Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Aston Martin V8

ONE of the most desirable cars in the world is to be made even more desirable with the imminent introduction of an upgraded Aston Martin V8 Vantage with a bigger engine.

To be introduced in the third quarter, the entry-level Aston – if such a term is applicable to a car that starts at $245,000 in Australia – looks much the same but gets some significant technical improvements.

Top of the list is an increase in engine capacity from 4.3 litres to 4.7 litres by increasing the bore and stroke from 89x86mm to a perfectly square 91x91mm, giving a displacement of 4735cc.

Power output consequently increases by 11 per cent to 313kW at 7000rpm while torque goes up 15 per cent to 470Nm at 5750rpm, providing a 0-100km/h time of 4.8 seconds (0.2 seconds faster than the current car) and a top speed of 288km/h with the optional and revised Sportshift sequential semi-auto transmission.

Combined European fuel economy and CO2 emissions are also improved by 13 per cent with the Sportshift transmission, which benefits from revised software and a revised clutch and flywheel that reduces weight by 0.5kg.

As well as hill descent detection, the rear-mounted Sportshift unit now also takes inputs from the steering wheel, enabling the current gear to be held when cornering.

Increasing the cylinder bore has been facilitated by a move to cylinder liners that are pressed into the alloy block, allowing a thinner liner than was possible with the cast-in design of the 4.3-litre engine.

A new forged steel crankshaft incorporates new holes in the counter weights for reduced rotating mass and improved inter-bay breathing, while the dry sump lubrication system includes a new sump casting with oil pick-up points moved from the front and rear to the sides of the sump.

Modified cylinder-heads get bigger intake ports and valves (up from 34.9mm to 35.9mm) while the intake manifold has also been modified to match the new porting to optimise air flow.

The other major area of improvement is the suspension, with the aim of improving body control for better handling while at the same time improving low speed ride quality.

A number of the components originally introduced on the Vantage Roadster are carried over to the Coupe, including revised upper damper mountings and bump stops. Bilstein low-friction dampers have been fitted as standard and the spring rates have been stiffened by 11 per cent at the front and five per cent at the rear.

Steering geometry is also modified to improve steering feel, while the front lower suspension arm compliance bushes are stiffened by 22 per cent to provide enhanced steering response and handling.

Apart from new 19-inch wheels, the exterior is unchanged, but the interior features a new diecast zinc alloy centre console, revised switchgear and the introduction of a DBS-style ECU (made from glass, stainless steel and polycarbonate) in place of a key.

Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez introduced the upgraded 2009 V8 Vantage Coupe and Roadster and said it was an important mid-cycle upgrade to a model that first grabbed headlines when it appeared as a concept at the 2003 Detroit motor show and two years later in production form at Geneva.

Since then, 10,000 Vantages have been hand-built at Aston Martin’s plant at Gaydon in Warwickshire, England.

“Continued development and evolution of our unique VH (Vertical-Horizontal) architecture has brought even higher levels of refinement and dynamic performance to our whole range,” said Dr Bez.

“With the new 4.7-litre engine and associated changes, we have taken the V8 Vantage to new levels of performance to produce an even more desirable sports car.

“The V8 Vantage is now the most successful Aston Martin in our history and we are confident these changes will continue its appeal and driving enjoyment for both new and existing customers.”


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