It's here and it's beautiful. The new 'baby' Aston Martin was unveiled in Detroit to an eager audience and it didn't disappoint. After much speculation about what it would be called it would appear to have been granted the mantle of 'AMV8 Vantage'. Vantage used to be reserved for high(er) performance version of Aston models but all versions of this car will be known as Vantage.
It's to be powered by a 4.3 litre V8, probably good for around the magic 400bhp. Positioned ahead of the driver but set back in the chassis, the brand new all aluminium V8 helps achieve a near perfect 50:50 weight distribution thanks also to the six speed transaxle at the rear. Over the course of its life we can expect some hotter versions as well as a convertible.
The car is very much an Aston drawing on themes from both of its big brothers - the Vanquish and the DB7. The styling might be conservative, but it's every inch an Aston thanks to Design Director Henrik Fisker. He was lured away from BMW where his most notable achievement was the Z8. He's certainly not taken any risks with the AMV8 Vantage (that name's getting a bit of a mouthful already...) but in an age when many designers think wacky is the way forward, some good old fashioned style is a welcome sight.
This will be a milestone car for Aston Martin. Recent years have seen many changes for the company. No longer are cars assembled by a posse of pensioners in brown coats. Modern production techniques, composite materials and a new factory are the way of the future. The aluminium and composite bodied AMV8 Vantage will be built at Aston's new factory at Gaydon. And in numbers too. Not content with rolling out a couple of cars a year and losing money hand over fist, new owners Ford have the rather eccentric idea of making 5,000 AMV8V's a year!
Aston Martin chairman Ulrich Bez (yet another German with his hand on the tiller of a British marque) wants to take the battle to Porsche. With a street price of around £60K expected it will take Aston Martin into a market segment in which it hasn't dabbled before. A market segment dominated by Porsche.
For us car buying punters though, it is a dream come true. Many enthusiasts who lust after such cars wouldn't consider a Porsche for all the wrong reasons. The same reasons that make the Aston so appealing. The cache associated with owning an Aston Martin is enormous. For us Brits its spine tingling Britishness. It's fish and chips and James Bond and a Sunday Roast rolled into one. A genuine Aston Martin is finally within the reach of many. Ford must be congratulated on this car. It isn't a rebodied XJR or compromise of any sort - it's an Aston through and through. This car will rank amongst the most desirable on the planet.
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