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First look: Aston slots V12 into Vantage

Super coupe: Aston Martin's new V12 Vantage has pompted 30 Aussies to reach for their wallets.

Twelve-cylinder power to motivate top-shelf Aston Martin two-seater coupe

5 Feb 2009

ASTON MARTIN has a revealed a new top-shelf V12 version of its Vantage two-seater coupe, for which about 30 well-heeled Australians have already expressed interest.

The new Vantage flagship will be priced in the low $400,000s, plus on-road costs, making it at least $150,000 more expensive than the V8 Vantage coupe ($258,737) and about $50,000 pricier than the V12 DB9 coupe ($358,572).

However, the V12 DBS ($497,441) will remain Aston Martin’s premium two-seater coupe.

No V12 version of the V8 Vantage convertible ($284,159) is coming, leaving the DB9 Volante ($388,231) as the British sportscar brand’s most expensive convertible – for now.

Like the freshly revealed V12 Vantage, the topless Volante version of the DBS will make its world public debut at the Geneva motor show on March 3 (when full pricing will be announced), before first examples arrive in Australia during September.

44 center image Left: V12 Vantage and the forthcoming four-door Rapide (below).

Local deliveries of both new models will start in October, with up to 15 examples of the V12 Vantage due for Australia this year – from an annual global production of just 300 to 500 examples.

Aston Martin’s regional sales manager for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, Marcel Fabris, said the company was holding about 30 expressions of interest for the V12 Vantage “at this stage”.

“Dealers are taking deposits, but we haven’t officially turned on our ordering and specification system for the car yet,” he said.

“It’s extremely promising, given the first formal confirmation of the V12 Vantage came just last night in Europe.

“As we’ve said, we will build just 1000 units in total globally over a two and a half year period. The intention is that initial production of the car will be relatively high in the first 12 months to fulfil the initial order backlog, before production slows down for the remaining one and half years of production.

“We’re expecting that initially we will probably land between 10 and 15 cars in Australia before the end of 2009.” Mr Fabris confirmed that fresh images of Aston Martin’s Rapide currently circulating on the internet do indeed reveal the production version of the exclusive UK brand’s highly anticipated four-door grand tourer, which first emerged two years ago at the 2007 Detroit motor show.

Unlike that original concept “buck”, which was painted “tempest blue”, the car in the new images is white, and appears to be faithful to the show car.

Mr Fabris would not confirm or deny the possibility that both the production Rapide – and a new Lagonda concept also due to emerge this year – could surface at Geneva in a month.

“Having seen the car I can say that yes, it (the car in the new images) is as close as it gets to the production version. But our focus right is on the V12 Vantage coupe and DBS Volante,” he said.

Mr Fabris confirmed the Rapide would enter production at automotive specialist Magna Steyr’s dedicated plant at Graz in Austria in January next year, before customer cars begin arriving in Australia later in the first quarter of 2010.

He said between 30 and 40 Australians had already put up their hands for the Aston Martin four-seater, which will rival the likes of Maserati’s Quattroporte, the Mercedes-Benz CLS and forthcoming models from Porsche (Panamera), Audi (A7) and even Lamborghini (Estoque).

Like the flagship DBS, the Rapide will feature adaptive air suspension and ceramic brakes, but the DBS will remain Aston Martin’s most performance-focussed model. As such, the Rapide will be priced between the DB9 and DBS four-seater coupes.

“The Rapide will have look and feel of Aston Martin, but it will more realistically seat four people than the DB9 and DBS’ two-plus-two layout,” said Mr Fabris.

As previously reported, the V12 Rapide super-sedan is based on the two-door DB9 but features a Benz S-class-like wheelbase that is 255mm longer and 63mm higher in the roofline.

Kerb weight is expected to be around 1940kg – some 130kg more than the DB9, but the company’s 6.0-litre V12 should still see it hit 100km/h in around 4.5 seconds, matching the less expensive Panamera Turbo.

The V12 Vantage, meantime, is claimed to be the most potent production spots car in Aston Martin’s 95-year history, and will be built alongside the V8 Vantage, DBS and DB9 at Aston Martin’s global headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

Like the DB9, the two-door, two-seat V12 Vantage will be built on Aston’s bonded aluminium vertical-horizontal (VH) structure wearing an aluminium, magnesium and steel composite body that features gas-discharge low-beam headlights and LED tail-lights.

Official figures ahead of its Geneva reveal it will feature a front/mid-mounted 48-valve 5.935-litre V12 that produces 380kW at 6500rpm and 570Nm at 5750rpm – enough to accelerate to 100km/h in a claimed 4.2 seconds.

Top speed is stated at 305km/h, while combined fuel consumption and average CO2 emissions are listed at 16.35L/100km and 388g/km respectively.

Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez said the V12 Vantage – first revealed to potential customers last year – was brought to market in a record 12 months.

“This is the ultimate performance interpretation of the Vantage range, combining our most agile model with our most powerful engine,” he said.

“It represents the definitive driving package, providing spectacular performance to ensure a dynamically thrilling and everyday useable driving experience.

“The V12 Vantage has a unique character, unlike our other cars. This will appeal to different people with different tastes, allowing more people to enjoy the Aston Martin experience.

“This also illustrates one of Aston Martin’s key strengths – the ability to act quickly and turn concepts and ideas into reality.” Aston says that although the V12 engine weighs 100kg more than the standard Vantage’s V8 engine, lightweight materials including carbon-ceramic brakes, forged aluminium wheels, lightweight inner rear quarter panels and optional lightweight seats have resulted in an overall kerb weight that’s just 50kg heavier than the V8 Vantage and “near perfect” 51/49 front/rear weight distribution.

A rear-mounted six-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential and shorter (3.71:1) final drive ratio will be standard for the rear-drive V12 Vantage, which will wear 19-inch wheels – nine inches wide up front and 11 inches wide at the rear – with Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres (255/35 and 295/30-section respectively).

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