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Aston design chief says hypercar 'about 60 per cent'

Tron tease: Aston Martin's DP-100 Gran Turismo car was confined to the virtual world, but might hold a few secrets of the company's 2018 hypercar.

Secret full-sized model of Aston Martin’s AM-RB 001 hypercar already complete


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23 Mar 2016

ASTON MARTIN has revealed it already has a full-sized model of its upcoming AM-RB 001 hypercar after working on the joint-venture project with Red Bull Racing in “nine months of hard graft”.

The existence of the model was one of a number of tantalising details provided by Aston Martin chief creative officer and design director Marek Reichman in an interview with GoAuto in Melbourne, where the hypercar project was revealed to the world last week.

Mr Reichman said the only image released to date represented a combination of the vehicle's profile and complex airflow over its body at speed.

According to Mr Reichman, the white sketched areas provide a “glimpse” of the car's wheel arches and roofline, while the green flashes are an initial study of its aerodynamics and that the car would be more than functional.

“It's something beautiful,” he said. “It's something emotional. It's a very dynamic product. Even as a piece of sculpture it's going to be very dramatic. You're getting a tiny, tiny glimpse.” A teaser campaign is expected to maintain hype surrounding the car, but with an arrival date in about two years, Mr Reichman said the model had already progressed to a late stage in its styling.

“We've been working for nine months hard graft and 12 months in total,” he said. “We have a full-sized model.

“Part of the last phase is obviously the build of the car and what we call the prove-out. The last phase of it is probably a lot less of my time and much more of Adrian and the drivers. Where are we from my perspective? About 60 per cent.” The hypercar is being touted as Aston's foray into mid-engined cars, but the company has already explored the layout on two previous occasions. In the late 1970s, Aston created the monstrous Bulldog of which only one was produced, but more recently, the DP-100 dipped a toe into mid-engines, albeit in the virtual world.

Mr Reichman said the production hypercar would owe some of its genes to the Vision Gran Turismo concept.

“We have a plan to do a mid-engined supercar at the end of the day, and we have to start somewhere with that,” he said. “Doing DP-100 was always a way to express something at very little cost but we were able to gauge a reaction to that.

“We produced a hard model that we showed in some arenas, and that got a very, very positive reaction. People saw it as an Aston Martin, which was important.” While producing a virtual car might seem simple when compared with a driveable concept, Mr Reichman said the makers of the computer game required significantly more than just how the DP-100 would look.

“Whether it's directly influenced or it was back of mind thinking. That car was real in respect of layout. The technical specification that Gran Turismo demand you wouldn't believe how much they want to know. They want to know weight, tyre sizes ... so we learnt a lot.” Mr Reichman is leading the project along with renowned Formula One car designer and aerodynamicist Adrian Newey.

He said the enormity of the project required an extremely close relationship between engineering and aesthetics, with equal creative input.

“If he had said 'it's going to be like this' then I don't think we would be doing what we are doing, but he didn't,” he said.

“He said ‘what are you thinking about’ and I showed him and he said 'wow that's very close to where I think things need to be'.” With state-of-the-art computer modelling now available to car design teams, many cars start life on a screen, but Mr Reichman said the Aston hypercar had a more romantic beginning.

“He (Newey) draws on an A0 piece of paper with a pencil and French curves, he calculates from point A to point B where he wants the air to go and draws the shape in sections, and we generate a surface from that and we put it into CAD and it's near enough accurate to the millimetre to get the airflow that he wants. It's a gift that he has.” At the launch of the collaboration between Aston Martin and the Red Bull Formula One team, Aston CEO Andy Palmer said the hypercar would be able to lap a circuit as fast as a current F1 car.

When asked if the goal was feasible, Mr Reichman explained that it might not be as far-fetched as it seemed.

“This is Adrian working without the constraint of a formula. One of the biggest issues of a Formula One car is the open cockpit. If you take that away and imagine a very efficient upper surface something very pure, clean and very dramatic by its simplicity, you end up with a fusion of that fabulous technology and art together.” While no technical details have been officially released other that the car's mid-engine layout, Mr Reichman hinted at the model's driven rear wheels and full carbon-fibre construction.

“We have a very tough weight target and that gives you a hint at how we plan to put the power down,” he said. “Trying to get as close to one-to-one power to weight ratio is where we have to be to get the figures that we are talking about. A Formula One car is rear-wheel drive, so we know it is possible.

“I don't think there is another material where you could get the strength to weight ratio without being all carbon. It may have some aluminium elements in there or titanium but a majority will be carbon, and that's the technology that Red Bull have.” With a 1:1 power to weight ratio, the Aston would equal the Koenigsegg One:1's achievement, which managed one horsepower for each of its 1340 kilograms and was the first production car to crack the magic one megawatt (1000kW). It is not known what kerb weight Aston Martin is aiming for.

While the car is expected to look significantly different to any Aston before it, Mr Reichman said it would be unmistakably an Aston Martin and that the styling marked a new direction for future cars.

“You'd know it was an Aston – not in the same way as a DB11, more in the way you see Vulcan. There isn't a typical grille. It's a unique face but our cars are not just grilles.

“It has got to start to make a mark in terms of a direction. It has to. The special projects become the lead for an aesthetic change and a direction change.” While the hyper car is in its latter stages of design, the team is still yet to decide on a name, with several options up in the air.

“The visual and technical language of the car will be represented in its name. We have some, but it's not decided on. The story and the naming is really important and I think we have to be part of that team and the authors of that name.”

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