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First look: Aston Martin eyes Porsche

Handbuilt: Aston Martin hopes its legendary craftsmanship will attract customers to its new volume selling 911 rival.

An all-new small Aston Martin to rival Porsche's iconic 911 will appear in 2005

5 Nov 2002

ASTON MARTIN officials say an ambitious new sales volume drive spearheaded by an all-new small coupe to directly rival Porsche's iconic 911 will not threaten the exclusivity upon which the brand is built.

Codenamed AM305 but likely to wear a DB5 badge when it surfaces at the 2004 British motor show, the two-seater "baby Aston" will join the flagship Vanquish supercar and a new DB7 coupe/convertible as Aston Martin's third model line.

Priced between $210,000 and $225,000, the smallest Aston is projected to comprise 60 per cent of Aston Martin's range. The new V8-powered rear-drive coupe is integral to the company's plans of increasing sales from the 1550 it expects to achieve in 2002, to beyond 5000 by 2005.

As part of the growth plans, the company that has produced just 18,000 cars in its 88-year history (around the same as Porsche in three to four months) also wants to increase the number of countries in which it is sold from 31 to 45, while the number of Aston Martin dealers globally will eventually increase from a current 81 to around 140.

"We're not talking 10,000 cars here," said Aston Martin executive operations manager Middle East/Asia-Pacific/overseas Stefan Spruck.

"Higher volume means changes to both production and used car processes, so we need to be more flexible and keep a closer eye on the used car market." At the same time, Aston Martin executives deny the new small car also has the potential to cannibalise Premier Auto Group partner Jaguar's own XK coupe/convertible range, which will be replaced the same year.

"We need to do plenty of work to increase our brand awareness in Australia," said Mr Spruck. "(But) XK is a different world of customers. We will have some up-promoters but I don't have my crystal ball with me." Closer to home, Jaguar Australia CEO Danny Rezek, who through his company's ties with PAG has become importer by proxy for Australia's five factory-direct Aston Martin dealers, admits there will be crossover between AM305 and XK.

"Clearly there are some similarities, but it's a more individual product. There's also the character. At the end of the day they (Aston Martin owners) still have plenty of cars, like a couple of Jaguars.

"That's the beauty of PAG - we have a portfolio of products. These days we have more overlapping customers, but price-wise there's still a big gap between Aston Martin and Jaguar." The number of Australian Aston Martin dealers has expanded from two to five in the past 18 months, the local network now including factory-direct outlets in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast.

Collectively, they expect to shift 20 Aston Martins this year, including three Vanquish flagships already delivered, but that number is expected to triple to up to 60 by 2005.

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