If you’ve ever witnessed one of Aston Martin’s V8 or V12 engines blast past at full song or even better, experienced the soul stirring sound from within the cockpit, hopefully from behind the wheel,…

Aston Martin pressing forward with its first production electric vehicle

Aston Martin RapidE EV
Aston Martin’s RapidE, a fully electric powered version of its Rapide S four-door coupe, is making progress toward production. (Photo: Aston Martin)

If you’ve ever witnessed one of Aston Martin’s V8 or V12 engines blast past at full song or even better, experienced the soul stirring sound from within the cockpit, hopefully from behind the wheel, word of an all-electric model about to be born from the storied Gaydon, Warwick, UK manufacturer might not elicit the same kind of enthusiasm that the second-generation Tesla Roadster did to the comparatively startup Palo Alto, California firm’s legions of EV zealots attending last month’s Hawthorne, CA semi truck launch program.

Truth be told, the good folks at Aston will have to work very hard to beat the Elon Musk dream car’s claimed 2.0-second sprint from standstill to 100km/h, but of course the RapideE won’t be competing directly with Tesla’s tiny sports car when it arrives on the market. Instead, Aston is projecting its 800-horsepower EV will achieve a 4.0-second sprint from standstill to 100km/h, a 250 km/h (155 mph) top speed, and an ambitious range of 400 km (250 miles) without de-rating, a technical term for reducing power in order to extend range.

Aston Martin RapidE EV
From these artist’s renderings, it’s easy to see the RapidE electric pulls some styling cues from the new Rapide AMR. (Photo: Aston Martin)

The details planned to achieve such performance haven’t been disclosed, but it’s thought a battery of at least 80kW should fit within the current car’s prop shaft torque tube, ideal for its low, central location, and helpful in keeping the Rapide’s passenger and cargo compartments as unaffected by the transition as possible. On this note, it’s undetermined whether the final RapidE will utilize the current single electric motor, like the test mule concept, or house two smaller motors at each rear wheel, being that both have advantages. The latter might allow for some extra frontal cargo space, which is always a bonus with grand touring cars like the Rapide. Aston is sharply focused on keeping the RapidE’s weight as close to the current gasoline-powered model as possible, which will be important to achieving the EV’s performance targets.

Aston Martin RapidE EV
With a diffuser this big, no one will be missing the Rapide’s dual exhaust ports. (Photo: Aston Martin)

As it is, the Rapide S is a long, low and very lean four-door coupe, capable of whisking four adults from nil to 100km/h 4.4 seconds, and then on to a 327 km/h (203 mph) top speed, much thanks to a front mid-mounted 552 horsepower 6.0-litre V12 with 465 lb-ft of torque, plus a Touchtronic III ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox capable of shift increments of just 130 milliseconds, which drives the limited-slip diff-enhanced rear wheels via a lightweight, quick spinning carbon-fibre prop shaft. Proposing to potentially shelve all this mechanical wonderment for something purely electrified is the equivalent of getting hyped up about an ETA quartz powered movement replacing the ébauche, escapement, balance spring, etcetera in a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Chronograph.

2018 Aston Martin Rapide S
Aston promises even better performance than its Rapide S, plus a 400-km range even when utilizing much of its power. (Photo: Aston Martin)

Still, anyone in business and/or finance knows you should never bet against the market, and these days the car market is certainly turning toward things electric. On that note, the RapidE was originally a concept developed in conjunction with the equally legendary performance car marque Williams, albeit the Grove, Oxfordshire, UK-company’s heritage is in motorsport, specifically Formula 1 in which it’s earned 16 championship titles by the likes of Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg (last year’s F1 champion Nico Rosberg’s father), Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill, and Canada’s own Jacques Villeneuve. It also has a less known engineering division.

2018 Aston Martin Rapide S
The Rapide’s long body allows plenty of space for storing multiple power units and a big battery. (Photo: Aston Martin)

Williams Advanced Engineering, which is also working to develop models for Nissan’s performance division Nismo, the sub-brand behind specially-tuned models including the GT-R, and previously partnered with Jaguar to create the esteemed C-X75 hybrid supercar, while also having designed and assembled the first battery system for the fully-electric open-wheel FIA-sanctioned Formula E championship, has been partially responsible for the RapidE’s development, the EV’s full-scale production initially planned for right about now. Unfortunately the previous production partner, China’s LeEco, a cellphone and streaming firm, pulled out due to financial problems resulting from its work with floundering EV car builder Faraday Future, so instead Williams will take over engineering integration of a small 155-unit RapideE run set to arrive in 2019.

2018 Aston Martin Rapide S
There’s no need for as much front ventilation because the RapidE won’t have a radiator, but depending on where the production car’s battery goes it will also need a lot of cooling. (Photo: Aston Martin)

“Williams Advanced Engineering has always endeavoured to work collaboratively with its customers to meet their sustainability challenges and find energy efficient solutions,” said Paul McNamara, Technical Director at Williams Advanced Engineering. “For today’s car manufacturers, this is particularly important as legislation demands more energy efficient vehicles. This project with Aston Martin will draw on the extensive battery and EV experience we have accumulated and we are extremely pleased to be supporting this prestigious British company with their future electrification strategy.”

2018 Aston Martin Rapide S
Future cooling vents for a front-mounted battery or will Aston keep its hood louvres just for style? (Photo: Aston Martin)

The upcoming RapidE, which appears based upon the Rapide AMR concept, looks much like a regular Rapide in its current test mule phase, other than blue accents and unique RapidE badging with a stylized plug forming from the final E’s middle prong. Inside, the RapidE’s instrument panel gets battery life and regenerative braking indicators, replacing some of the now redundant gasoline engine’s gauges. So far there aren’t any changes planned for the interior, trim aside.

Likewise, the RapidE’s suspension should carry forward mostly unchanged. The prototype rides on an identical setup to the current V12-powered road car, and while the former is hardly ready for primetime (with those having driven it complaining of truck-like handling) Aston will need to keep RapidE production costs within reason. So far the prototype doesn’t include any electronic driver assistance systems such as stability-control software, while its even missing a finished cooling package to keep the battery from overheating, the old radiator now unnecessary. Reportedly, straight-line performance and range are test mule weak points too, the British brand still having plenty of work to do before the production RapidE is ready.

2018 Aston Martin Rapide S
According to reports, much of the Rapide S’ suspension will remain intact during the transformation, reducing costs and maintaining desired handling targets. (Photo: Aston Martin)

Aston and Williams are charging ahead to solve such issues, all of which are necessary hurdles for any manufacturer to overcome when transforming a gasoline-powered vehicle to fully electric, and the finished product should coincide with the launch of Aston’s new DBX crossover SUV and Lagonda luxury sedan. We’ll have to wait to see if EV versions of these latter two models materialize in production form (the DBX concept used four wheel-mounted electric motors), but it only makes sense being that some of the British brand’s most important markets are planning to eradicate internal combustion engines in the not too distant future. In fact, it’s quite likely that delays of these models coming to market stem from a need to make sure they’ve been inherently designed to accept electrification, something the Rapide was not, which has caused greater challenges and compromises in the transformation.

2018 Aston Martin Rapide S
We can expect the production RapidE to continue forward with Aston’s rich interiors. (Photo: Aston Martin)

“Having unveiled the RapidE Concept back in October 2015 we reach another milestone with the confirmation that we are now putting the first all-electric Aston Martin into production,” said Dr. Andy Palmer, Aston Martin’s President and CEO. “RapidE represents a sustainable future in which Aston Martin’s values of seductive style and supreme performance don’t merely co-exist alongside a new zero-emission powertrain, but are enhanced by it. The internal combustion engine has been at the heart of Aston Martin for more than a century, and will continue to be for years to come. RapidE will showcase Aston Martin’s vision, desire and capability to successfully embrace radical change, delivering a new breed of car that stays true to our ethos and delights our customers.”

2018 Aston Martin Rapide S
Certainly the RapidE will be fast, but just how Aston manages to maintain driver engagement is unknown. For instance, could paddle shifters make the transformation? (Photo: Aston Martin)

It’s good to hear Mr. Palmer confirm that internal combustion engines won’t disappear from the automaker’s lineup entirely, although their future availability will hardly matter in jurisdictions planning to totally eradicated them, such as Aston’s own Britain that’s promised to ban diesel and gasoline-powered engines by 2040, following a similar position across the English Channel in France, and since followed up by comparable sentiments in important premium car markets such as California and China, the latter already a leader in electric car development and production.

Such steps are arguably important for the greenification of the world, depending on how the electricity is sourced, but for performance car enthusiasts the thought of never again hearing the glorious mechanical machinations of an Aston Martin’s internal combustion engine are just too sad to contemplate. Still, being how important electric powertrains are to Aston’s low- and zero-emission Second Century Plan strategy, the RapideE is just the beginning. In fact, electric propulsion will be part of every Aston Martin by the mid-2020s, whether in the form of full electric power or hybrid, and EVs are expected to make up 25 percent of A-M sales by 2030.

It’s just another four-door, right? Wrong. Aston Martin’s ravishingly beautiful Rapide S is a 552-hp V12-powered DB9 exotic sports coupe with two extra doors, resulting in the coolest possible way…

2017 Aston Martin Rapide S Road Test

I'm going to miss the sound of internal combustion. Truly, as fascinating as the world's obsession with automotive electrification is, and as amazingly powerful as some EVs are, the Aston Martin sponsored Red Bull Racing F1 car and the two companies' forthcoming Valkyrie supercar even incorporating hybrid drivetrains, nothing gets a car enthusiast's adrenaline racing faster than a raspy V12 at peak revs.

The Rapide S' 6.0-litre V12 is especially sonorous, although its more Roger Taylor's I'm In Love With My Car than Freddie's Bicycle Race. The sound is exhilarating, but everything else about this four-door sport coupe is completely over the top, so having a soundtrack to match is only fitting.

Just look at it. From one end to the other the Rapide is as long, low and lean as four-doors get. The augmented grille came as part of its 2014 redesign. It's a bolder take on a classic Aston theme, with more luxury car presence than the narrower split design from the original, Read Full Story
There’s been a V8 in Aston Martin’s lineup since 1969, and while the latest version wasn’t designed in-house by famed engine-builder Tadek Marek or massaged from the Ford-sourced albeit hand-assembled…

Lighter, nimbler Aston Martin DB11 gets twin-turbo V8 power

2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8
Aston’s relationship with Mercedes-AMG bears fruit with this fabulous 503-hp V8-powered DB11. (Photo: Aston Martin)
There’s been a V8 in Aston Martin’s lineup since 1969, and while the latest version wasn’t designed in-house by famed engine-builder Tadek Marek or massaged from the Ford-sourced albeit hand-assembled AJ37, it’s very special just the same. This one hails from Mercedes’ AMG headquarters, unlike the in-house engineered and produced 600 horsepower twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12 that’s currently under the DB11’s long, elegant hood, but it nevertheless remains individually hand-built. The new 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 makes a considerable 503 horsepower and 498 lb-ft of torque, which is a major step up from the current A-M 4.7-litre naturally aspirated V8 that puts out 430 horsepower and 361 lb-ft of torque in top-line “S” guise. This allows for a near identical standstill to 100km/h sprint time of 4.0 seconds to the V12-powered DB11 that manages the feat in 3.9 seconds, whereas the V8’s top speed is rated at 301 km/h (187 mph) compared to the V12’s 322 km/h (201 mph).
2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8
A cleaner design sans twinned centre hood vents and smoked headlamp bezels help distinguish V8-powered DB11s. (Photo: Aston Martin)
Being that terminal velocity is more about bragging rights than anything useful, similar to the “need” for a 390 bar Rolex Deepsea or even a 120 bar Sea-Dweller when a regular 30 bar Sub will do just fine (serious divers use wrist computers anyway), most DB11 buyers should be more than satisfied with the V8’s everyday performance, while even more appealing is the smaller engine’s 115-kilo (254-pound) weight reduction, most of which is over the front wheels, as well as the car’s lighter 1,760-kg (3,880-lb) curb weight, plus the fact the V8 gets pushed rearward behind the front axle for better weight distribution. According to A-M’s press release, the new layout and reduced weight makes for “an increased sense of agility,” although such improvements also need to be attributed to “detailed revisions to the suspension bushing, geometry, anti-roll bars, springs, dampers and ESP software.” Therefore, “the V8 appeals to those customers drawn to a refined and comfortable GT with a more sporting bias,” continues Aston Martin. We’re certainly ok with that.
2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8
V8-powered DB11s get unique wheel designs as well. (Photo: Aston Martin)
While the engine comes completed from AMG, Aston adds its own air intake, exhaust system, and slimline wet sump lubrication design, the latter allowing a lower centre of gravity, before creating new ECU software and reprogramming the engine and throttle mapping, giving it performance characteristics and sound qualities more familiar to Aston Martin owners, and finally fastening it into the DB11’s engine bay via bespoke engine mounts. “As an engineer I find the DB11 a fascinating car,” said Max Szwaj, Aston Martin Chief Technical Officer. “One with great depth of character and ability. Of course the V12-engined variant is an icon – an ultimate, if you like, but the V8 is very much its own car. One with a distinct and carefully crafted character that’s truly seductive. It has been hugely rewarding to put our stamp on this new engine – both in the way it sounds and performs – and to use its impressive attributes as the impetus to reveal a little more of the DB11’s sporting character.”
2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8
Powertrain and few exterior trim items aside, the DB11 V8 gets the same standard and available features as the V12. (Photo: Aston Martin)
As for distinctive characteristics that set the V8-powered DB11 apart from the V12 model, A-M removes the two nostril-style engine vents from the hood’s centre panels for an arguably cleaner look, adds darkened headlamp bezels, and leaves all other differentiation up to unique wheels all-round. The two remaining engine vents are available in black or a titanium-finish mesh. There are no differences with either V8 or V12 cabins, as each car receives an identical list of standard features and the same extensive menu of available colours and optional trims. We’d like to think Aston Martin owners are environmentally conscious, although such issues probably don’t matter as much to the brand’s performance- and luxury-oriented clientele as to the automaker itself, which is forced to deal with a literal world of regulating bodies that are forever increasing their emissions restrictions. Therefore A-M is proud of the new V8 engine’s CO2 figure of 230g/km, which allows for lower taxation rates in key growth markets like China.
2018 Aston Martin DB11 V8
New AMG-built twin-turbo V8 gets plenty of Aston handiwork, plus a signature on top to verify that it’s handbuilt. (Photo: Aston Martin)
“The DB11 is the most complete and sophisticated car Aston Martin has ever made,” said Dr. Andy Palmer, Aston Martin President and CEO. “Now, with this new V8 engine option we have broadened its appeal by offering a car that will bring the DB11 to more customers around the world while still blessed with the exceptional performance and memorable character that sets Aston Martin apart from its rivals. Having driven the car during its development phase, it is not just the engine that has changed the character of the car, but also the resulting dynamic changes to create a remarkable GT car with its own distinct personality from the V12.” The new V8-powered DB11 will be available in the North American markets during Q4 of 2017, with pricing starting at $198,995 USD. Expect Canadian pricing and other details closer to availability.
Is there a more beautiful grand touring car on the planet? Certainly the all-new DB11 will be high on auto enthusiasts’ lists, but for many sports car aficionados the more classic GT lines of Aston…

Aston Martin Vanquish S makes a brilliant GT even better

Is there a more beautiful grand touring car on the planet? Certainly the all-new DB11 will be high on auto enthusiasts' lists, but for many sports car aficionados the more classic GT lines of Aston Martin's Vanquish still rule supreme.

The Vanquish might hail from Aston's earlier design language, but it hardly looks dated. Its second-generation redesign arrived on the scene in 2012 for the 2013 model year after all, so it's still fairly fresh as far as super GTs go, and now the new Vanquish S builds on appearances while upping performance for one of the most enticing new models to hit the road so far this year.

"From the moment the original Vanquish was launched it became a modern icon. It propelled Aston Martin from an era of hand-built cars to one where craftsmanship and technology combined to create a new kind of great British GT," said Dr. Andy Palmer, Aston Martin President & CEO.

"In its second generation the Vanquish maintained that momentum with huge Read Full Story
Witness the birth of an entirely new Aston Martin platform and design language; the 2017 DB11 a completely fresh creation from the ground up. Even the 600-hp 5.2L V12 is new, and developed in-house. It…

2017 Aston Martin DB11 Launch Edition Road Test Review

Chances are if you're an Aston Martin fan you tend to lean more toward classic styles than the latest trends, and I'm not just talking about your rolling stock. Your clothing is probably more along the lines of Brioni, Burberry or Ralph Lauren than Poyz & Pirlz, your feet are more likely covered by Florsheim or Franco Sarto than Asos Monk or Giuseppe Zanotti, you wear a Patek or Lange on your wrist rather than a Franck Muller or Harry Winston, your glass is filled with a 25 year old Bowmore single malt or Beefeater 24 and tonic rather than a Liquid Currency, Long Strange Trip, Winnie Cooper or Zombie. I respect your choices. Really, I love Don Draper and Joan Holloway too, but let's face the reality that the times they are a changin'.

If Aston Martin has a weakness, its various designs and the engineering behind them rely too heavily on past achievements. Others, however, will see adhering to tradition as the British brand's greatest strength. All I can say to those in the Read Full Story