Aston Martin has squeezed its biggest engine into its smallest coupe to create the V12 Vantage RS. As the RS badge indicates, it's a lighter, faster, less compromising version of the Vantage. Aston Martin unveiled the stripped out coupe as a concept last night (11 December), but it's almost certain to make production.
So there’s a V12 squeezed under the hood?
Oh yes. Aston’s engineers deserve massive credit for managing to shoehorn this 600bhp block in there. The engine is a development of the DBRS9’s – Aston’s ‘gentleman racer’, one rung down from the Le Mans winning DBR9 – but boosted to give a nice round 600 horses. The engine is dry-sumped and features forged pistons and conrods. Peak power arrives at 6250rpm, while 509lb ft is available at 5000rpm.
To shave a few kilos, the boot lid and louvred bonnet are carbonfibre, although this is offset by a heavier engine than the regular V8. Aston says the RS weighs ‘under 1600kg’, but officials wouldn’t be drawn on specifics. A regular V8 Vantage is 1630kg. Either way, this special Vantage is some way off the weight of its nemesis, the 1375kg 911 GT3 RS.
More Porsche-watching from Aston?
Yes. Aston’s boss, Dr Ulrich Bez, was in charge of Porsche R&D when a certain 993 RS was rolling out of Stuttgart. The ‘RS’ script on the brake callipers looks suspiciously Porsche-esque, and a Harm Lagaay was there last night: he’s the man who penned the 993-generation 911.
But for Aston RS is not ‘rennsport’ (which is German for motorsport). Instead it stands for ‘road sport’, signifying that the Vantage RS is a road car that can be used on the track, rather than being an all-out trackday racer.
How quick is it?
Aston reckons on a 4.0sec sprint to 62mph, while 100mph is covered in 8.5sec. By comparison, the standard V8 takes 4.9sec from standstill to 62, and a GT3 RS requires 4.2 sec. A carbonfibre front splitter and pop up rear spoiler help keep this quick car on the ground.
Will Aston build the RS?
Almost certainly. The concept car is a runner, and there’s also a Vantage development mule running around near Gaydon with a V12 under the bonnet.
Says Bez: ‘Over the last five years, we have established a reputation for presenting fully functioning, feasible concept cars, and the V12 Vantage RS is no exception. We will listen with interest to feedback on this concept and, as ever, if there is sufficient demand then we will seriously consider a low volume production run in the near future with a price that will reflect the exclusivity of the car’. Expect a limited production run in 2008, and a price in excess of the £160,000 DBS.
And Aston can do all this easily?
Yes. That was the point of last night: Aston unveiled its new design studio at Gaydon, so it now has that, a factory, and an engine plant. The trio is designed to give Aston ‘speed, variability, flexibility and sensitivity,’ says Bez.
The VH platform that the DB9 and Vantage use is also very flexible, meaning limited-run variants are relatively easy to produce. First down the line next year will be the DB9 LM and V8 Vantage N400, as an example.
Aston says the design studio is 80 percent more energy efficient that an equivalent building, thanks to geothermal heating and wood from renewable Austrian and Swiss forests. Apparently the forests are so renewable (and so large) that all the wood Aston has used grows back in just nine minutes.
So is Aston on a roll?
Undoubtedly. It’s just announced the DBS will again appear in the next Bond film due at the end of 2009, after, Bez joked" ‘we have repaired it from the seven rolls’.
Aston has strong financial backing, is opening dealerships in China and Russia, and a one-make race series for the V8 Vantage is starting next year in Asia, while the Rapide saloon will appear in summer 2009. The firm also announced a tie-up with stylish audio maker Bang & Olufsen.
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