"We've got our own Tesla benchmark car. I really like electric cars because I think the instant performance you get is so impressive - people think of electric cars as milk floats but obviously times have moved on and they're now a lot more exciting than they used to be. Aston is all about beauty and we can do that with an electric car. The biggest challenge for Aston will be sound: how do you create an exciting sound with an electric car?"
So how do you?
"I've no idea! You can't. So another attribute has to be at the forefront of electric cars to make up for one of the most important attributes we're going to lose."
And autonomous cars? Aston is such a performance-driven brand - how does automation fit in?
"We're thinking about autonomous cars, for sure. What you'll end up with when we go to autonomous is a choice - you switch it off or on - so the car still has to be engaging when you switch autonomy off. If we think a car we develop will be 70 or 80 per cent autonomous, you'll concentrate a lot more on things like ride quality and road isolation than you will if you have a car where autonomy is only going to be used 30 per cent of the time - in a sports car, for instance. You then switch your attributes to be more focused on handling and steering and performance rather than ride. Autonomy is exciting, but it's scary - it really is. It's going to be a challenge."
"It shows your technical expertise as a company; I think it's great. All the companies and OEMs are battling against each other; it's like Formula One - you have a set of rules and everyone comes out with their own car, but look at how competitive those cars are with each other - it's incredible considering they're all designing them themselves.
"But look at the Valkyrie relative to the Mercedes hypercar [just launched at Frankfurt] - the Mercedes has gone in a slightly different direction - I don't know what the weight of that car is, but I'm sure it's quite heavy. Whereas, if you look at what [Adrian] Newey's doing with the Aston (and I'm working together with him), it's all about aero, it's all about mass, so the cars are headed in slightly different directions. But I think it's great because it shows how technically competent the company is. Look at the Bugatti Chiron - they'll never make any money on them but it's a technology demonstrator for what they're capable of doing."
What's your input on Valkyrie?
"The Valkyrie project is run by Dave King's department [King is Chief Special Operations Officer, in charge of AMR and the motorsport side] - once the car gets going, I'll be involved. Because I'm not a racing driver, I'll be the road car side where I say, "It doesn't feel quite right for the road" - so I'll make sure it drives like an Aston when it needs to. I know what Adrian wants; he wants a car with a linear feel to it, that feels like an Aston at anything from 10mph to 200mph. He wants that connection in the car, that it feels appropriate."
"I'm a real Porsche fan, I really admire them. It seems like anything they bring out, whatever segment they go into, they smash it every time. You can see they're a bit Germanic, but just look at how many cars they sell and how profitable they are as a business. How many five-star reviews they get every time they bring a car out..."
You did a lot of consultancy in your 20-odd years at Lotus: are you working on Aston Martin Consultancy projects, like the Miami apartments?
"No, I'm surprised I don't. When I was at Lotus, the main part of my job for many years was doing third party engineering consultancy where we used to get out to China, India, Malaysia, all over the world doing consultancy on dynamics development, whereas that side of Aston Martin hasn't really taken off - it's been mainly all to do with design-based stuff like the Miami apartments. It's not to say we won't go to the engineering side in the future; we're just not at the moment."
"There are a lot of people who would kill for my job. It's an exciting place to be and I think automotive engineering has such a wide scope. Once you get into the field - there's electrical, body design development, chassis development, NVH [Noise, Vibration, Harshness] - such a wide span of what you can do. It's a good career to get into. The only thing I would say, is it doesn't pay as well as being a stockbroker - they earn the money to be able to afford to buy the cars, but then again, we get to drive the cars all the time..."
Aston Martin's CEO, Andy Palmer, is an engineer by trade, and he scouted you for the job at Aston. No pressure, then. How is it having an engineer as your boss?
"He's pretty good - he respects and trusts me. He drives the cars occasionally with me, but not so much any more - he's a busy man - but he trusts me to get on with it. He'll always come back with comments, I have to have an answer for them, or I'm in trouble."