Friday, August 21, 2009

Le Mans Series - Aston Martin Racing lead way

2009 Montmelo Lola Aston Martin Mucke Enge Charouz - 0

Driving line-up Jan Charouz, Tomas Enge and Stefan Mucke took the spoils in the Lola Aston Martin, Mucke setting the best lap of a minute, 43.514 seconds.

Second in that afternoon session were Strakka Racing whose Ginetta Zytek was driven by Dany Watts and Nick Leventis.

Kolles Audi trio Narain Karthikeyan, Andy Meyrick and Charles Zwolsman were third after finishing fifth in a wetter first practice behind the other Kolles team of Christian Albers, Christian Bakkerud and Giorgio Mondini.

Driving the Speedy Team's number 13 Lolo Aston Martin were Andrea Belicchi, Marcel Fassler and Nicolas Prost.

Behind them in the morning were Pescarolo Sport (Jean-Christophe Boullion, Christophe Tinseau and Emmanuel Collard) and the afternoon-leading Aston Martin Racing line-up.

2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante

2010_aston_martin_dbs_volanteLet’s get it out of the way right at the top: The new convertible version of Aston’s V-12 powered 2+2 grand tourer (with automatic transmission) carries a sticker price of $285,990.

That’s crazy, right, as we struggle to emerge from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression?

But let’s consider this: The DBS Volante is the most drop-dead gorgeous, most satisfying car I can ever remember driving.

More refined and sophisticated in appearance than a typical Italian supercar, yet more expressive than a Porsche or a Jaguar, the Aston is stunning to look at. Every detail, from the four mesh inserts in the hood and the flared headlamp openings to the carbon fiber door handles is executed with an extra helping of panache that elevates it from the merely attractive to the alluring.

My test car glowed in a hue that Aston endearingly describes as Hardly Green that was both unique and eye-catching, and worked nicely with the brown leather surface coverings.

The view from behind the wheel is no less stunning. The winged Aston emblem dominates the steering wheel, the instruments are finely calibrated, and the Bang and Olufsen audio provides superb fidelity.

Fire up the six-liter engine by inserting the ignition device in its slot, and the Aston barks to life. Onlookers snap to attention. Select a gear by punching one of the traditional Aston dashboard buttons and you are off.

Power arrives smoothly and you can feel the six-speed transmission shifting smoothly up and down through the gears, proceeding so smartly that manual gear changes would be an insult to the software.

My agreement with Aston prohibited me from performance tests like 0-60 acceleration, so I can only report the company’s claim that 62 miles per hour can be reached in 4.3 seconds and top speed is 191 miles per hour.

As for flaws, I can identify but two: The carbon fiber chin spoiler is so close to the ground that it inhibits travel over rough surfaces, and the trunk is too tight to accept a bag of golf clubs.

But practicality isn’t the point here. Like a fine watch, the DBS Volante represents an ambitious expression of the mechanical arts.

Aston Martin One-77

Aston Martin One-77 at Galpin Motors

£1.25 million. That's Brit-speak for $1,800,000, give or take. A staggering amount of money. More than a Bugatti Veyron, more than a Lamborghini Reventón. Quite simply the most expensive new car, well, ever. Er, well, it would have been if not for the $2.2 million Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport. And for what? Before last night, we would have said nearly two million smackeroos gets you a widened DB9 with a large 7.3-liter V-12. Yes, there will be only seventy-seven hand built Aston Martin One-77s made, but so what? That's just way too much lucre, filthy or otherwise.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009




DB9 Touch tronic Volante, the ultimate GT car.

Presented in Celeste blue with full cream leather interior and blue dash top. Bright finish chrome grill, heated electric sports leather, Power fold mirrors, Satellite Navigation, Full electric roof, stunning throughout complemented with a full Aston Martin history from new.

Aston Martin Rapide is Ready

Aston Martin Rapide
Aston Martin Rapide
Aston Martin Rapide
Aston Martin Rapide
Aston Martin Rapide

Aston Martin Rapide
52 degrees Celsius, there’s a hot wind whipping up the desert into a small sandstorm, and we’re on a road arrowing us straight at the Iraqi border. Kuwait isn’t really the place I was expecting to have my first encounter with the new Aston Martin Rapide.

We’ve joined the car’s development team hot weather testing and the Middle East is a rather apt location. The eastern world prefers its premium cars with a full complement of doors, so the Rapide is set to be key in establishing Aston in emerging markets such as the Arab states and China.

When we first see the Rapide, initial impressions are of a car just like the concept – a longer DB9 with a smidge more practicality. There are subtle differences, though. Sleeker headlights and a more intricately contoured roofline adjust the proportions enough to alert trained eyes should one pop up in your rear view mirror. And the rear styling is neater and somehow better resolved than the coupe’s. That’s despite containing a sizeable hatchback in a rear overhang of near identical size and shape to the two-door’s.

Yep, a hatchback. Like the Porsche Panamera, the Rapide boasts five doors rather than four, although you won’t hear the H-word from either manufacturer. The two aren’t going to be direct foes, however – the German boasts luxurious levels of space in its rear quarters, while the Rapide is more of a 2+2. Its rear pews provide enough room for a couple of average-sized adults on a trip to the pub or a short commute, but they’ll need to contort themselves a bit, while the high transmission tunnel and shallow rear windows add to the feeling of snugness.

During its development, Aston’s benchmarks for the Rapide have been the Mercedes CLS, Ferrari 612 and Maserati GranTurismo – performance cars that all boast rear seats but are unlikely to have been bought with chauffeuring duties in mind. Kids should be just fine, though, making this an Aston for the family man. Or, indeed, for a wealthy and emerging Middle East market.

The climate is surreal – it feels like we’re bordering the sun, not Saudi Arabia, with the heat seeming to hit you as much from the ground as from the sky. Virtually the full day will be spent in or around the car, and we’re not going to see less than 45 degrees on its temperature gauge. It’s actually an environment harsher than that served up by North America’s Death Valley, a traditional hideout for prototype cars like these.

These are the advanced stages of the Rapide’s testing, with the final production-spec car being revealed at September’s Frankfurt motor show. The development programme has been going on since June 2007, when Aston Martin’s new shareholders – backed by Kuwaiti investors, funnily enough – gave the go ahead for the 2006 concept to go into production.

After a computerised design and packaging study, two very rough DB9-based mules (codenamed X1) began testing, one focused on ‘thermal and cooling’ and the other on ‘powertrain and dynamics’. Aston then built five bespoke Rapide prototypes (called M1) on which the bulk of development – especially the underbody stuff – was carried out.

We’re part of the next stage, where 14 much more advanced cars – Verification Prototypes (VPs) – are used to rigorously check lots of specific parameters in specialised locations: durability at the Ring, for instance, and brake noise testing at Nardo. Just a few Tooling Tryout (TT) cars will undergo final analysis this October and they are intended to be in saleable condition, which makes the VP stage crucial for picking up problems and ironing out any niggles.
Aston Martin Rapide
Aston Martin Rapide
Aston Martin Rapide
Aston Martin Rapide

Aston Martin DBS Volante Convertible

Aston Martin DBS Volante
When you love the performance of a particular coupe, it's not often that you get to hop in the convertible version and say to yourself, "So... you mean I can have the same thing with the top down?" But in between the tight and relentless esses of Monterey's Carmel Valley Road, that's what we found ourselves debating. What we settled on was this: While the handling envelope of the DBS coupe is excellent, the envelope of the DBS Volante is, well, excellent. Follow the jump for our thoughts.
Aston's coupes tug at several of our senses – and thoroughly at that – in a way that isn't merely competent components living together, but as a living, breathing organism that speaks to you. The company's convertibles, though, will not be forgotten, primarily because they are exactly what we want in roofless motoring: everything from the coupe, without a top. It doesn't happen often, and especially not when it comes to performance cars.

Yet that is what all of the company's roadsters deliver – same performance, more sun. The DBS Volante doesn't veer from that assessment. However, we did find something new in the Aston script with this car. It was so good at what it did that we quickly forgot what we were driving, and didn't care to remember.

Allow us to explain: the DBS coupe is a hard-edged beast covered in aluminum and stitched leather. Put the top down on the DBS Volante, and you're gently cruising in a hard-edged beast covered in aluminum and stitched leather but with a cabin full of glorious sunlight. Nothing new there.

The DBS, though, isn't a beast that wants only to cruise. It wants to run. It loves to run. And when it runs, the back of it is alive with twin baritone squalls. In the DBS Volante, those V12 sirens aren't somewhere "back there," they're in the back seats, right behind your headrest, so close it's like they're trying to climb into the front seats to see where they're taking you. The noise from that 6.0-liter V12, which produces 510 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, is simply audacious.



Monday, August 17, 2009

2009 Aston Martin Vantage V8 Review

side doors
The V8 Vantage performs incredibly well, but that's not why I adore it so much. The Aston's appeal is an emotional one. It makes you feel like a rock star, it inspires you to love life.
2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe
door controls
trunk interior
front view
Not just because of the way it turns heads. Granted, the gorgeous shape is a big factor in my affection, but the body is also an integral aspect of the car's aggressive stance, which, thanks to its engine placement behind the front axle and the rear transaxle, contributes so much to the Aston's nimble, well-balanced (but ultimately not class-leading) handling.

The interior is downright sensual. The cabin has so many luscious details: the leather-covered forward door frames curling up from the wide aluminum-covered rocker panels; the incredibly well-wrought sun visors, cupholders, and center console (all of which are too delicately small to be very useful, but who cares?); the thick white stitching in the supple black leather, which is everywhere you look, not just in the form-fitting chairs; the awesome Alcantara headliner that's thickly padded and feels great.
front view

The paddle-shifted, automated manual transmission loves to bang off hard, crisp upshifts when you're working it hard, but the gearbox seems to protest with sluggish shifts when you put it in "D" and try to drive like a sane person. The best way to maneuver smoothly around town is to work the paddles as you would a stick shift, lifting your foot off the gas between shifts.

2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante

An amalgamation of remarkable contrasts, precisely juxtaposed to form something absolutely extraordinary, the Aston Martin DBS Volante both intrigues and enthralls in a way no other car I’ve experienced can.

Depressing the elegant and distinctive crystalline starter button unleashes an unexpectedly vicious bark from the exhaust system. Remarkably, while the sound is the unmistakable aural signature of a high performance car, the resonant burble the engine settles into exudes sophistication wholly evocative of the handcrafted consideration that went into its creation.

And frankly, the same can be said about every other aspect of the car.

On the one hand, every aspect of the DBS is set up to accommodate high-speed operation. On the other, it is all cloaked in a graciousness not typically associated with that purpose. The seats are a perfect example; deeply bolstered and supportive, seemingly straight out of a racing car, they are finished in leather so supple a newborn’s face feels rough in comparison.

One marvels repeatedly at the way the trappings of luxury have been bent to serve the needs of the enthusiast driver. And underway, I quickly came to understand why this is so.

Said succinctly, this car flat flies y’all!

Snapping the throttle to the floor releases that bark again, except this time it’s more of an enthusiastic snarl as the 510-horsepower, hand-assembled 6.0-liter V12 begins to deliver its 420 ft-lbs of torque. And while you’re relishing the sound's beauty, affording it a mere four seconds of your attention, the Aston is streaking past 60 miles per hour with lots of room left on the tachometer before the shift from first to second comes due.

Here’s the rub though, as vicious as it sounds, the DBS Volante accrues speed so smoothly and routinely you have to take in the blurring of the scenery to truly get a sense of the magnitude of it. And when you do, it all comes together in one great rush.

Braking for the first corner, the firmness of the pedal, combined with the ease with which the modulation of braking forces can be accomplished, simultaneously astonishes and instills confidence. The huge carbon brakes enable the Aston considerable generosity; the Volante relinquishes speed just as quickly as it amasses it. Turning into the curve, you’re treated to near mathematical precision from the steering, accompanied by tremendous adhesion to the tarmac.

As the Aston slices into the corner – displaying inimitable stability and control – your smile, the one you previously thought was a broad one, now spreads to encompass your entire face as you peg the throttle coming off of the apex and go racing off toward the next opportunity to repeat the process.

Yeah, it really is that good.

But, on the other hand, when conditions inhibit that exercise, and your attention returns to the interior, everywhere you look the eye is rewarded with yet another outstanding example of beauty and attention to detail. In fact, the utter civility of it all will have you saying to your companion – even if you've never spoken this way in your life – “Do be a dear and activate the audio system, would you?”

Afforded but a brief drive in the Aston Martin, I can tell you it is an experience quite unlike any other. Lots of cars are fast and lots of cars are luxurious. And quite a few (most of them English, by the way) are both sinfully luxurious and fast. But the Aston Martin DBS Volante has the intoxicating blend of pace and grace absolutely optimally dialed in.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Aston Martin Rapide

The new Aston Martin Rapide goes like a bomb and is a snip at 200,000 euros. The luxury vehicle is based on the DB9 and has a princely 500bhp engine under the bonnet. A four-seater at around five metres in length, this aluminium-bodied vehicle is powered by a six-litre V12 engine which propels it from 0 to 62mph in five seconds and to a top speed of around 186mph (300km/h).

Production Aston Martin four-door to be shown in Frankfurt

2010 Aston Martin Rapide.

The year 2009 won’t be remembered for gangbuster auto shows, with Detroit being a major letdown and all shows that followed hardly as fully stocked as previous years. Frankfurt’s IAA Internationale Automobil Ausstellung, however, which takes place next month, just might be the turning point we’ve all been waiting for.

Along with the long awaited Ferrari 458 Italia and Porsche’s updated 911 Turbo will be the official unveiling of Aston Martin’s long anticipated Rapide four-door, the first “sedan” since the outlandish Aston Martin Lagonda.

The new Rapide, borrowing a name from Lagonda’s heritage, is hardly outlandish looking though, pulling cues from all new Astons and combining for one of the sleekest looking four-door “coupes” on the market.

Reportedly the Rapide’s V12 makes 470hp compared to the Vantage V12’s 510, leaving room for a more powerful special edition Rapide model in the near future.

The price of entry for this “base” car will be £110,000 in the UK, with North American prices to be announced closer to its introduction here.

Impressions: 2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante


The best thing about the DBS Volante is that, top down, you can more thoroughly appreciate the sound of the Aston’s viciously powerful V12 engine.

In town for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Aston Martin had a selection of DBS Volante’s on hand and invited AutoGuide to test out the latest Bond car in Monterey - one of the few places in the world that can make even Monte Carlo look middle-class.

Blasting through the Northern California hills we’re happy to report that due to the DBS’s already extra-potent V12 engine, the added weight in the convertible model doesn’t effect performance… not that you can feel anyway. Making 510hp and 420 ft-lbs of torque it will hit 62 mph in 4.3 seconds… ever-so-slightly slower than the coupe.

One reason for this is that Aston kept the weight gain to a minimum, with a total curb weight of 3,990 lbs. - roughly 250 lbs more then the coupe. That might seem like quite a bit at first but many convertibles, especially hard-top ones, can weigh as much as 500 lbs more than their coupe counterparts. Aston chose the soft top to keep the weight low and retain a useable amount of trunk space. We should also point out that the sub-4,000 lb curb weight is actually very good for a full-sized grand tourer.

Aston Martin DBS Volante

This weekend's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance has lured the high rollers of the exotic-car world, including the 2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante that Motor Authority took for a first drive today.

Aston Martin DBS Volante

The DBS Volante is, by Aston's reckoning, the "ultimate open air motoring experience." With the new convertible top, purist-pleasing rear-wheel drive, a massively powerful V-12 engine under the sleek hood, and the tech-forward reputation of today's Aston Martin lineup, the new Volante teams with the V8 Vantage roadster to bookend the DB9 and DBS coupe--and to seed the ground for the four-door Rapide sedan coming in a few weeks' time to the 2009 Frankfurt auto show.
Aston Martin DBS Volante
Aston Martin DBS Volante
Aston Martin DBS Volante interior

Friday, August 14, 2009

2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante

2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante

2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante wallpaper image
With the clock counting down for the worldwide launch of its Rapide sedan, Aston Martin continues to fill out its exotically British lineup. Next up for the bespoke brand? The roadster DBS Volante arriving in buyers' hands later this year and wearing a 2010 model-year tag..

Aston previewed the new convertible at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, and is showing clients across America the new car, with a stop planned at this month's Pebble Beach Concours.

By their accounts, the DBS Volante is the "ultimate open air motoring experience." If you're inclined to agree, the only evidence you need to point to may be the Volante's bruising V-12 engine. The 6.0-liter V-12 exhales 510 horsepower and twists out 420 pound-feet of torque, which gets shuttled to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. With either, Aston Martin says the Volante dashes to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and charges to a 191-mph top speed.

Playing backup to the massively powerful drivetrain are big carbon-ceramic brakes and a lighter-weight body with a hood, decklid and front fenders made from carbon fiber. Driving feel is adjustable, with dash-mounted buttons for Sport or normal modes. Sport quickens the reflexes of the automatic, the shocks, steering and throttle, while the normal mode promises a more relaxed, GT-style ride.

The DBS's bonded and riveted aluminum body should stay rigid, since the automaker planned the DBS Volante in tandem with the coupe. Instead of a weight-gaining folding hardtop like the Ferrari California, Aston's fitted a lightweight fabric roof that stacks and folds in only 14 seconds, at speeds of up to 30 mph. When it's stowed, the top hides underneath a hard tonneau cover that gives the Volante a distinct look from the coupe.

The Volante is technically speaking, a 2+2, but the back seat and its leather-trimmed seats are admittedly made for "younger persons or extra luggage," Aston reminds. Interior trim is accented with carbon fiber and trimmed of fat with lightweight carpeting--though Aston still fits a Bang & Olufsen "BeoSound DBS" in-car entertainment system, complete with 13 speakers and sound tuned for top-down driving. Safety gear includes stability control with track-driving modes, as well as front and side airbags and anti-lock brakes.

2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante

Elite Aston Martin Vantage

U.S. tuner Elite has developed a special vehicle called the Le Mans Vantage Racer (LMV/R) that's based on the 2010 Aston Martin Vantage. It is extra lightweight and takes cues from the design of the Ferrari 430 Scuderia and the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera.

Like the Scuderia and Superleggera, Elite set out to create a nimble version of a production street car. It chose the new Vantage, covered the car in carbon fiber and strapped on a few performance modifications in the process.

To improve performance, the Washington-based tuner installed a sport muffler with dual tips, big brake kit and lowering springs.

The bulk of the work was done on the exterior, thanks to a full carbon fiber body kit. It consists of a front bumper with screens, canards, front splitter, hood, wider fenders, side skirts, rear quarter-panel extensions, rear wing and diffuser. Matte black 20-inch wheels sit in the now 2-inch-wider wheelwells.

Other changes include a carbon fiber engine bay kit, fully customized Alcantara interior, serial-numbered plaque and LMV/R matte black stripes.

Elite will only be doing a run of 30 of the track-ready, lighter Vantages, which will be assembled in Florida. The package price is estimated at $173,000 plus the car. More information is available through Elite's exclusive distributor.

Aston Martin Rapide interior leaked

Aston Martin Rapide -

A scanned rendering of the Aston Martin Rapide's interior, claimed to be taken from an official brochure, has slid onto the Internet, and judging by the images, occupants will get the full GT experience no matter where they're seated.

Assuming there's room to get comfy, back-seaters should have a fine time of it. Screens in the headrests will entertain while controls on the center tunnel keep the climate in check. We aren't sure what the features in the seatbacks are, but we look forward to finding out.

And in a first for recent Astons, the packaging appears to have left room for a properly capacious trunk. Stay tuned for shots of the real deal from the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Aston Martin LMV/R

Aston Martin V8 Vantage LMV/R

Aston Martin V8 Vantage buyers with a bit (well, a lot) of spare cash will be able to turn their cars into something a heap less subtle.

American tuner Elite has come up with this LMV/R (Le Mans Vantage Racer) package that cranks the coupe’s aggression way past 11, and aims it straight at hardcore supercars like the Ferrari 430 Scuderia and Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera.


While it’s just a mock-up for now, Elite says the finished car’s weight will be considerably down on the standard Vantage thanks to extensive use of carbonfibre inside and out. There are aerodynamic tweaks, too, with an abundance of new air intakes and a hefty rear wing.

The springs are lowered, while there’s a bigger brake kit surrounded by matt black 20in alloys. The exhaust is beefed up via a sports muffler and there’s an Alcantara-clad interior to remind you of your car’s relative uniqueness while driving.

All the developments should improve the Vantage’s already impressive performance, the standard 420bhp, 4.7-litre V8 dishing up a 4.7sec 0-60mph time and a 180mph top speed.

Elite is currently seeking an Aston Martin dealer in the US to help sell the LMV/R kit, but the plan is for 30 cars to be sold like this, with the changes made when buyers’ brand new cars have been delivered to their respective dealer, meaning you can order a fresh Vantage in any colour you like before having it Elite-ed.