Friday, June 25, 2010

Aston Martin Rapide review

Aston Martin RapideWhen we first heard Aston Martin was making a four-door supercar known as the Rapide, we weren't terribly happy. It looked as if the company was turning its precious DBS, one of the most beautiful automobiles ever, into a hideously deformed hatchback -- all in the name of practicality. To us, that's like sewing pockets on to Elmo's face -- you end up with something slightly more useful, but at what cost?

Having driven one in the real world, we're happy to report the Rapide is not, in fact, a pocket-faced monstrosity. On the contrary, it's actually one of the prettiest cars on the road today -- particularly from the front and rear. These pictures won't do it justice, but in the metal, the Rapide will cause children you've never met to hug your shins and call you Mummy or Daddy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Aston Martin V12 Vantage sets the mark for its storied marque

Aston Martin V12 Vantage
The V12 Vantage is the best Aston Martin ever made, and Aston got it that way by following a simple formula that works every time.

“The V12 Vantage is the biggest engine in the smallest car,” said Aston's CEO Ulrich Bez. “It is the biggest fun.”

Bez should know; he races his company's cars in Germany on the N�rburgring's feared Nordschleife circuit. As we wrote this, Bez and his factory team of engineers--backed by a sizable squadron of privateer entries--were racing a fleet of Astons, including a V12 Vantage and a four-door Rapide, in the N�rburgring annual 24-hour race. Last year, the team took its second class win in as many years at the event.

But the engineers had plenty of practice. As a few other carmakers do, Aston has an engineering facility right at the track, the Aston Martin Test Centre. While the V12 Vantage was under development, engineers put 5,500 miles on it around the 12.9-mile, 73-turn Nordschleife. That's approximately 426 laps, all done at “95 percent of maximum speed.” So they got it pretty well sorted out by the time Aston introduced the European version of the car at Geneva last year.

2012 Aston Martin DBS/DB9 prototype spied

The first addition to Aston Martin’s new generation line-up has been spied during testing, although it is still unclear whether it is the flasghip Aston Martin DBS or the Aston Martin DB9.2012 Aston Martin DBS/DB9

Confirming recent reports that Aston Martin would launch a completely refreshed model line-up over the next six years, it seems the brand is starting with its famous Grand Touring model.

2012 Aston Martin DBS/DB9

The heavily camouflaged prototype appears to have come a long way since it was last spotted at the Nurburgring, with more bespoke sheet metal and Rapide-inspired head lamps.

2012 Aston Martin DBS/DB9

Friday, June 18, 2010

2011 Aston Martin DB9: First Drive

This the latest DB9, deliveries of which will commence next month. The engineering team has introduced subtle styling changes and these, together with a now standard, ‘Adaptive Damping System', prompt the British company to proclaim it the “world’s definitive grand tourer”.
2011MY buyers can choose alternative new-design wheels (fitted to this car), the brilliant Bang & Olufsen hi-fi, a ‘Bright finish’ grille, and a ‘Double Apex’ alloy finish on the centre console – an attractive touch you see here.

The new package is finished off by a new tyre-pressure monitoring system and a revised Bluetooth microphone. It’s evolution rather than revolution – the design, now seven years old, is one of the sexiest out there, so why change it?

Under the skin, the big news is the introduction, as standard, of ADS ('Adaptive Damping System') control, similar to that fitted to the DBS and Rapide. The settings are bespoke to the DB9 and mean that default mode is optimised for ride comfort, while ‘Sport’ tightens things up for more press-on motoring.

As a result, the previous ‘Sports Pack’ option is no longer offered. While most buyers will opt for the extra-cost, six-speed ZF Touchtronic 2 automatic, a six-speed manual is still available.

Behind the wheel, having cleared the immediate post-race Le Mans traffic and gunning the big V12 along French D-roads, the first thing you notice is the improved ride and much quieter cabin. The outgoing journey was done in a V12 Vantage – a fairly uncompromising speed machine, with prodigious engine performance and a sporting, no-holds-barred ride.

Now that Aston has this at one end of the 12-cylinder range (together with the similarly powered, 510bhp DBS) and the luxurious, grand touring Rapide at the other, it can afford to be less compromised with the DB9.

James Bond Aston Martin DB5 comes to UK

James Bond Aston Martin DB5
Before it goes to Auction in October, this Bond DB5 will be the star attraction at a summer concours event

One of the most famous movie cars of all time, James Bond's Aston Martin DB5, is set to make an appearance at this month's Stoke Park Midsummer Classic on June 24.

The car played starring roles alongside Sean Connery in the James Bond films Goldfinger and Thunderball.

Vintage 007 Aston Martin to return to the UK

Vintage 007 Aston Martin
A British classic car which was once described as the most famous in the world is set to appear at an event in Buckinghamshire this month.

The sole-remaining silver 1964 Aston Martin DB5 ''FMP 7B'' achieved iconic status for its appearances in the James Bond films ''Goldfinger'' and ''Thunderball''.

Having spent more than 40 years in the US with its original owner, the vehicle is now coming back to the UK to be sold at the annual ''Automobiles of London'' auction in October.

However, vintage car fans will be able to catch a glimpse of it in the very near future as it is scheduled to appear at the Stoke Park Midsummer Classic on June 26th.

"This DB5 is more than a car, it''s a film star and it''s an absolute privilege to be able to present it to the British public again, having been away in America for so many years," said Max Girardo, the managing director of RM Auctions Europe.

The DB5, which has been owned by US radio personality Jerry Lee since he paid Aston Martin $12,000 for it in 1969, is expected to fetch $5 million when it goes under the hammer.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Aston Martin V12 Vantage price

The V12-powered version of the Aston Martin Vantage arrives in U.S. dealer showrooms late this year, with a base sticker price of $181,345, which includes shipping charges and a $3,000 gas-guzzler tax.

Stepping up to the Carbon Black Special Edition adds $15,000 to the sticker price, for a total of $196,345.

Both models are powered by Aston's 6.0-liter V12 rated at 520 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Aston says the V12 Vantage has a top speed of 190 mph and will rocket from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds.

The Carbon Black package gets you black exterior paint and side strakes made from carbon fiber. Inside, there is black leather and gloss black trim, along with an upgraded audio system.

The base price of the V12 Vantage is a $59,245 step up from the base of the 2010 V8 Vantage.

James Bond's 'Goldfinger' Aston Martin up for auction
They've been shaken. They've been stirred. And somehow, James Bond movie cars keep seem to make headlines at auto auctions.

This time, it's the real deal -- the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 James Bond movie car featured in Goldfinger and Thunderball.

This one, one of two used in the movies, comes with all the goodies: fake machine guns, bullet-proof shield, revolving number plates, tracking device, removable roof panel, oil slick sprayer, nail spreader and smoke screen, all controlled from factory-installed toggles and switches hidden in the center arm-rest.

It's expected to bring at least $5 million when it goes on sale at the "Automobiles of London" event in London on Oct. 27.

RM says the DB5 was originally loaned to Eon Productions for the filming of the two Bond movies and returned to the Aston Martin Lagonda factory after a promotional tour. After a few years it was bought by an American:

Jerry Lee, a radio broadcaster based in Philadelphia, convinced the factory to sell the car to him for $12,000 in 1969. It is still owned by Lee. "The James Bond car has brought me much enjoyment for some 40 years," said Jerry Lee.