Aston Martin grabs the pole at Lemans

From the Aston Martin website:

Friday 16 June, Le Mans, France: Aston Martin Racing has claimed an emphatic pole position and new lap qualifying lap record at the 85thrunning of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Piloting his #97 V8 Vantage GTE through the dead of night at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Darren Turner (GB) smashed through the original record during qualifying practice 3. Setting a 3m50.837 to claim pole in the process, he and teammates Jonny Adam (GB) and Daniel Serra (BR) have enjoyed the best possible start to their Le Mans weekend.

Turner said, “I’m really pleased to have been able to put the lap together. The team’s been kind to me this week and gave me the opportunity to have a few sets of tyres and the chance to go for it in qualifying. The car was perfect and dialled in completely and while there’s been a lot of track evolution over the past two days, the team have done a great job to keep on top of it. I’m really pleased for everyone at Aston Martin Racing. It’s a great start but there’s a long way to go from now to convert this into victory”.

Adam added, “That’s testament to all the hard work from the team. Just today they were completely rebuilding all of the cars but it felt fantastic when I was out there. That was a stellar lap from Darren and when the pressure was on he delivered. We’re in the best possible position with a car that feels great in both qualifying and race trim”.

Having broken the lap record moments before Turners effort, Richie Stanaway (NZ) set a lap time of 3m51.038 with the #95 V8 Vantage GTE. He and teammates Nicki Thiim (DN) and Marco Sorensen will begin Saturday’s iconic race in third position.

In GTE Am, the team’s #98 V8 Vantage GTE claimed second place for Saturday’s rolling start. With Pedro Lamy at the wheel, the Portuguese tried tirelessly to relinquish pole position from the rival Corvette and while not achieving his target, Lamy remained optimistic for the main event.

Lamy said, “At the beginning we were leading the class but we unfortunately lost the place to the Corvette. I’m a bit sad to not claim the pole but that’s just qualifying. I think the Corvette is a very fast car but I think we have a very strong driver line-up and our car is competitive on the longer runs. I hope we have a clean run in the race and can push right to the end”.

Paul Howarth, Team Principal, Aston Martin Racing said, “To come to Le Mans and take a pole position is great. It’s a small part of the race but a big boost for the team. It’s a long build up to Le Mans. It’s two weeks of hard work setting up our operations and testing. It’s all about getting everyone geared up for the hardest race in the world.

To deliver a pole position here in the pinnacle of motorsport is incredible and that’s something the whole team, Dunlop, Total and all our other partners have worked hard to make happen. We’ll enjoy this moment tonight but our focus has already turned to the race itself and executing the perfect race”.

Aston Martin Racing customer teams Beechdean AMR and TF Sport will also begin Saturday’s race from 8th and 9th in GTE Am respectively.

The 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will begin at 15:00 CET on Saturday 17 June.

Driving the DB11

Posted by: Brian Greenstone, Guest Blogger

First, let’s talk about the DB11’s performance. The engine generates 600 horsepower with the assistance of twin turbochargers. The turbos kick in at around 1500 RPM, so there’s virtually no turbo lag, and the boost they provide is incredible! It feels like being catapulted out of a slingshot when you apply the gas. However, horsepower alone does not make a great driving experience. All the power in the world won’t matter if the gearbox isn’t any good, and the gearbox in the DB11 is absolute perfection! The gear ratios are the finest I’ve ever experienced in any Aston to date. Accelerating up the gauge in 2nd gear is a tremendous rush, and then shifting into 3rd there’s no loss of torque or power at all. There is a seamless transition of acceleration with each gear change, so you never lose the face-ripping G-forces even for a second! I wish the car had a G-force readout because it sure felt like we were pulling near 1G at times.

The other important aspect of performance is handling, and here the DB11 does not disappoint. You just point the steering wheel where you want the car to go, and it goes. The car stays perfectly flat around the bends, and feels extremely confident. There are several suspension modes, and I preferred the middle stiffness. Similarly, there are several Sport mode settings: GT, Sport and Sport+. I found the Sport+ mode to be a bit too twitchy for me, so I drove all day in the regular Sport mode. The throttle had excellent sensitivity and was very reactive, and I drove using the paddle shifters rather than letting the computer control the 8-speed automatic transmission. The computer does a reasonable job in full automatic mode if you’re just driving to get somewhere, but if you’re driving for fun use of the paddle shifters is an absolute requirement.

The DB11 was a really easy car to drive, and it felt reasonably light and very agile. The throttle does exactly what you want it to do, and the car stays planted on the pavement. Despite the ridiculous acceleration I never had any problem with losing traction. In both my Vantage and Vanquish I always have to be careful about really punching it because it is so easy to get the rear wheels spinning, triggering the traction control warning light, but during my entire 200+ mile trip in the DB11 I never had the traction control light come on even once, and I never felt like I was holding back. I could give the car all the power I wanted and there was never a point where I lost confidence in the car’s ability to grip. Without incriminating myself, let me just say that the top speed I reached felt amazing! The car got up to top speed quicker and more easily than any other Aston I’ve driven, and I felt totally safe doing it. As far as the power and performance of the DB11 goes I would give it a solid 10 out of 10. There is absolutely nothing bad that I can say, and nothing I would recommend that Aston change because it was sheer perfection and excitement!

Acceleration and handling alone are not the only things that define the Aston Martin driving experience. There is a third element which is equally important: the exhaust note. Aston Martin is known for having some of the best exhaust notes in the business, and they’re called “notes” because it’s not just a blast of obnoxious noise like you might hear coming from a cheap American muscle car. The sound that comes out of the back of an Aston is truly a symphony of sound that is quite distinctive. You can tell an Aston is coming from a mile away, and there’s no confusing it with any other car. Unfortunately, the exhaust on the DB11 is surprisingly subdued for an Aston. Part of that may be because the engine is not naturally aspirated like the older models, but I suspect it’s also a conscious choice by the designers to appeal more to the Lexus crowd. You’re definitely not going to wake your neighbors in the morning when you start up this car, and you’re not going to be able to vent your frustration on slow minivan drivers as you blast by them in 2nd gear - an act which, in any other Aston, creates a sound not heard since the creation of the universe. The DB11 is not silent by any means, but it simply lacks the statement-making sound that is such a defining feature of the older models.

New Technology

Not all driving is going to be performance driving. Sometimes you just want to get from Point A to Point B in style, and that’s where comfort, technology, and ease of use comes into play. Thanks to the Daimler-Aston partnership the technology in the cockpit of the DB11 is vastly different from the previous generation. Easily the best technology upgrade that the car has is keyless entry and push-button start/stop. Talk to any existing Aston owner and they’ll tell you how annoyed they are by the ECU (“Emotion Control Unit”) which is basically just a key fob from a Volvo. The only emotion that cumbersome glass key ever evoked from anyone was frustration, but luckily those days are over. You can now leave your key in your pocket. The doors unlock automatically, and the car starts with a simple push of a button… like every other luxury car made in the last decade.

Another tech upgrade that’s new in the DB11 is the 360º parking camera. Instead of just a single backup camera, the DB11 has cameras all around the car, and the computer stitches together a 360º top view image of the car and its surroundings. Parking has never been easier. No more worrying if you’re going to bust your $4000 front splitter on a concrete parking block. Now you can see everything around the vehicle.

You get a lot of information in front of you.

You get a lot of information in front of you.

The rest of the new tech, frankly, I could live without. The old analog dashboard has been replaced with an all-digital one. If the digital dash somehow improved the experience that would be fine, but it doesn’t. I prefer the elegance of real gauges that look like fine timepieces. Analog guages that are complemented with smaller digital displays for things such as fuel economy, tire pressure, etc. are the best, but a single, all-encompassing, digital display takes some of the classiness away from the car.

Luckily, unlike many cars these days Aston didn’t replace every button and switch on the center stack with a distracting virtual touchscreen equivalent. There are still real buttons for most of the important things like radio and A/C controls. Touchscreens are not a bad thing, don't get me wrong. Modern cars simply have too many gadgets for each of them to have a separate button, switch, or dial (although Porsche would disagree since the interior of the Cayenne looks like the cockpit of a Boeing 747).

Unfortunately, the Daimler technology isn’t touchscreen based. Instead, it relies on a large dial and mouse-like device. I’m not a fan of this. It’s cumbersome and slow to use compared to a simple touchscreen, and the worst part is that it uses up valuable real estate below the center stack. No longer is there a 12v receptacle for radar detectors and other devices, nor is there anywhere to put your phone. There is a small, plastic tray at the base of the console which at first glance looks like a spot to put your phone, but it isn’t. A phone wouldn’t last 3 seconds in there when the car is moving.

The only place to plug in your 12v device is in the receptacle in the very back of the armrest which is actually behind you. So, you have to stretch your radar detector’s cord like a guitar string, and then work with it so you can partially close the electronic armrest. There is a tray in the front area of the armrest where you can put your phone, but it’s too far back for you to actually see it while driving. This may seem like a silly thing to nitpick about, but it’s actually a major problem for me. I use ‘Waze' almost daily for my navigation, so I need to be able to see my phone while driving, and I don’t want my radar detector’s cord strung up like a clothesline down the middle of the car. This is the one thing about the DB11 that I would strongly encourage Aston Martin to redesign.
 

Conclusions

Center console issues aside, the DB11 truly is an impressive and beautiful car. I thoroughly enjoyed my extended test drive, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I was more impressed with that car on the open road than any other Aston I’ve driven. Astons have always been considered “The Gentleman’s Sports Car,” and the DB11 certainly keeps that tradition alive with its beautiful styling and outstanding performance.

What Now? THE Boat

Aston Martin’s going through a pretty pivotal phase of its life. New boss, new relationship with Mercedes, new turbo engines, and above all, the new DB11. Oh, and the small matter of a new SUV that will be built in Wales.

In all of this, though, the British sports car maker has found time to dally with the world of marine transport. Meet the exceedingly opulent AM37, a wooden decked powerboat that’s likely designed to slot right into Monaco or Venice, but which will probably end up in Chelsea harbour.

Produced by Quintessence Yachts and the same craftsmen who worked on the One-77, Vulcan and DB11, it apparently challenges “the status quo of the nautical world”. It fuses maritime and automotive design elements, seemingly slotting a very car-like interior (right down to the steering wheel) into a very boat-like, um, boat.

It comes with some things you won’t find in Aston’s cars, mind, like a swimming platform and an electronic anchor system, which is deployed via the iPad-like control screen, and rear seating available for up to eight people. There’s air con, a fridge and coffee machine, all of which can be operated remotely as you make your way to the harbour.

Aston Martin introduces Art of Living

8 June, 2016, Gaydon: British luxury brand Aston Martin introduces Art of Living, an opportunity to experience the company’s legendary reputation for cutting-edge technology, iconic design and exceptional craftsmanship across a portfolio of the finest artisan products and truly bespoke experiences.

Since its founding in 1913, Aston Martin has developed a reputation for discernment and dynamism. The marque’s heritage has forged a rare blend of elegance and individuality that has transcended its cars.

Art of Living is a behind-the-scenes access at some of the world’s best events; it is a unique pair of sunglasses, a beautiful watch or an exquisite silk scarf. It is a way of life that captures the very essence of the Aston Martin brand.

Aston Martin Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman commented: “Art of Living is the Aston Martin spirit.  It is a beautiful mix of design, technology and style to enhance your life.  It is deep in our culture, it is in everything we create for our customers.”

Art of Living champions independent talent, refined craftsmanship and design integrity to create beautiful objects.  It is enjoying authentic experiences, enriching your passions and mastering new skills.  Engaging with the Art of Living will bring you closer to the soul of the brand, be it via a life-enhancing experience or by owning a uniquely special product.

Unique partnerships creating a diverse selection of exclusive luxury products

For over 100 years Aston Martin has had access to the most creative thinkers, outstanding designers and unique personalities. A fine example of Art of Living in practice is the AM37, a stunning 37-foot powerboat that is being created as the ultimate in maritime refinement in partnership with Quintessence Yachts. The new boat showcases the Aston Martin design philosophy where luxury meets technical excellence to create a powerful yet understated product.

Marma London recently launched an innovative new range of Aston Martin eyewear with detailing inspired by the beautiful lines of the Aston Martin Racing cars. The exceptional quality of the eyewear is reflected in every Art of Livingproduct, where style and substance are the order of the day.

Managing Director of AM Brands Katia Bassi noted: “The Art of Living portfolio of products will be delivered with the same care and quality that would be expected of a bespoke Aston Martin sports car.  This programme provides us with the opportunity to engage with our customers on a new level. We want them to share in the Aston Martin lifestyle.”

Once-in-a-lifetime experiences

The next extraordinary Art of Living by Aston Martin experience will take place at the world’s most thrilling endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

During an exciting three-day Fast Track Adventure at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, from 17 to 19 June 2016, guests will have the chance to immerse themselves in the heart of the action as the Aston Martin Racing team fights for glory. Beat the crowds by helicoptering into the circuit each day from the private chateau and meet the team’s racing drivers, before taking some of the best seats in the house for the big race.

Reichman commented: “Le Mans is the ultimate test of man and machine. It is comparable to a full season of Grand Prix racing all rolled into just one epic race.  Our Art of Living guests will become part of the Aston Martin family at Le Mans with unprecedented access to the Garage and Strategy Centre.  They will experience the unique atmosphere as our team battles it out on track to hopefully take another Aston Martin class victory.”

Information on other future Art of Living events will be released soon, including an extravagant weekend at the renowned Goodwood Revival; behind the scenes access to the finest fashion houses in Paris; a discovery of the technology and architecture of Japan and a unique Californian gastronomic experience, which will include private tastings and tours of the finest wines and vineyards.

Art of Living experiences are now available via a new digital platform, which will feature unique, curated content following the art, sports and fashion calendar.  www.astonmartinartofliving.com

Aston Martin to build 99 Vanquish Zagatos

Aston Martin unveils the limited edition Vanquish Zagato.

Unprecedented customer interest has pushed Aston Martin into a limited production run of the Vanquish Zagato Coupe.

The car, originally unveiled as a concept at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este at Lake Como, Italy, in May 2016, is the latest creation from its long-standing partnership with the Italian design-house Zagato. 

The concept was so well received, Aston Martin has decided to build 99 at its factory in Gaydon, England. Aston Martin has not revealed a price but Auto Express is reporting it will be around £500,000 (NZ$1 million) and that all the cars have been pre-sold.