. It is known that it will be constructed using a new version of his patented iStream manufacturing process, where the usual tubular steel structure is replaced by high-strength aluminium to which composite panels are then attached for additional strength and rigidity.
Beyond that we can only speculate. And I would venture that Murray is not yet done with the arrowhead three-seat configuration seem on the F1. The car will obviously be designed with its creator’s legendary obsessive attitude to weight reduction and I would expect it to offer more than a modicum of practicality. I’d be amazed if it were powered by anything other than a normally aspirated petrol engine. But that’s it: how much power it will have, how fast it will be, how much it will cost and when we’ll even hear anything more about it is for Professor Murray to know and for us to find out. This extraordinary designer’s ability to keep the press guessing remains undimmed.
MORE NEW PORSCHES
Porsche has announced two new versions of its long-standing sports car models. First, predictably, come GTS versions of its 718 Boxster and Cayman, with a new 361bhp version of the 2.5-litre flat-four engine, an increase of 35 and 25bhp respectively over the last normally aspirated, six-cylinder Boxster and Cayman GTS. This takes both cars to 62mph in 4.1sec – a 0.2sec improvement. Both cars come with lowered suspension and the familiar blackened shades for the wheels and front and rear lights. The Cayman costs £59,886, the Boxster £61,727.
More unexpected is a new T version of the 911. Porsche geeks will remember the 911T launched 50 years ago as a detuned ‘touring’ version. With just 110bhp it was the least powerful 911 ever sold. The new 911T, though, is a standard Carrera with equipment relegated to the options list and some weight loss – no rear seats, much less sound deadening, lightweight glass and you can even delete the navigation and entertainment system. PASM suspension is now standard while rear-wheel steering becomes an option. Big 20in wheels and subtle cosmetic enhancements, including centralised rear pipes, fabric upholstery and a short shifter for manual versions, complete the picture.
It sounds rather like the sort of gentle massage that 20 years ago turned the 968 into the 968 ClubSport, and those have since become somewhat revered by collectors. The 911T costs £85,576; the first cars are due to arrive early in 2018.
Elon Musk, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur, stunned the motoring world in November with the surprise launch of a second generation Tesla Roadster.
On paper the new, all-electric car sets a fresh benchmark for performance. According to Musk, it can accelerate from 0-60mph in 1.9sec, has a top speed of 250mph and a range of 620 miles. Musk claims the new car, which was developed in top secrecy, will go on sale in two years and cost around $200,000, although production problems have already delayed deliveries of the company’s existing models. It is the second Tesla to wear the Roadster name. The original appeared in 2008 and was based on the Lotus Elise.