Aston Martin is not content with simply replacing its ageing line-up with fresh, shiny new cars. No: to achieve true success while future-proofing the company, a wholesale reinvention is in order.
“It all goes back to our second century plan,” Aston Martin’s VP and Chief Special Operations Officer David J King tells me. Said plan involves “growing our product range and having a foothold in every element of the luxury car space, not just relying on beautiful looking front-engined GT cars because that leaves us vulnerable to changes in trend,” he explains.
We’ve seen elements of this already - we’ve known about the company’s DBX SUV plans for a while now, and it’s been a year since Lagonda was spun off as a separate entity to eventually build hyper-luxurious electric vehicles. The most exciting bit has involved the Valkyrie (below) and the newly revealed AM-RB 003 (above), effectively King’s babies, but arguably much more significant is what these two hypercars lead to - a proper, series production mid-engined supercar.
No caps to the production number, no seven-figure price tag - this car is all about competing with the likes of the McLaren 720S and the new Ferrari F8 Tributo, plus whatever’s likely to come next - the market could change drastically by the time the car arrives in 2022. It is, however, already here in concept form as the Vanquish Vision concept. It may only be a model at this stage, and it may be sharing its Geneva Motor Show with a more complete AM-RB 003 concept plus the first Valkyrie prototype, but it has plenty of presence in the metal.
It’s important that the three are together here, too. Valkyrie wasn’t about testing the waters - it was always going to be the start of a whole new mid-engined sports car lineage at Aston Martin. “We knew at the time that would be a series of other cars coming from Valkyrie - the cascade of the bloodline through another two cars was planned,” King says.
This is a “top-down” approach that will see tech trickling down from the Valkyrie through the 003 to the Vanquish. Valkyrie has ultimate engine bragging rights with its Cosworth-built N/A V12 that revs to 11,100rpm, but the other two are set to use a powerplant which has much bigger ramifications for Aston Martin as a whole: an all-new V6 designed and built by Gaydon itself.
It’s Aston’s first engine in decades, set to be built somewhere in the UK at a brand new facility. King remains coy on technical details, although he does confirm that the engine in both cars will feature some level of hybridisation. 003 will inevitably have a greater level of electrical power, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see involvement from Rimac, with the Croatian firm already supplying batteries for the Valkyrie’s F1 Kers-style hybrid system.
The decision to go for a V6 “comes from the culmination of the power, the weight, the package, and the emission requirements for the long term,” King explains. It’s not enough being powerful, the Vanquish will have some extremely tight emissions regulations to tackle. Work on the unit is well underway - Aston Martin fired a prototype up on the bench for the first time very recently.
When the production Vanquish arrives, it should hopefully stay true to the Vision. “Hopefully our track record says that when we show a concept car it ends up looking quite like the production car,” King says, using the example of the Valkyrie, with the concept and production versions indeed being very similar aesthetically. “Every surface will change a little bit as we learn more about the car, but I expect it will come pretty true to the shapes and styles you see here.”
But what about the name? Will it stay? The official line is it’s “likely,” but King seems especially keen for it to return. “The first time we used Vanquish was a pretty special car - a car that went on to be one of our icons of the last 15-20 years. I’m not sure we did it justice the second time we used the Vanquish name,” he says. “This is about re-establishing Vanquish as sitting at the top of our mainstream production car range.
“It’s such a cool name. We’ve got to keep using it, and it feels like the right car to use it on.”