RE: PH Footnote: Mid-Engined Aston Martins

RE: PH Footnote: Mid-Engined Aston Martins

Saturday 13th January

PH Footnote: Mid-Engined Aston Martins

How Gaydon is preparing to blaze a new trail in its Second Century



Even if CEO Andy Palmer hadn't confirmed as much back in October, we could be pretty sure from its recruitment activity that Aston Martin was in the midst of developing a mid-engined performance car. We know the £2.5m Valkyrie is on its way, of course, high-revving V12 motor mounted mid-ships, but Gaydon is bringing a mainstream mid-engined supercar to market, too.

Palmer has already said that the new vehicle, due to arrive in 2021, will be a rival for the Ferrari 488 GTB, the car he considers to be the benchmark in the sector.

Since day one, though, Aston Martin has built front-engined cars. It's as ingrained within the fibre of the brand as four-wheel drive is at Audi. To navigate the somewhat significant issue of not actually knowing how to build a mid-engined car, Aston Martin has been on an aggressive recruitment drive. It's been hiring left, right and centre (or should that be middle?) In fact, if you've spent any meaningful length of time developing such cars, there's a pretty good chance Palmer will be phoning you up sometime soon.


A little over a year ago Aston poached Max Szwaj from Ferrari, where he was Head of Innovation and Body Engineering. He now holds the illustrious post of Chief Technical Officer at Aston Martin. Around the same time Gaydon also recruited Matt Becker from Lotus, hoping, one suspects, that he would sprinkle the same ride and handling magic dust over Warwickshire as he did over Norfolk. Coming from Ferrari and Lotus respectively, Szwaj and Becker will, of course, be very well versed in the ways of the mid-engined performance car. Perhaps the most surprising appointment of all, though, was that of Chris Goodwin from McLaren. Surprising because, very new though the road car business is, Goodwin just seemed like a McLaren man through and through.

There have been plenty of behind the scenes appointments, too, all of which mean Aston Martin now has a wealth of mid-engined experience within its ranks. This tells us one very encouraging thing; Aston Martin is not moving into this sector lightly. I spoke recently to the marque's Chief Marketing Officer Simon Sproule, who pointed out that the high performance market is heading in only one direction. Wealthy performance car buyers, he says, increasingly want the harder-edged dynamics, exoticism and visual theatre of a mid-engined car.


All of which leaves us to ponder, for the next three years at least, exactly what a mid-engined Aston Martin might be like. Me? I think it'll be unlike anything we've seen from Aston before, and not just because the engine will have been dropped in behind the cabin. I reckon Aston Martin will depart from its century-old grand touring background entirely, not get bogged down in making it any more useable or comfortable than it needs to be and deliver a genuine, focussed alternative to the 488 GTB and McLaren 720S. It will not in any way be a mid-engined GT car. (We can revisit this piece in 2021 and consider just how wildly inaccurate my prediction was.)

There are no further details out there just yet. We don't know what the car's underpinnings will be - carbon fibre tub? - nor do we know how it'll be powered. Palmer has promised, though, that the car will not be styled so much by airflow as by the eye. It will bring beauty to the sector, apparently.

It's tremendous news, no doubt, but you can't help but wonder just how many £200,000 (or thereabouts) supercars the market can support. It's getting very crowded in there. The rich keep on getting richer, though, and Aston Martin certainly has the brand kudos to stand toe-to-toe with the established proponents of mid-engined architecture. Given that the car will be straying away from almost 110 years of Aston Martin heritage, perhaps it could be called the Vagabond.

Author
Discussion

Mantis1964

Original Poster:

22 posts

53 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
It would worry me that Andy Palmer considers the 488 to be the benchmark. It's some way behind the benchmark now.

Mantis1964

Original Poster:

22 posts

53 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
It would worry me that Andy Palmer considers the 488 to be the benchmark. It's some way behind the benchmark now.

je777

236 posts

35 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
The worst thing they could do, styling-wise, is insist it 'looks like an Aston' and thus end up with the sort of monstrosity pictured or, as an example, the Porsche Panamera.
Your cars don't all have to look the same. Why do manufacturers think that's an advantage? (And aren't people who spend £100k on a car irked that it looks like the £30k car?)

macdeb

7,072 posts

186 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
Aston Martin arte going from strength to strength and I wish them all the very best with it.

GingerPixel

57 posts

77 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
Won't the 488 be getting a little long in the tooth to be a benchmark by the time 2021 comes around?

Having a mid engine GT must be somewhat motivated by going racing.
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Rick101

5,505 posts

81 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
Looking very much like an Evora.

Agent XXX

1,032 posts

37 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
Interesting colour choice.............


big_rob_sydney

2,051 posts

125 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
To me, every AM for the last 1000 years has looked the same.

And they've had st gearboxes that refuse the change down when asked for god knows how long. Whose engine are they using this time? Why not just buy the whole car from whoever provides the engine? I don't see the point in it.

can't remember

515 posts

59 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
Palmer has already said that the new vehicle, due to arrive in 2021, will be a rival for the Ferrari 488 GTB, the car he considers to be the benchmark in the sector.

This is all sorts of wrong. A rival for what will be close to a decade old car, that's not even the market leader now. I hope this was just a clumsy quote.

Plug Life

783 posts

22 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
PH Footnote said:
Given that the car will be straying away from almost 110 years of Aston Martin heritage, perhaps it could be called the Vagabond.
Or Vagina, facing the phallic long-bonneted heritage AMs.

HeMightBeBanned

499 posts

109 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
big_rob_sydney said:
To me, every AM for the last 1000 years has looked the same.

And they've had st gearboxes that refuse the change down when asked for god knows how long. Whose engine are they using this time? Why not just buy the whole car from whoever provides the engine? I don't see the point in it.
Angry troll is angry.

RobDown

2,828 posts

59 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
Andy Palmer has done an amazing job with the company. Future is looking bright smile

RobDown

2,828 posts

59 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
big_rob_sydney said:
To me, every AM for the last 1000 years has looked the same.

And they've had st gearboxes that refuse the change down when asked for god knows how long. Whose engine are they using this time? Why not just buy the whole car from whoever provides the engine? I don't see the point in it.
If you cant tell the difference between a DB5 and a DB11 i think you shouldn't be on the roads smile

NJH

2,798 posts

140 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
Well I hope they have the balls to go for a cut price Valkyrie rather than another big wide heavy car sports car.

Max_Torque

12,410 posts

148 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
Could i add a few, i think, rather important points:

1) No one these days is a << insert name of one car company here>> man (or woman) any longer. All modern cars are basically the same, built from the pool of standard components supplied by the massive, multinational Tier1 companies (Bosch, GKN, Valeo, Denso, ZF, Mahle, etc etc). An engineer will move based on "money" and "interest" For example, Chris Goodwin, a smart, driven man, is excused from leaving MAL to go to AML (funny the initials are the same letters!) to get 1) more cash and 2) the rewarding oportunity to help build up a car from scratch, something he's proven he can do at MAL.

2) Aston have recently had a number of high level losses. For example, an AML stalwart Ian Minards, for years a leading figure in PD at AML, snatched away by Dyson to bring some much needed authority and weight to its fledgling (and somewhat challenging) first foray into the automotive market. Refilling those gaps was always going to require someone of equivalent stature, and that means someone from within the industry.


3) The big question though, imo, is considering what the powertrain architecture of a mid-engineed Aston will be. The BIW is easy, AML already do fully stressed 'plate and beam' aluminium structures, and move to a carbon tub is frankly pretty easy these days (with several low volume suppliers of such things). No, the million dollar question is what to power it with! Given the current and accelerating (sic) sea change in passenger car electrification technology, you'd be a brave man to just fit a V8. The flip side question then becomes "is a mid engineed sports EV an Aston Martin?" And if it is, what makes it one, when the two most defining factors of Aston's History have been lost? (Big V engine, at the front). Experience suggests it's very difficult to come up with a BIW architecture that can house, and be optimised for both an ICE and an EV powertrain, so it may have to be 'one or the other'

Edited by Max_Torque on Saturday 13th January 14:08

ChilliWhizz

8,420 posts

92 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
'Vagabond' hehe

Plate spinner

12,664 posts

131 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
Max_Torque said:
Could i add a few, i think, rather important points:

1) No one these days is a << insert name of one car company here>> man (or woman) any longer. All modern cars are basically the same, built from the pool of standard components supplied by the massive, multinational Tier1 companies (Bosch, GKN, Valeo, Denso, ZF, Mahle, etc etc). An engineer will move based on "money" and "interest" For example, Chris Goodwin, a smart, driven man, is excused from leaving MAL to go to AML (funny the initials are the same letters!) to get 1) more cash and 2) the rewarding oportunity to help build up a car from scratch, something he's proven he can do at MAL.

2) Aston have recently had a number of high level losses. For example, an AML stalwart Ian Minards, for years a leading figure in PD at AML, snatched away by Dyson to bring some much needed authority and weight to its fledgling (and somewhat challenging) first foray into the automotive market. Refilling those gaps was always going to require someone of equivalent stature, and that means someone from within the industry.


3) The big question though, imo, is considering what the powertrain architecture of a mid-engineed Aston will be. The BIW is easy, AML already do fully stressed 'plate and beam' aluminium structures, and move to a carbon tub is frankly pretty easy these days (with several low volume suppliers of such things). No, the million dollar question is what to power it with! Given the current and accelerating (sic) sea change in passenger car electrification technology, you'd be a brave man to just fit a V8. The flip side question then becomes "is a mid engineed sports EV an Aston Martin?" And if it is, what makes it one, when the two most defining factors of Aston's History have been lost? (Big V engine, at the front). Experience suggests it's very difficult to come up with a BIW architecture that can house, and be optimised for both an ICE and an EV powertrain, so it may be 'one or the other'
<clicks like button>

GranCab

1,152 posts

77 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
can't remember said:
Palmer has already said that the new vehicle, due to arrive in 2021, will be a rival for the Ferrari 488 GTB, the car he considers to be the benchmark in the sector.

This is all sorts of wrong. A rival for what will be close to a decade old car, that's not even the market leader now. I hope this was just a clumsy quote.
488 will be SIX years old in 2021 ....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrari_488

... and will probably be replaced by the "499" that year smile

borat52

68 posts

139 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
It’s mid engine so it won’t be pure EV and given Aston are buying power plants from AMG I’d be shocked if it’s in any way electrified.

Mid engine rwd , 1200kg sub £200k and sexy as f*** to look at - imho that’s the car Aston have needs for 10 years now to get the brand beyond the “everything has to look like a DB7” phase. They need a new selling point and making a technically excellent car that looks ace would do it for me.

bigbadbikercats

534 posts

139 months

Saturday 13th January
quotequote all
borat52 said:
...given Aston are buying power plants from AMG I’d be shocked if it’s in any way electrified.
Hmmm... AMG have this neat little 1.6 litre V6 turbo hybrid power unit they’ Looking to put in a road car...

And no, I don’t think there’s the slightest chance of that actually happening, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if AMG have a less extreme interpretation of the F1 derived power plant on the drawing board somewhere. if you can’t generate your outrage with a bloody great N/A V8 anymore then you’ve got to find another way of stopping people in their tracks.