Auto blogThu, 19 Dec 2013 16:01:00 EST
The development of a partnership between Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin has been a long time coming. The news dates back to 2008, and over the five years since was supposed to lead to a rejuvenation of both the Maybach and Lagonda brands. That program ultimately fell apart, but the tie-in was forged afresh in July when the two automakers signed a letter of intent over a renewed partnership. And now that partnership has been formalized.
In a deal just announced, Mercedes-AMG will build a new V8 engine for Aston Martin that will power a new generation of luxury GTs for the British marque, presumably to replace the 4.7-liter V8 in the Vantage. The relationship appears to be similar to the one already in place between AMG and Pagani, only in this case, will involve Daimler taking as much as a five-percent stake in Aston Martin and an observer seat on Aston's board.
The technical partnership is also set to lead to the supply of electric and electronic systems, and could incorporate "additional areas of cooperation in the future." Whether that will include a fresh attempt at reviving Lagonda remains to be seen, as does the future of Aston's long-serving, Ford-based 6.0-liter V12 engine. But for now you can read the full announcement below.
Every year Evo stages its Car of the Year test, bringing the best performance cars in the world to one location for an epic shootout. This year the magazine pitted eight CotY finalists against each other on Route Napoleon in Southern France - Evo claims it's the "best road in the world" - and then proceeded to nitpick the smallest of faults on each car until the winner could be named. You see, this year's lineup of machines was just so good that only one car obviously wasn't CotY material from the get-go. Can you guess which one judging from the list below?
- Aston Martin V12 Vantage S
- Audi R8 V10 Plus
A few weeks ago, we brought you news from the launch of the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante that the British brand, which is formally known as Aston Martin Lagonda, was still planning on going ahead with a Lagonda-badged crossover. Now comes word that that vehicle could very well be based on a Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
When the first Lagonda Concept debuted at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, it sat on a Mercedes-Benz GL-Class platform, some four years before Aston Martin and Mercedes-AMG deal was inked. And with that partnership, which will see Aston Martin gain access to AMG electrics and "bespoke, V8 powertrains," the opportunities for platform sharing are many.
Dr. Ulrich Bez, the boss of Aston Martin, told the UK's AutoCar, "I look at what Porsche is doing with the 911 as its core business and then it is able to do models like the Cayenne based on the Volkswagen Touareg. It is good business." We've said many times that we'll tolerate exotic CUVs and SUVs if it means keeping the beloved core models alive, which has been the case with Porsche. We see no reason Aston Martin wouldn't be able to do the same.
While slow sales and a $50,000 price tag may have been contributing factors to the Aston Martin Cygnet being cancelled last month, Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez is pointing the finger at Toyota for the demise of this luxurious little city car. In a discussion with Autocar, Bez is quoted as saying that the ultimate reason the Cygnet was cut is because Toyota plans on dropping the iQ (on which the Cygnet is based) in 2014 - a claim denied by the Japanese automaker.
Interestingly, the article also cites another publication reporting that a Toyota importer in the Netherlands heard the same news as Bez, and it has already stopped importing the cars. If the European Toyota iQ is cancelled, that would likely spell the end of the slow-selling Scion iQ in the US, which has sold just 3,365 units through September (a drop of 51 percent year over year).
Regardless of why production of the Cygnet ended, Bez also says that a lack of support from Toyota on the project prevented it from being offered in the US or receiving a supercharged engine, which are two factors that likely would have made the car appealing to more buyers.
After flirting for several years, Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin have finally tied the knot. Just don't expect to see any offspring to result from the union for at least three or four years.
This according to Auto Express, which spoke with Daimler chief Dr. Dieter Zetsche at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week. AE reports that a new range of AMG-developed turbocharged V8s, transmissions and electrical components will make their way into the successors to the current V8 Vantage and DB9, but that these models are still a few years off.
Purists might balk at the thought of a Mercedes-powered Aston holding true to the brand's heritage. But while David Brown (for whom the DB range is named) may have steered clear of shoehorning in Detroit muscle into his cars, the entirety of the company's current range is powered by engines borrowing technology from Ford, and that arrangement seems to have worked well for Aston until now. And if you're still skeptical, look no further than Pagani and its AMG-sourced engines and you should have all the proof you need that the new relationship between Daimler and Aston could be a success.
Can the Tesla Model S electric motor's 443 pound-feet of torque from zero rpm and equivalent of 416 horsepower trump the Aston Martin Rapide S V12's 457 lb-ft from 5500 rpm and 550 hp? Autocar attempts to answer that question by drag racing them - which only leads us to ask more questions. Which is the fastest around a race track? Is the Tesla's relatively low top speed of 130 miles per hour (the Rapide S can reach 190 mph) forgivable in light of its astounding torque? Does that even matter?
We hope Autocar's Steve Sutcliffe will pit the Tesla and the Aston Martin against each other again in the near future to answer those questions, and pick once and for all which one is the preferred luxury sedan. But until then he entertains us in the video below by raving about the Model S's attributes, pitching it into medium-speed sweepers and getting it a bit sideways with nothing but road and tire noise permeating the cabin - something people in the UK can experience for themselves once right-hand-drive cars go on sale there this spring.
Pebble Beach is an outstanding event if you're interested in pre-war classics, but outside of the parking lots, it's a bit light on more modern stuff. The Quail, now in its eleventh year, leans far more towards the present day, and has become one of the must-attend events of the Monterey car week.
Like Pebble, though, it's a highly exclusive affair, with triple-digit ticket prices that usually sell out at the same rate as a Justin Bieber concert. If you're one of the lucky few to hold a pass, though, you'll be rubbing elbows with a who's who of the auto world. One of the highlights of this year's event was the appearance of one Michael Schumacher, who showed up alongside one of his Formula 1 cars. A retrospective was also held on Lamborghini's 50 years of production, as well as another celebration of Aston Martin's centennial. There was also a tribute to the late Martin Swig, one of the co-founders of the California Mille, who passed away last year.
The cars, not surprisingly, were epic. Lamborghini, Pagani, Spyker, Rolls-Royce, BMW, McLaren, Bugatti and Galpin Ford all showed new models to the public for the first time, while there were also appearances by Jim Glickenhaus and his Ferrari P4/5 and P4/5 Competizione, marking the first time the coach-built masterpiece and its racing offspring were shown together. Finally, the Petersen Museum showed off its wears, including the late Steve McQueen's gorgeous Jaguar XK-SS.
A little over two months ago came reports that Daimler and Aston Martin were in talks, again, about "supply and technical-cooperation agreements." The next step has been taken with Aston Martin announcing that it has signed a Letter of Intent that looks "towards a technical partnership" with Mercedes-AMG GmbH, and the two companies aiming to have definitive agreements done by year's end.
While it will get to use certain electric and electronic components from AMG, the true golden egg for the maker of the Vanquish will be the ability to develop a new line of "bespoke V8 powertrains" that will be fitted to "a new generation of models." In return for opening up the larder, Daimler will get a non-voting stake of up to five percent of Aston Martin.
Nothing else is being said about the tie-up for the moment, but there's a press release below with a few more details.
YouTuber and car-fan extraordinaire Shmee probably had very little trouble tracking down the Top Gear film crew recently, as the group was putting together an episode that could accurately be described as "excessive." With its flag-waving (literally) Best of British theme, the TG guys gathered a jaw-dropping array of British cars, and parked them all right in front of Buckingham Palace to make extra sure that the point was driven home.
Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were outfitted with a trio of Jaguar F-Types festooned with gigantic Union Jacks, with which to survey the landscape of British motoring glory. In the video below, you'll see that this includes any number of Mini, Aston Martin, Lotus, McLaren, Land Rover, Bentley and Rolls-Royce models (just to name a few), as well as a healthy dose of weird stuff that most people would never guess at being built in the UK. The lawnmowers and military vehicles are especially cool.
We won't go into a recap here, but there are still leading positions being fought for in all classes - it's so close that leads are changing when a car goes into the pits. We'll let the recap wait until the end of the race, so for now enjoy some shots from last night's action at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.