Aston Martin’s New Baby
It’s a brand known across the globe; a mention of its name instantly conjures up images of class, sophistication, and a certain secret service operative. To catch a glimpse of one of its models never fails to generate copious quantities of excitement and desire; its smooth, sleek lines combining with the gentle burbling, reverberating exhaust note attracting admirable attention wherever it goes. I am, of course, talking of the 104-year-old British luxury car maker Aston Martin.
I’m not quite sure what my perfect day would consist of, but it surely can’t be far from having a pre-public introduction and private viewing of the all-new Aston Martin Vantage, a car which is incredibly important to Aston’s new plan in which it intends to introduce a whole host of new models in upcoming years. And if that wasn’t enough, a private factory tour and insight into the time and craftsmanship which goes into every single car firmly ensured that the day would be one which would not be forgotten.
Even driving up to Aston’s base in Gaydon, Warwickshire invokes a sense of a 21st century James Bond villain’s hideaway; the light stone building is in a hidden dip, encircled by a collection of trees lining the avenues and a thin strip of water in front with a Flugplatz Blue Vanquish and Deep Orange DB11 floating silently on the surface. As we drive in and park the Vanquish in the ‘Aston-Martin-Only’ VIP parking area right outside the main entrance I notice the meticulousness of the place; every aspect is simplistic yet well executed and, once inside the central atrium, the same theme is followed inside. I am greeted by four spectacular cars: two Aston Martin racing cars still complete with their tar-and-bug splattered paintwork, a stunning pure white GT8, and an ultra-special Vanquish Zagato Volante which lure me towards a line-up exemplifying Aston Martin’s beginnings in 1913, to the David Brown era cars, and ending with the DB10 specially created to be the star car in the 2015 James Bond film, SPECTRE.
Factory tours tend to do two things; make you have an irresistible yearning to own one of the cars and I forgot what the other one was. It’s testament to the skill, passion, and utter dedication of the men and women who build the current line-up of Vantage, DB11, Rapide, and Vanquish S which ensure every onlooker becomes a potential customer. Like many modern day car factories, my first impression was of sheer size, efficiency, and cleanliness, with designated pathways for tours alongside what resemble miniature motorways for the transportation of parts to each corner of the factory. Pretty standard stuff, you might say, but upon closer inspection it is evident that Aston just do every task a little differently.
There are only two robots in the entire factory; one is to spread the glue evenly onto the panels and the other is to finish off the spraying of the paintwork to ensure even coverage. Everything else is assembled by hand. It was explained to me that the leather, for example, is taken from cows whose hides are not exposed to barbed wire, meaning that the final pieces of leather transported from Scotland can be trimmed into perfect interior surfaces. This is true. Compare the rougher leather used in a BMW or Mercedes to the quality used in an Aston Martin, Bentley, or Rolls Royce and you will instantly feel the difference. Similar attention to detail is taken to final inspection; one trained individual will intricately inspect every button, lock, and surface to make sure that the final product delivered to the customer is without fault.
The factory tour had whet my visual appetite for what was to come. Walking through a glass walkway gave way to a small but well-thought-out room where miniature sandwiches, cakes, and scones were ready to be tucked into by the cohort of Aston Martin stakeholders and deposit-placers who were eager to see the vehicle they had been anticipating for months. Apart from an introduction to some of the new ventures in the pipeline, including the mention of submarines (that’s a more novel way of getting to work), we were swiftly ushered into a dark room to see the new creation for the first time. Flash! Crack! Roar! We suddenly became immersed into a sensory overload; animals ripped carcases to shreds, the heart-thumping soundtrack boomed, and then the screen flew up. The new Aston Martin Vantage was here!
The idea of this article isn’t to bore you with details and stats, so I won’t. All you need to know is that this new Vantage is designed from the ground up; it has the Mercedes-derived 4-litre Twin-Turbo V8 from the new V8 DB11, will get to 0-60 in well under four seconds, is rear-wheel drive, and has the looks to match the price-tag of around £140k base in the UK. After an introduction which focused on the ground-breaking aerodynamics of the car and its ability to generate huge torque figures, I instantly knew that this was going to be special. Arguably one of the greatest features of the new Vantage is the purity of its design. There are no unnecessary folds or creases. You don’t see ugly bonnet openings; the lower grill resembles the Vulcan, the shape of the bonnet looks like James Bond’s own DB10, and the rear demonstrates a purposefulness which is rare in the current market. That being said, I don’t think Aston did themselves any favours by showing the new car in bright red with a saddle tan interior. In my opinion it made it look too much like an F-Type. There can be no denying the quality of the interior though; the Mercedes infotainment system is leagues ahead of the systems previously fitted and the controls have all been changed to give an invigorated, innovative new look and feel. Top marks to Aston there.
Aston Martin surely remains, therefore, one of the best car makers in the world. Whilst it’s undoubtedly true that the new V8 DB11 and Vantage represent a seismic shift in approach and style, with the current 6-litre V12’s soon to be given a place in the history books; the core of Aston Martin has not been forgotten and still rings true today. Performance, style, and bespoke craftsmanship will always remain at the heart of Aston Martin.