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Aston GT is fastest DB7 yet

Mean streak: GT version of Aston Martin's volume selling DB7 features more performance, a stiffer chassis and a mild cosmetic makeover.

Aston Martin reveals a high-performance GT version of the popular DB7 at the British motor show

Aston Martin logo29 Oct 2002

ASTON MARTIN delivered one of the darlings of the British motor show in Birmingham last week when it unveiled a new high-performance GT version of its volume selling DB7 coupe.

Featuring a stiffer chassis, increased performance and aerodynamic improvements, the DB7 GT also features a new exhaust with by-pass valve to produce a note similar to that of the range-topping Vanquish.

Like the US-only DB7 Speedster and the rakish new DB7 Zagato launched at the September Paris motor, the Grand Touring version will be built in limited numbers and is aimed at keeping sales of Aston Martin's bread-and-butter DB7 coupe ticking over until its replacement breaks cover in 2004.

Due to go on sale in January - around the same time the lightweight DB7 Speedster hits California - the DB7 GT packs a slightly healthier, 325kW version of the Cosworth-built 48-valve alloy V12 that should see it undercut the DB7 Vantage's 5.7-second 0-100km/h acceleration.

Cosmetic revisions include a mesh sports grille, new bonnet with twin vents, rear lip spoiler and new five-spoke alloys, while new wheelarch liners and a revised undertray are said to reduce lift by 50 per cent. Of course, sports seats and carbon-fibre trim adorn the interior.

While the manual features a faster-shifting six-speed gearbox mated to an AP twin-plate racing clutch, an automatic version known as the GTA will also be available.

Meanwhile, the GT chassis is claimed to be 20 per cent stiffer than the donor car's, courtesy of different dampers, stiffer front subframe bushes, a relocated steering rack and a new rear wishbone brace-plate. Larger Brembo brakes with upgraded pads and a bigger booster unit round out GT's changes.

Expect the GT to dwarf the regular DB7 Vantage coupe's $313,000 pricetag in Australia by about $24,000 and, although only 100 Zagato specials will be built from this month (and even fewer DB7 Speedsters), strong demand DB7 GT could account for up to half of the 1000 DB7s produced next year.

The GT won't be on sale for long, however, with an all-new DB7 replacement due to surface around the middle of 2004. Based on a stretched version of the AM305 "baby" Aston's flexible new bonded aluminium platform, the new DB7 - codenamed AM803 - is expected to feature styling cues from the Zagato and could be called the DB8.

To be built at the Ford-owned Premier Auto Group's new Gaydon manufacturing facility in Warwickshire, Aston Martin's volume selling 2+2 coupe replacement is likely to sport a 330kW V12 and 0-100km/h acceleration of less than five seconds.

Designed by new dedicated Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisher, the new version of Aston's most successful model ever is said to have more emphasis on grand touring comfort and space, and is likely to increase in price.

Expect a paddleshift-operated sequential manual version to join the six-speed Getrag manual and six-speed ZF auto DB7 models by around mid-2005, while a new topless DB7 Volante is expected appear before 2006.

Finally, Aston Martin is also believed to be working on a new four-door luxury GT model to revive the Lagonda nameplate and rival the forthcoming Bentley Continental GT - but "not within the next four to five years", meaning 2007 at the earliest.

That timing - just a year before the Vanquish flagship is due and following the appearance of a new "baby" Aston Martin range - would give Aston Martin an all-new, four-model range within about five years.

What's coming from Aston Martin
New DB7 (AM803) - mid-2004
Baby Aston (AM305) - early 2005
DB7 with paddleshift - mid-2005
DB7 Volante - late 2005
New Lagonda - 2007
New Vanquish - 2008

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