Aston Martin 'not lazy' - official

Aston Martin VH (vertical horizontal) is an engineering methodology, not a platform. That's us told, then. Seems we have it all wrong in assuming Aston's 2004-vintage underpinnings link V8 Vantage to DBS in the same way a SEAT Leon is a VW Golf in a Flamenco dress. It's more granular than that, as Aston Martin director of product development Ian Minards explains.

VH started with the Vanquish - has it moved on?
VH started with the Vanquish - has it moved on?
What IS VH, then? "The 'V' vertical bit signifies shared body construction principles across all models, while 'H' signifies systems shared horizontally through the cars - components such as front and rear suspension units, engines and dashboards," Minards says.

"It's like fine dining. We can take the best ingredients and cook to different flavours."

Hard to swallow
Something that many of us might take with a pinch of gourmet rock salt. But Minards continues. Being so modular means Aston rolls out all-new systems easily, as they become available rather than at model change time - both in-house core competencies and ones developed with engineering partners such as ZF, Recaro, Cosworth and Continental.

Aston  Martin's Ian Minards: VH is not a platform
Aston Martin's Ian Minards: VH is not a platform
Everything is an individual system (an 'H') and can be developed or replaced independently of others - something that can't be done with a regular platform-based architecture. It also means Aston can push boundaries with cars like the One-77, then roll out its tech on series production cars once proven: see the variable valve timing or all-carbon fibre body on the new Vanquish.

Still to be convinced Vanquish product manager Andy Haslam picks up the story. And goes back to basics: VH is, um, not a platform. Because it's a bonded monocoque of die-cast, extruded and stamped aluminium components - think of it like McLaren's carbon fibre MonoCell - to which different components can (or will be) attached. Or, Lotus' bonded aluminium chassis principle, which creates different cars from a shared central core.

Original DB9 is considered 'VH 1'
Original DB9 is considered 'VH 1'
The Lotus link is appropriate. It helped develop the original Vanquish platform, which was the precursor to Aston's in-house VH architecture. Dr Ulrich Bez himself convinced cost-conscious Ford to green light because of the sheer flexibility designed into it, thus neatly avoiding the risk of any Ford-derived Astons. Shudder. The Vanquish is now generally regarded as 'VH 0'.

Tuning in to VH 1 ... 2, 3 and 4
VH generation 1 was the 2004 DB9. The V8 Vantage was also derived from this chassis. "It established our foundation," says Minards.

Generation 2 arrived with the DBS and, later, the V12 Vantage. "On V, it introduced carbon fibre, for H, it brought in adaptive damping and carbon brakes." Rapide, with its stretched wheelbase, was generation 3, "with better sealing, laminated glass and isolated subframes". Vantage S and Virage were also derived from this iteration.

All-carbon new Vanquish represents  VH 4
All-carbon new Vanquish represents VH 4
Now, we have VH 4 in Vanquish: all-carbon fibre body, AM11 engine that's more than three-quarters different, new infotainment systems and centre console structure, all-new front crash structure, an engine 19mm lower, even bigger footwells and a full carbon fibre end that means the boot is 60 per cent larger. Three stages on from the original DB9, then, picking up all the systems improvements along the way ("we don't simply throw learning away" says Haslam) and adding a generation's worth of its own.

Aston's VH mistake
Where it's failed in recent years, it seems, is to almost use the VH methodology cynically to create 'new' cars. Witness the identikit DB9, DBS and Virage. That's over, it seems. Now, we have DB9, Vanquish, and clear water between them. The methodology will be used to improve the core cars rather than spin off new ones. Lesson learnt for Aston: now it's over to us to see the true benefits of VH.

One-77 takes the VH concept to extremes
One-77 takes the VH concept to extremes
Basically, it seems Aston has actually been ahead of the game for the past decade. For validation, take Volkswagen. It's making a fuss about its new MQB platform, which underpins the Golf and which is flexible enough to form the basis of all VW Group's mid-range cars in the future. It's far more modular than the old PQ35 platform - but MQB is only doing what VH has done since the launch of the DB9...





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Comments (184) Join the discussion on the forum

  • cmoose 30 Oct 2012

    Guycord said:
    Get yer ears tested mate....sounds like a Nanny-Goat pissing in a tin to me.
    You can't possibly have driven one!

  • George H 30 Oct 2012

    Pr1964 said:
    I must be too thick to understand,,,,,,
    I concur. At least we have been able to agree on something.

  • George H 29 Oct 2012

    Pr1964 said:
    I know one slip up and it's handbags at dawn....
    I think it's more aimed at your constant whinging about Aston rather than you getting the figures wrong. If you don't like Astons - don't buy one. It's quite simple, but you seem to want to just try and pit everyone off them by coming up with utter bks.

    Here's a few examples:

    Pr1964 said:
    An Austin Westminster from the 60's has more class in one door handle than any recent Aston Martin.
    rolleyes I didn't realise that class could be measured.

    Pr1964 said:
    Without 007 it would be just another bankrupt British car company.
    I do not know of one Aston owner who has bought a car because of the James Bond connection. Go ask on the Aston forum to see how many have?

    Pr1964 said:
    Astons ALL look the bloody SAME !!!!!

    VH doesn't work !

    WTF is wrong with AM ? Ferrari can make beautiful cars every few years AM make the SAME car for YEARS AND YEARS .....

    LAZY the end.
    I'm not even going to bother explaining why Astons look similar to each other again because you're obviously too thick to understand.

    Pr1964 said:
    Nope the early V8V's have a much better quality about them nice leather etc.

    The One-77 was a very limited run pity the regular cars arn't as nice looking.

    The Jag's there to show how Aston Martins look cheap because they look a lot more like Jags than Astons.
    so despite you saying all Astons look the same, you say the One-77 looks different? Well done for contradicting yourself. And to say that Aston have copied off Jags design is laughable.

  • Zod 29 Oct 2012

    Pr1964 said:
    Zod said:
    Given Aston's record annual sales number is c.6000, pr1964's post, like all his others in this thread is worthless.
    That's like saying because all recent aston's look the same (like a Mitsubishi GTO) then all Aston martins are st.

    You are not exactly helping your case with that.

  • Zod 29 Oct 2012

    George H said:
    Pr1964 said:
    Sounds good looks the same.

    Sales of Aston martins according to the business papers

    2007 110,000
    2011 62,000

    I guess everyone who wanted an Aston has bought one now no point in buying another because they look exactly the same as a 2007 model.

    An Austin Westminster from the 60's has more class in one door handle than any recent Aston Martin.

    And for a company which loses millions yearly it's pretty good that the share holders have been getting millions in dividends.

    Without 007 it would be just another bankrupt British car company.
    I sincerely doubt Aston sold 110000 cars in a year. I suspect your figures are a load of bks. Fits in well with the rest of the ste you're talking rolleyes
    Given Aston's record annual sales number is c.6000, pr1964's post, like all his others in this thread is worthless.

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