Tag Archives: aston martin

fisker-karma

Henrik Fisker Announces Fisker Automotive Return

Henrik Fisker is reviving Fisker Automotive and plans to introduce an all-new premium electric car that is expected to be unveiled in mid-2017. With talks that it will set the new standard for range between charges, there are high expectations for the vehicle. Bear in mind that this is completely different to the Karma Revero, which we covered previously.

Said to have greater head room and leg room that other cars in production, the vehicle is also expected to be constructed using innovative materials and will incorporate revolutionary battery technology. Little else is known about the new design. “Fisker Inc. will spearhead a revolution in electric cars that will disrupt the electric vehicle market and change the world,” said Henrik Fisker, who will serve as Chairman and CEO of the reformed company.

Back in 2012, the company launched the world’s first electrically propelled luxury GT called the Fisker Karma. The vehicle used a petrol generator to recharge the battery and was a bold vision by the brand. And because it was designed and conceived by the man that had been responsible for sketching the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin DB9, the car and the company generated huge excitement.

Unfortunately, a combination of poor sales, problems with suppliers and a natural disaster forced Fisker to walk away and the company went into bankruptcy. “Both the technology and the market are more mature now than when we first started out as pioneers in the electric vehicle industry, and our new vehicle will be the most innovative and cutting-edge electric car ever created,” said Fisker. “With our game-changing battery technology, now is the time to develop more affordable, mass market vehicles,” he added.

11 Top Touring Superleggera Automobile Hits

11 Top Touring Superleggera Automobile Hits

To mark coachbuilder Touring Superleggera’s 90th anniversary, the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile (the Italian National Motor Museum or ‘MAUTO’) in Turin is hosting a retrospective exhibition of the Milanese car design and coachbuilder’s work. When the show opened to the public over the weekend, the work shown was in the form of 11 of the company’s greatest automotive creations. These ranged from the 1930s to the present day alongside sketches, design blueprints, photos and video footage.

“There is no better venue to celebrate our first 90 years than MAUTO. Not only is it the most important national car museum in Italy, but Turin was the cradle and the industrial heart of the Italian car industry,” said Piero Mancardi, CEO of Touring Superleggera.

Mancardi has been overseeing the company’s fortunes since it turned its attentions from designing mass-production models – Touring’s last production car design commission was the quixotic Jensen Interceptor – to creating truly bespoke commissions for the most demanding of car collecting clients and creating cutting-edge concepts for the likes of Mini and Maserati.

11 Top Touring Superleggera Automobile Hits

The Jensen Interceptor R. © Jensen International Automotive

But times and technological processes have changed over the automobile’s first 130 years, with design and development moving in-house. What the exhibition, co-curated with MAUTO itself, aims to show, is how much influence a single coachbuilder has had on the appearance of cars over that 130 years, particularly those of Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati.

“MAUTO is pleased with having participated in the development of this exhibition which, following the museum’s guidelines and applying a tutorial approach, develops the theme of creativity and its evolution in car design,” said MAUTO’s director, Rodolfo Gaffino Rossi.

The very first Lamborghini, the 1963 350 GT was a Touring design, as was the Aston Martin DB5, the most iconic British car in history, thanks to James Bond. Between 1948 and 1953 the firm designed five Ferraris, and undertook most of the marque’s production including for the 166 MM Barchetta, the vehicle that in 1949 laid the foundation on which the Ferrari legend was built (pictured top).

11 Top Touring Superleggera Automobile Hits

The 1963 Lamborghini 350GT. © Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.

And all of these iconic cars will be present as part of the exhibition, as will a 1956 Maserati 3500 GT, a 1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Super Sport and a 1939 BMW 328 Berlinetta Aerodinamica Touring.

“We chose to showcase Touring Superleggera’s design progress through a series of cars which we feel best represent our capability in adapting to the evolution of the automobile industry in rolling chassis, materials and production techniques, often allowing us to dictate new styles and trends ahead of their times,” said Louis de Fabribeckers, Head of Design.

And that’s why the final elements of the show will consist of the company’s latest designs including the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante by Touring which has been turning heads and emptying wallets since making its debut at the 2013 Geneva motor show.

“Touring Superleggera: Ninety Years of Forward-Looking Elegance” runs until November 20 at MAUTO, Turin, Italy. More images of the iconic Touring Superleggera cars follow below:

11 Top Touring Superleggera Automobile Hits

The 1963 Aston Martin DB5. © Aston Martin Lagonda Limited

11 Top Touring Superleggera Automobile Hits

The 1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Super Sport ‘Villa d’Este’ © Touring Superleggera

11 Top Touring Superleggera Automobile Hits

Alfa Romeo Disco Volante By Touring. © Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera srl

11 Top Touring Superleggera Automobile Hits

BMW 328 Berlinetta Aerodinamica Touring from 1939. © Touring Superleggera

Goodwood Revival Welcomes Aston Martin DBR1

Once upon a time, Aston Martin had a sterling reputation in the world of motor racing and it was all down to one car, the Aston Martin DBR1. This legendary car is set to hit the track once more as one of the many highlights at the Goodwood Revival later this week. In case you need a reminder, the DBR1 helped win the luxury automaker the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959. Thanks to that win nearly five decades ago, Aston Martin was able to lay out the engineering and stylistic blueprint for all Astons. Even the modern DB11 bears some resemblance to the DBR1.

Along with the DBR1, Aston Martin is also bringing the 1961 DB4 GT Zagato and two examples of the DB3S from 1953 and 1955. “Goodwood provides two very different but equally special events for Aston Martin: the Festival of Speed and the Revival,” said Aston Martin President and CEO Dr Andy Palmer. “It seems entirely fitting, therefore, that Aston Martin plays its part once again this year and gives the visiting crowds something truly memorable to admire and experience.” Of course, the crowds are also part of the spectacle as period clothing is de rigueur.

Located at the Goodwood House in West Sussex, England, the Goodwood Revival celebrates vintage motoring and historical racing. The event is one where no car built after 1966 is allowed on track and attendees are required to come in period clothing to gain access (hence our point above). Running from September 9 to 11, this is one event that true enthusiasts won’t want to miss.

Luxury Concept Cars Pebble Beach 2016 Lamborghini Centenario Roadster

5 Luxury Concept Cars Dominate Pebble Beach

At Pebble Beach this year, there was an impressive display of classic and concept cars that would have kept motoring enthusiasts on the edge of their seats. The Concours d’Elegance was an opportunity to showcase luxury concept cars and limited edition automobiles to the public, and boy did automakers pull out all the stops. We take a look at five of the most impressive luxury concept cars that caught our attention.

Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6Mercedes-Maybach 6

Clocking in at 6-meters, this all-electric concept car is an awe-inducing spectacle from Mercedes, representing where it thinks the storied Maybach name fits into the global automotive narrative. Fitted with an electric power train deliver 750 horsepower, the car is able to go from 1 to 100 km/h in under four seconds. The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 comes on the heels of other concepts presented by the brand and is actually the first indication of what’s to come for Maybach, a marque we love to ogle. Obviously, it is set to pave the way for an upcoming model in the Maybach range.

Fisker Karma

fisker-karma

Henrik Fisker’s Fisker Karma cars are no more but the spirit of this marque gets its second wind here. Now christened the Karma Revero, the reborn plug-in hybrid is the first of Karma Automotives, complete with a new management team that focuses on the rather zen philosophy of cause and effect. It has inherited the same good looks as its namesake, and the solar roof is retained, which Karma Automotive boldly claims will generate enough energy to power the car.

BMW 2002 HomageThe BMW 2002 Hommage

Celebrating 100 years is a big deal and BMW is partying in many different ways, not least of which is this homage to one of its most symbolic creations, the 2002 Turbo. First created in 1973, the BMW 2002 was the first-ever road-going sports car that was equipped with a turbo charger. While the initial concept was unveiled at Villa d’Este in Italy earlier this year, Pebble Beach saw the manufacturer present a new version in orange and black — the original colors of the competition car that raced in the 1970s.

Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato VolanteAston Martin Vanquish Zagato

British carmaker Aston Martin and Italian coach builder Zagato have dropped the top to present the American public with a convertible version of their Vanquish Zagato coupe. You’ve no doubt seen this dream machine before and it is certainly going into production although it may never reach showrooms anywhere. The production run for the model, which is equipped with a 592 horsepower V12 engine, will be limited to 99 copies.

Lamborghini Centenario RoadsterThe Lamborghini Centenario Roadster

At this year’s Pebble Beach, the Italian brand has opted to present the roadster version of its Centenario coupe. Unveiled earlier this year in Geneva, Switzerland, the Lamborghini Centenario, which marks the centenary of the birth of the founder of the brand, Ferrucio Lamborghini, is the most powerful ever built, with 770 horsepower enabling it to hit 100 km/h in only 2.8 seconds. The production run for the convertible version will be limited to just 20. The regular Centenario is already sold out and we expect the same here.

Ferrari: Ultimate Collectible Cars?

Of the 10 most expensive cars ever to fall under the auctioneer’s hammer, nine are Ferraris. In fact, cars carrying the prancing horse badge make up 22 of the top 30. For comparison, the best Aston Martin can manage is a DB4 GT Zagato in 16th place, while there is not a single Lamborghini in the current top 100. But why does Ferrari create such a frenzy, leading us to return to the theme again and again (for those interested, we sum up the desirability of Ferraris in our auction reports of 2015 vs 2016 story)? “They are the longest standing and most consistent racing manufacturer,” says James Cottingham. “I’m not surprised at how important the Ferrari brand has become in the classic car market.”

Cottingham is acquisition consultant for DK Engineering, a British company that has been restoring, race preparing, buying, selling, storing and helping clients build Ferrari collections since 1977. Within the classic car market, aesthetics and awards are important, but a big driver is sporting prowess and in particular Formula One – a sport that Ferrari has dominated more than any other marque. “They’re always at the forefront of supercar and sportscar technology in every era,” explains Cottingham. “As a result, it has definitely become the brand to follow.”

Aston Martin 1960 DB4GT Zagato

Aston Martin 1960 DB4GT Zagato

But if racing pedigree equals desirability, what about Porsche? “Porsche has a huge following but they’ve been mass produced and this lack of rarity diminishes value,” says Cottingham. “However, what is interesting is how much the collectability of the Porsche brand has grown in recent years as a direct result of Porsche’s return to Le Mans. It has really added to the brand.”

In its 103-year history, Aston Martin has only ever produced 700,000 cars and it has won Le Mans so why aren’t people going as crazy for Bond’s carmaker of choice? Cottingham points to initial quality. “If you restore a 1960s Aston, very little of the original car is left when the restoration is over,” he explains.

While auction prices are starting to cool, interest in Ferraris isn’t. Classic car valuations and insurance company Hagerty has noticed that younger consumers are moving into the market. As a result, the value of Aston Martin DB9s and late 1970s Porsche 911s is on the up. But so are prices for Ferraris, most notably the Testarossa (up 98%) and the 308GTB and GTS (65%).

1964 Ferrari 275 GTBC Speciale

1964 Ferrari 275 GTBC Speciale

“These new owners of modern classics reflect similar habits and preferences as past generations of collector car owners — people that have an interest in collector car ownership tend to purchase cars that they grew up with. Consequently, cars from the ‘80s and 90s are now attracting interest,” explains Hagerty CEO McKeel Hagerty.

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Aston Martin by Hackett: Get Dressed for DB11

If you’re going to drive a car as suave as the DB11, you definitely need to dress the part too, which is why luxury British carmaker Aston Martin has partnered menswear retailer Hackett for a capsule collection titled “Aston Martin by Hackett” this fall.

The collection is the first of a new, long-term global partnership between the two British marques, and the Fall/Winter 2016 series will comprise 14 luxurious pieces that includes outerwear, knitwear, shirts, trousers and accessories. This actually builds on an existing relationship between Aston Martin Racing and Hackett.

Commenting on the partnership and subsequent collection, Aston Martin’s EVP & Chief Creative Officer, Marek Reichman said: “Starting with the enduringly successful relationship with Hackett via Aston Martin Racing, we were delighted to take the partnership to a whole new level of style with the creation of the ‘Aston Martin by Hackett’ collection. By bringing together our creative teams from the outset of the project we have created a look that captures the essence of this great partnership”.

As mentioned, this isn’t the first time Hackett has worked with the carmaker – as the official team clothing supplier for the Aston Martin Racing Team, it has previously designed a special range of teamwear you can don to pledge your allegiance.

The “Aston Martin by Hackett” collection will be launched September 5 on Hackett.com and across its flagship stores globally.

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Goodbye Aston Martin DB9, Hello DB11

The Aston Martin DB9 is no more. Yes, 13 years after the first car rolled out at Gaydon, the British car manufacturer will cease production of one of the most beautifully designed Grand Tourers in history. The company will mark the milestone with a final nine examples of the DB9 GT (pictured above), before starting work on its next highway star: the DB11.

Fans of the DB9 will remember the thunderous roar of its front mid-mounted V12 engine, all 540bhp of it. They will also never forget the day they tried tearing down the roads at its top speed of 183mph. This two-door coupe was destined to be iconic.

2014 Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Black

2014 Aston Martin DB9 Carbon Black

As the replacement for the DB7, Aston Martin christened it DB9 instead of DB8 to represent revolution rather than evolution (while conveniently dispelling misunderstandings that its engine might be eight cylinders rather than 12). The car was credited with boosting Aston’s sales almost four-fold in four years and its fan club consisted of the hard-to-please Jeremy Clarkson and Daniel Craig’s James Bond – who destroyed not one, but two DBS models, the DB9’s more aggressive twin.

James Bond 'Quantum of Solace' Aston Martin DBS

James Bond ‘Quantum of Solace’ Aston Martin DBS

Now, in collaboration with the company’s Q Division bespoke customization firm, Aston Martin will roll out the last of its kind at its Gaydon, Warwickshire production line in England. Each of the final nine DB9 GTs are custom-finished, and if you’re looking to get your hands on one, don’t bother trying – they’re all taken.

2017 Aston Martin DB9 GT

2017 Aston Martin DB9 GT

Like its predecessor, the DB11 will also mark the firm’s next big revolution; its all-new 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 will muscle 600bhp and hit 62mph in 3.9 seconds. Aston has, however, created a one-off DB10 for the recent Bond film Spectre. But the Aston Martin DB9 will clearly never be forgotten – classic car insurance and classic car industry experts Hagerty has already noticed an increase in both demand and prices for mid-2000 produced DB9s.

Watch the Aston Martin DB9 in all its glory here:

And for old times’ sake, watch as Jeremy Clarkson proves his DB9 is up to the challenge of getting to Monte Carlo faster than Hammond and May with public transport on Top Gear.

This story is also available in Bahasa Indonesia. Read it here: Selamat Tinggal Aston Martin DB9, Halo DB11

Luxuo David Beckham for Jaguar 2016

How British Car Brands Sell to China

Many British automotive marques are already forging reciprocal links with Chinese firms. Aston Martin is working with LeEco to develop an electric version of its Rapide super sedan and everyone from Jaguar to Bentley is also developing models with longer wheelbases and greater space for rear passengers, uniquely for the Chinese market.

But how do these storied British brands get the biggest and youngest car-buying market to fall in love with them within the next few years, when they’ve had over 60 years to become pin-up fixtures on children’s walls in Europe and the US?

Jaguar has already hired David Beckham as its sportscar ambassador to China, but, as football fans will tell you “There’s only one David Beckham” so it appears the long-term answer is to celebrate all that’s good about British motoring heritage by crafting a festival on a par with the Goodwood Festival of Speed and bringing it to the Chinese mainland.

The British Motorsport Festival (BMF), will open its doors to the public at the Goldenport track, Beijing, on October 1 and promises past, present and future cars from Jaguar, Land Rover, Lotus, McLaren, Morgan and Noble.

But more than simply trying to get car fans excited, the two-day event will be a proper family-inclusive lifestyle experience.

“The British Motorsport Festival is a unique blend of cars, fans and fun for the entire family. Our hope is that the British Motorsport Festival can help brands connect with fans to build lasting relationships,” said Jim James, BMF’s founder.

So the event promises racing, a ladies competition, go-karting and electric car racing for kids plus a vintage car show.

Alongside the festival the UK government is also assisting in setting up an annual motorsports conference, in partnership with Motorsport China, the first of which will be held in Shanghai on November 2. Because as with every country that starts to fall in love with cars, the urge to race tends to follow very quickly. But there are pitfalls that need to be avoided if it’s going to be done in a sustainable, profitable way.

“Motorsport in China is developing rapidly, and the goal of the Conference is to bring experts from the UK and China together to discuss best practices, build deeper relationships and ultimately to develop the industry to a world class level,” said Managing Director of Motorsport China, Steven Lu.

So the conference will bring together experts from every facet of racing from track development to team owners and specialist services companies under one roof.

Road-Going F1 Car: Aston Martin AM-RB 001

“Are we already in 2050?” You might ask this after laying eyes on the AM-RB 001. No, we’re still only halfway through 2016, but we don’t blame you for wondering – the latest project between Aston Martin and Red Bull is a futuristic-looking beast that may soon turn up at a highway near you. Yes, this car is reportedly road-legal.

Aston martin_am-rb-001_

Co-designed by 10-time Formula One Championship designer Adrian Newey – who’s currently employed by Red Bull Racing – and Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s chief creative officer, the hypercar is projected to serve up a blistering 1,000 bhp, essentially rendering it a two-seated road rocket. So, as other commentators have noted, this is an F1 car that can legally pass you on the highway, and pass you it will…

This pace is made possible by a brand-new, ultra-compact naturally-aspirated V12 engine, which will power the 1,000kg car with a projected weight-to-power ration of 1:1 (read: one bhp per kilogram), delivering behemoth power that may well propel the car around Silverstone faster than a Formula One car. This magical ratio has only ever been achieved in another car – the Koenigsegg One:1 hypercar. Aston Martin also promises its performance will leave last year’s trinity of McLaren P1, LaFerrari and Porsche 918 in its dust.

A word about the AM-RB 001’s 1,000kg weight. Basically, Newey’s first road-going design is lighter than a Hyundai Elantra, for example, which has a published kerb-weight of up to 1,350kg with just 126 bhp. Take a moment and do the math on the weight-to-power ratio and then realize that the Elantra is of course road-legal. Having these two cars share the same road is like putting Jesse Eisenberg into a UFC ring with Conor McGregor.

Aston martin_am-rb-001

Newey explains: “I want it (the AM-RB 001) to be small and light, with a very responsive powertrain. The aerodynamics don’t necessarily make it more pleasurable to drive, but they do have the effect of making you think you are going much faster than you thought possible. We looked at all sorts of configurations – V6 twin-turbocharged, V8 single turbo – but in the end it had to be a V12 to get the sort of power output we were after.”

Aston martin_am-rb-001

To make the ride less harrowing than it already seems to be, Newey will likely implement active suspension to counterbalance the immense downforce at high speeds. However, Newey insists that his first ever road-legal car will be a comfortable drive. “We’re talking also about the driving experience, not just the statistics. How you are feeling in the car, taking pleasure in driving it, feeling involved in it,” he said.

A track version of the AM-RB 001 will also be made in a limited 25 examples, and will feature modifications such as bigger wings and diffusers, wider tires and a stripped cabin for a drive that is slated to match LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1) lap times. However, an estimated 99 to 150 drivers will get their hands on the standard road-legal versions by end 2018; we know we’re keeping our eyes peeled for that inevitable message from Aston Martin that the AM-RB 001 is completely sold out. Oh yes, do note that that AM-RB 001 designation that we keep repeating here is apparently only temporary. By the time we bring you news of the model selling out, it will likely have a new and proper name.

This story is also available in Bahasa Indonesia. Read it here: Aston Martin AM-RB 001, Mobil F1 di Jalan Raya

4 Supercars Dominating Goodwood 2016

The annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in England has always been a great opportunity for various automobile marques to showcase their best creations. This year’s festival is no different, as our previous story on this subject indicates and our selection of highlights proves. We have already witnessed a comeback by sportscar company Alpine with its 11 model display in the festival, but quite a number of notable supercars showed up as well. Ranging from names like Ferrari to Mercedes – these are four of the biggest show-stealing supercars at Goodwood.

Ferrari

Ferrari-MM-Speciale

The company dropped a couple of cars never before seen in the UK. Among those, though, the cream of the crop was definitely the Ferrari 458 MM Speciale. This bespoke commission was based on the standard 458 Speciale and boasts of a variety of uniquely reworked features.

Aston Martin vantage_gt12_ro.bf13d090249.h0

Even more exclusively tailored was the drop-top variant of Aston Martin’s Vantage GT12 coupe – the Vantage GT12 Roadster, done up by the bespoke department of Aston Martin. With its carbon fiber stylings and beefed up performance, it made for quite a ferocious model among the other cars to appear at the festival. In fact, to further maintain its exclusivity, the client who requested the model paid a premium so that no other Aston client could ask for something similar.

Bugatti

Bugatti-Chiron

Although it is yet to be confirmed as the world’s fastest production super sports car by Guinness, the Bugatti Chiron roared into action at Goodwood with its 1500PS and 420km/h top speed. It has already stood out in its rarity, desirability and collectability – with only 500 models scheduled for production, the first 200 are already spoken for.

Mercedes

Mercedes-AMG-GT-R

Even with the sheer power of the Chiron on display though, it was the Mercedes-AMG GT R that potentially made the deepest impression on the crowd. In the twisting circuits set out by the festival, it proved to be the direct competitor to the Porsche 911 GT3 in terms of thrills, spills and track-friendly performance. The active aerodynamics in the design, coupled with its 4-liter twin-turbo V8 (which outputs 585hp), as well as a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and active rear-wheel steering – made it a pleasure to behold in action. Best of all, its production isn’t restricted, and it’ll go for around $200,000 at the end of the year.

Aston Martin Bespoke Vantage GT12 Revealed

A luxury car company such as Aston Martin is always looking to outdo itself in order to provide customers with the highest degree of exclusivity possible, even creating unique models. Aston Martin elevated its game at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year, transforming the already limited Vantage GT12 coupe into a special bespoke commission. This whole package was unveiled at Goodwood as the Vantage GT12 Roadster – a drop-top Aston Martin that contains not only a completely reworked performance but a reworked style as well.

Taking such an action as chopping the roof off a car can have serious consequences on overall handling and safety. Thankfully this project was placed in the capable hands of ‘Q by Aston Martin’ – the in-house bespoke customization department. In order to make this drop-top version possible, they reworked the suspension, added magnesium inlet manifolds, a magnesium torque tube plus a titanium exhaust system for better engine breathing and to shed weight.

To give off a sense of visual drama, unique carbon fiber body panels are utilized all over the model. There’s the engine bulge in the hood, the reimagined door skirts at the side, and a rear bumper/diffuser of increased prominence. To keep this exclusive look unique, the owner paid a further premium to ensure Q never recreates this car for anyone else. Yes, this car was made specially for a customer who did not want to share his vision with anyone else.

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“The Vantage GT12 Roadster is a hugely exciting project. Not just because it’s sensational to look at, but because it vividly demonstrates the expanded capabilities of Q by Aston Martin,” said Dr. Andy Palmer, the CEO of Aston Martin. The company, like a number of premium automotive marques, has been elevating its bespoke services in order to remain competitive in the face of other companies with similar services, such as Mansory. Some limited edition cars done up by Q in recent years include the Vulcan, the Aston Martin Lagonda Taraf and the limited edition hyper car, the One-77.

“In just nine months we took a customer’s dream and realized it, with a fully-formed, exactingly engineered and fully road-legal one-off. That is the essence of the Q by Aston Martin service” said David King, Vice President and Chief Special Operations Officer. With this project done, the company puts forward a good case for their capabilities to fit in with the customer’s unique desires. You can expect more and more specially tailored designs to start appearing out on the open road, soon enough.

Art of Living by Aston Martin

A reflection of Aston Martin’s dedication to exclusivity and craftsmanship, Art of Living by Aston Martin is a curated series of experiences, objects and events that the company hopes will integrate into its clients’ lifestyle.

While luxury goods such as silk scarves, luxury watches and Marma London eyewear are part of the deal, the company’s clients will now also enjoy an exclusive Le Mans experience. This includes being flown to and from the event via the convenience of a helicopter ride, getting direct access to Aston Martin’s race team and retiring to a private chateau at the end of it all. To sweeten the deal, the British luxury car manufacturer also has exclusive visits to the Goodwood Revival – a gastronomic tour of California’s best vineyards and behind-the-scenes tours of Paris fashion houses – in the works.

Aston Martin isn’t the first in providing alternative services and goods besides its cars. Land Rover has previously ventured into bespoke holiday tours with Abercrombie & Kent while Porsche’s design studio, Porsche Design, has been offering clients products such as redesigned BlackBerry handsets bookshelves made of sportscar spoilers. Porsche has even launched an exclusive collection of clothes endorsed by current Manchester United manager José Mourinho.

Managing Director of Aston Martin Brands Katia Bassi said: “The Art of Living portfolio of products will be delivered with the same care and quality that would be expected of a bespoke Aston Martin sports car. This programme provides us with the opportunity to engage with our customers on a new level. We want them to share in the Aston Martin lifestyle.”

 

 

 

Did Zagato Just Create the Best Aston Martin?

The world could use more cars like the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Concept. Something that would make looking out of a bus window a lot more enjoyable; something that could almost stop traffic. Well this collaboration between the Gaydon-based automaker Aston Martin and Italian coachbuilder Zagato can literally stop traffic, if traffic could ever catch up to it… (The Verge and Bloomberg are already calling it the most beautiful car of 2016 and it might just have our vote too – Ed)

Aston-Martin-Vanquish-Zagato-Concept_01-news1

Not since the Aston Martin V12 Vantage Zagato in 2013 have the two fabled marques – Aston Martin and Zagato – embarked on a collaboration. Launched in Italy’s prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the new grand tourer, in a breath-taking shade of red, shone in all its muscular beauty. The brainchild of Aston Martin’s Marek Reichman and Andrea Zagato, the car is based on – as its name suggests – the Vanquish, only upgraded with several of the Italian coachbuilding company’s design trademarks. And yes, “concept” is part of the name but the car is not just a glint in a designer’s eye.

Aston_Martin_Vanquish_Zagato_Concept_09.0

Coachbuilders specialize in bodywork and that is what you get here. The entirely carbon fiber body is given a seamless overhaul with massive panels that serve to reduce the number of split lines, complete with a glasshouse that’s shaped like a visor (because, sport). The roof also rocks the ‘double bubble’, a subtle indentation synonymous with Zagato since it was first introduced to its models in the fifties. Its quad exhausts sit nestled amongst the carbon fiber sills that wrap around the body.

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Paying tribute to its equally sexy cousins at Aston Martin, the wing mirrors invoke the One-77, while its side strakes, the DB11. Tail lights that hark to the “bladed” look of the Vulcan’s are also part of the deal.

At the heart of the special edition is a 6.0-liter, naturally-aspirated V12-engine that produces 592bhp, capable of going from 0 – 62kmh in staggering 3.8 seconds. This is an upgrade from the 568hp by the production Vanquish and generates supercar-like acceleration.

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And because everyone knows the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Concept will set you back by an eye-watering figure, the good guys at Aston Martin have included herringbone carbon fiber and luxurious anodized bronze leather to the facia, vents and rotary dials to remind you of it. The interior also sees embossed and embroidered ‘Z’ quilt patterns on seat, doors and headrests so you ride in absolute luxury. Just be sure to have your seatbelt on, for obvious reasons.

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The car is fitted with the Vanquish’s usual features— a spectacular center console controlling all aspects of the interior environment, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, and the AMi III infortainment system; but when your V12 sounds that good, you don’t really need any music.

 

Future Alternatives: What’s Next For Chinese Cars?

With the Beijing Auto Show ongoing this week, some of the important questions being talked about involve solving some huge problems attached to the idea of transport – such as the issue of pollution, or how to fix China’s road congestion. Electric cars and driverless cars may be the next big thing in the Chinese automobile scene but quite a lot of work is needed to get these measures off on the right track.

Electric Measures

Everyone has a general picture of Chinese smog and air pollution as a big problem but fixing it has always been quite rough. China’s government, though, is turning to electric cars as the key to solving the health crisis. Only one percent of the cars owned by the huge populace are actually electric cars, but that accounts for much. The country already took the number one spot for electric models last year with some 247,000 “zero emission” cars sold — quadruple the number in 2014 — according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. To incentivize drivers, the government is giving up to 55,000 yuan subsidies ($8,500) for each car, and electric cars are even exempt from traffic restrictions in China’s congested major cities.

Yet, while electric cars are more popular worldwide, particularly high-end brands like Tesla, the hefty price tags and restricted driving range means it’s still a niche market. Their evolution has been mainly state-subsidised, as in Norway, which has the world’s highest penetration at 17 percent of new sales in 2015. Still, the sizable market in China tantalizes many manufacturers.

Jean-Francois Belorgey, an expert with consultancy EY, predicted that by 2020, up to 750,000 electric cars will be sold in China every year. “China is perhaps the one place in the world where the automobile industry can achieve the economy of scale needed to bring down costs,” he said. In the meantime, the government is aiming for the loftier goal of at least five million rechargeable cars on the roads by 2020.

Both domestic manufacturers and foreign manufacturers are already planning their models and releases. One of these, on the domestic front, is market leader BYD, which also makes the Denza brand in a joint venture with Daimler. France’s Renault plans to release its Fluence ZE in China in 2017, and PSA group will be showing a unique C-Elysee electric sedan at the Beijing show that is due next year. Chinese companies have also provided funding for Western firms’ development projects, including Britain’s Aston Martin and the US’s Faraday Future, which sees itself as a possible competitor to Tesla.

Still, this isn’t the end of the problem. Ben Scott, an expert of electric cars with IHS, noted that it was merely “moving the CO2 from the exhaust pipe to a power plant somewhere” and, although it addresses the issue of “the concentration of particles”, it helps way less for the greenhouse effect. As long as power is still generated in carbon-intensive ways, the problem will still stick.

Drive Less

While many people would argue that the joy of the car comes from the control of the ride, the larger and more pragmatic Chinese populace are less particular about that. According to a survey by Roland Berger consultants in 2015, which found 96 percent of Chinese would consider an autonomous vehicle for almost all everyday driving, compared with 58 percent of Americans and Germans. We’ve heard, seen and perhaps experienced the horror stories of the accidents, often captured on Youtube and propagated on social media, and that probably accounts for the appeal – better safety through autonomous technology.

Still, the road has many flaws, especially because of large questions looming about the technology itself. “If you have someone jumping out in front of an autonomous car, does the car have to choose between killing that person, or swerving and crashing and killing the passenger?” asked Robin Zhu, senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. Quite a paradox worthy of Isaac Asimov himself, if you ask me. Yet, Chinese businesses are ready to jump into the fray, taking the same path as companies like Google, BMW, Volvo, and Toyota.

Last week, ahead of the Beijing Auto Show opening on Monday, two self-driving Changan cars made a mountainous 2,000 kilometre (1,200 mile) journey from Chongqing in the southwest to the capital in the country’s first long-distance autonomous vehicle test. Another Chinese Internet giant, LeECO, is also venturing into autonomous technologies, unveiling Wednesday in Beijing an electric car that can park itself and be summoned to its owner’s location via smartphone. And late last year Baidu tested China’s first locally designed driverless vehicle, a modified BMW, with a 30 kilometre ride through the streets of Beijing.

The ready market is also bringing in interested parties from the outside, with top companies aiming to refine their driverless technologies. Swedish manufacturer Volvo, owned by China’s Geely since 2010, this month announced plans to test drive up to 100 of its vehicles on Chinese roads this year. Changan, a partner of Ford, is set to roll out commercial autonomous vehicles for motorways from 2018, while mass production of driverless city cars is projected to begin in 2025. The ultimate prize, notes the analysts, will be when mass transport firms such as taxi-hailing giant Uber, or its Chinese rival Didi, can deploy huge fleets of robot taxis.

On the logistical side of things, analysts are less optimistic. Production costs were still too high to make a robot taxi fleet viable, BCG’s Mosquet said. “There are still many questions to be resolved” before fully autonomous vehicles can be put into public use, said Jeremy Carlson, a senior analyst for HIS, pointing to an inadequate infrastructure and “chaotic traffic situations” on roads shared with cyclists and pedestrians.

In the push towards the future, though, it may be hard to stop moving. The only way to face the various hard-hitting issues within the country is an open mind, and a will for innovation.

Beijing Auto Show Blows Hot and Cold

The global car industry is going through a roller coaster ride right now, with sales peaking in many markets yet many of the biggest players find themselves embroiled in scandals. As the Beijing Auto Show opens April 24, the industry faces both more sobering news and exuberant breakthroughs. According to consulting firm McKinsey, auto sales growth is projected to grow in China by just five percent annually over the next five years. China is the world’s number one auto market so if things pan out as McKinsey say they will, there will be much pain to go around.

The bright spot though is hinted at in the image we used above. That is the new concept car from LeSee, the automotive division of Chinese tech firm LeEco, and it is packed with impressive high tech offerings, including a one-piece glass roof, from windscreen to rear window. The BBC says it makes a Tesla Model S look “downright ordinary.” Before we go back to the doom and gloom, the other bit of interesting news here is that LeEco is the major investor backing Faraday Future, the US-based start-up we reported on here.

“After years of double-digit growth, China’s auto market is slowing down. A cooling economy is one of the primary factors in the deceleration of what remains the world’s largest market for automobiles,” McKinsey said.

Domestic and international carmakers face increasingly cutthroat competition for consumers whose preferences have become “more practical”, it said.

The anti-corruption campaign under President Xi Jinping has reduced the appeal of luxury cars, it added, and “significant numbers” of consumers believe they can meet their transport needs by leasing, co-owning, or renting vehicles.

“There’s no sign of momentum,” said Michael Dunne, CEO and strategist at Dunne Automotive in Hong Kong. Competition is growing and “the China profit machine is slowing”, he said.

Competition for market share has become more intense as Chinese carmakers have improved their offerings, particularly in the surging SUV segment, where sales leaped by over 50 percent in the first quarter of 2016 as consumers opted for bigger cars on the country’s hair-raising roads.

Namrita Chow, principal China analyst at IHS automotive, said that international manufacturers can no longer “overlook the Chinese brands, saying, oh they don’t have what it takes to be a competitor. Those days are gone.”

Indeed, LeEco is a prime example of what Chinese firms are bringing to the table, or promising to at any rate. LeEco and Aston Martin announced a partnership February that will allow the British automaker to build its own fully electric ride, likely based on the Rapide saloon.

If nothing else, this illustrates that fears of a slowdown are offset to some extent by opportunities created by the rapidly changing industry, analysts said.

GM China president Matt Tsien said earlier this year that the global giant “expects the automotive industry to change more over the next five to 10 years than in the past 50 years”.

General Motors’ president Dan Ammann pointed to “the inevitable march toward autonomous vehicles” as an opportunity, saying: “We think self-driving cars have the ability to significantly make roads safer”.

More than half of over 3,500 consumers surveyed by McKinsey wanted to upgrade their cars and report co-author Paul Gao told AFP: “The growth is still solid. Five percent out of a big base still makes China a very attractive market.”

 

This story was written in-house, based on an AFP report and various news reports, including the BBC report cited. The image featured is from the AFP.

Go Hard: Aston Martin Vantage GT8

British luxury carmaker Aston Martin has unveiled the new Vantage GT8, a limited-edition £165,000 ($234,000) version of the vanilla Vantage that the company claims is as close to a road-going racing car as the law allows.

Just 150 examples are being built and the first deliveries won’t start until the end of the year. But those with the money and the patience will get a GT car infused with a host of features and systems developed through Aston Martin’s endurance racing program.

The Vantage GT8 is 100kg lighter than the existing Vantage and its 4.7-liter naturally aspirated V8 has been tuned to deliver 440bhp. Crucially for purists, that power can be delivered to the rear wheels via a proper manual gearbox, if the owner so desires. Otherwise, there’s a paddle-shift automatic transmission in the options list.

Director of Special Projects and Motorsport, David King said: “We long held the desire to create a road car that truly reflects our racing activity at Le Mans. With the Vantage GT8, we’ve finally been able to achieve that.”

Though based on the standard two-seat GT car, no one will be in any doubt that the GT8 is something special. Festooned with carbon fiber aerodynamic aids it has an extended front splitter, fixed rear wing and protruding sills finished in a choice of luminous contrasting colors.

But that’s just the start, depending on how often a potential owner intends to take the car to the track. Glass interior switches can be swapped for plastic, the roof can be specified in carbon fiber and the side and rear windows swapped for polycarbonate to save even more weight and therefore unleash even more performance.

“Road cars are our business, but racing is the beating heart of Aston Martin,” said company CEO Dr Andy Palmer. “Beautifully engineered and set-up to be equally at home on a fabulous road or a demanding race track, the Vantage GT8 is a driver’s car in the truest sense of the word.”

AM37: New Aston Martin Powerboat

The Salone del Mobile at the Milan Design Week welcomed Aston Martin as the brand unveiled the AM37. No, it was not a new luxury GT. Instead, the British luxury car manufacturer has decided to take a dive and turn its attention to boats.

The AM37 isn’t just any boat, it is a powerboat that showcases the best of Aston Martin’s design and approach to aesthetics and comfort. The powerboat has been in the making for over five years, as part of Aston Martin’s collaboration with Quintessence Yachts. More than just a pretty face, the boat will not be used to generate publicity. One lucky bidder will be able to purchase the AM37 later this year once it goes on sale.

“It is true that a beautiful, simple shape is critical to a product’s success but it must also have drama, which is provided by surface language, proportions, and through the choice of exciting materials,” said Aston Martin Chief Creative Officer, Marek Reichman. “The new powerboat represents the ideal combination of luxurious and technical materials, generating a powerful yet understated finished product.”

As for why the AM37 is making its debut at the Salone del Mobile, we honestly have no clue but Reichman’s emphasis on design language offers the best clue.

Aston Martin Vantage V12 S Goes Manual

The Aston Martin Vantage V12 S, still the fastest production Aston Martin, is a variation on the Vantage model meant to titillate the desires of the purists via the inclusion of a proper manual transmission for real driving fun. While it is going back to an older more mechanical age there, the Vantage is also going to have all the latest infotainment and navigation goodies that owners of other automotive exotica take for granted, complete with live traffic alerts and support for Apple’s Car Play.

Anyway, these changes imply that Aston Martin is actually listening to what collectors want, and they want to make a car that pulls the heartstrings of the consumer straight, away from other concerns about finance and whatnot. “The true purist will always hanker for the tactility and connection offered by a manual transmission, so it has been a real pleasure to offer just that in our fastest and most focused model,” said Director of Product Development, Ian Minards.

Even the transmission in the Vantage is a seven-speed box complete with a ‘dog leg’ first gear to allow for the fastest changes between the other gears. Best of all, the manual box is a ‘no cost’ option. It also doesn’t cost anything in terms of performance; regardless of transmission choice, the car boasts the same top speed — 205mph and a 3.9 seconds 0-100km/h time.

The Gaydon firm still injected a bit of tech in the transmission though with something called the AMSHIFT. While the popularity of paddle-shift systems in exotic cars means heel-toe gear changing is a dying art, the AMSHIFT will blip the throttle on the down change and allow the accelerator to stay flat to the floor on the upchange — in other words, the two cool things that paddle changing offers.

“Technology drives us forward, but we understand the importance of tradition,” said Minards. “At a time when manual transmissions have almost entirely disappeared in high performance cars, this makes the manual V12 Vantage S a very special car indeed”. You have to give props to Aston Martin, for being able to provide the immersive feedback that drivers enjoy despite the forward thrust towards automation.

Unique Aston Martin DB10 Sold for $3.4m

Picture yourself sitting in the driver’s seat of the exceedingly rare Aston Martin DB10, humming the theme music of James Bond as you conquer a corner in style. As it happens, the car shared screen time with James Bond as he navigated the adrenaline-filled plot in Spectre. Rare as the DB10 is (only 10 were made), you can only dream of driving it but, for one determined collector, dreams came true. At a thrilling auction at Christie’s in London, the only DB10 made available for public sale fetched a stunning £2,434,500 ($3,476,466). This is almost £1 million above the high end of the estimate, as we reported here. The auction saw the car go under the hammer with 10 other lots, which together made up a curated collection called “James Bond Spectre –The Live Auction”.Aston-Martin-Db-10-1

This piece of automotive history is a celebration of the five-decade relationship that Aston Martin has enjoyed with Bond. The car also hints at what we can expect from the brand in future. Of the 10 cars that were handcrafted at the brand’s Gaydon headquarters, eight were modified for the filming of the movie. The other two were kept in pristine condition, which allowed for Christie’s to put one up for auction.Aston-Martin-DB-10

All proceeds of the sale were donated to the international humanitarian aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières, otherwise known as Doctors without Borders, which provides medical care and support to victims of armed conflict, epidemics and disasters. Aside from the DB10, a further 14 lots are available in the online sale that runs till February 23 to celebrate the release of the 24th Bond film on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD.

Force Awakens at Detroit: Henrik Fisker Supercar

While legal wrangling almost kept the covers on the Henrik Fisker-designed VLF Automotive Force 1 supercar, what has emerged at the North American International Auto Show 2016 is actually a limited edition vehicle that is ready to go into production. Thanks to legal wrangling and claims of copyright infringement that have been plaguing the model since its first teaser sketches were published late last year, it looked as if the concept car might never see the light of day. Read on and you will discover that this is more than a mere concept at this point.

First of all, some background is needed on this saga. While not many will recognize the name Henrik Fisker, pretty much everyone knows Aston Martin. The legal action in question was from Aston Martin, Fisker’s former employers, who claimed the car looked too much like its DB10. Fisker promptly counter-sued and thus continued a love-hate relationship the two parties have been engaged in of late — recent Fisker concepts based on current Aston Martin models have been successfully stopped from going into production for similar reasons.

However now the car has made its debut, any potential likeness with an Aston Martin is difficult to glean; in fact, it looks as if it should have been supercar companies seeking legal counsel, because the car is more than just a concept, it is going into limited production – 50 initial examples – with a $268,500 asking price.

For that sum, owners will get a car designed by the man responsible for penning the lines of the Aston Martin DB9 and BMW Z8 and one backed by former GM boss Bob Lutz and racing driver Ben Keating. The shell is carbon fiber to cut as much weight as possible and the engine under that aggressive hood is reminiscent of a Dodge Viper — an 8.4-liter V10 with no turbos or superchargers attached (other reports confirm that is a Dodge V10 powerplant). That means a 0-100km/h time of 3 seconds and a standing quarter mile time of 10.97 seconds.

Under the carbon fiber paneling is a cutting-edge chassis and computer-controlled suspension setup that promises fine handling as well as blistering but predictable straight-line speed. But perhaps best of all for supercar purists, is that this car comes with a six-speed manual transmission as standard. Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Porsche have all now ditched the stick-shift in favor of paddles and in doing so have robbed keen drives of greater involvement.

However, not everyone who could potentially fall for the Force 1 is a purist so an automatic option will also be available – complete with the now obligatory steering-column-mounted paddles.