Tie-up with Mercedes could extend beyond engines and electronics and allow Aston Martin to build an SUV
27 October 2013

Aston Martin could share Mercedes-AMG platforms as part of its tie-up, says company boss Ulrich Bez.

The partnership could also lead to the revival of a plan to build Aston's first SUV.

Speaking to Autocar, Bez said there “was lots of potential to be discovered”. The initial technical deal between the two firms outlined in July gained Aston access to bespoke V8 engines and AMG electronic architectures for the next generation of Aston Martins.

“There is a potential to see how far it goes,” said Bez, referring to possible platform sharing. “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.”

Bez said he had courted a partnership with Mercedes-AMG since Aston revealed the Mercedes GL-based Lagonda SUV concept at the 2009 Geneva motor show. The deal means Aston can now consider putting an SUV into production. 

Likely to be launched around 2017 and based on the next Mercedes M-class, the SUV would be badged as an Aston Martin Lagonda, but it would be a complete reworking of the unpopular Geneva concept. 

Bez said the partnership also gave Aston the ability to react quickly to regulation changes. “The challenge in the future is for me to have a solution to, say, tax brackets in China; at the moment there is 100 per cent tax on engines over 4.0 litres,” he said. “In the future it might be less. You need to be flexible but, selling 5000-7000 vehicles a year, we can’t be.”

Bez said one thing that wouldn’t be affected by the tie-up is Aston’s 5.9-litre V12. “I believe the potential of our V12 is there for another 10 years at least,” he said.

Mark Tisshaw & Andrew Frankel

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16

28 October 2013

Aston's future was secure once Daimler came to its senses over Maybach.

They wouldn't buy AML outright (even for pennies) because of that whole debacle, which sorely dented their confidence.

However the engine deal suggested that nor was Daimler prepared to let Aston die, which would have badly tarnished it as a brand.

In five years, AML will hopefully be part of the Daimler group and all the better off for it. Well done, Dr Bez.

TBC

28 October 2013

The ex-Porsche boss has, for the duration of his tenure, been positioning Aston as a Porsche rival. This will allow him to realize that ambition, by finally building an SUV cash cow.

If that is what it takes for AM to survive, then so be it.

28 October 2013

Engines, now what else can we add?,gradually more European than a British product?

Peter Cavellini.

TBC

28 October 2013

My understanding was that the Aston V12 is made in Cologne......

28 October 2013

An "Aston Martin" that is a Mercedes underneath (no matter how modified) is NOT an Aston Martin. Period, end of. Remember that this is the same Dr. Bez who brought us the abomination that was the Cygnet (thankfully now gone) -- and told us that it was as "authentic" an Aston Martin as a DB5...

I bought an Aston Martin because I wanted an Aston Martin. If I want an M-B/AMG, I'll buy an M-B/AMG. I will not buy an "Aston" built on a M-B/AMG platform.

28 October 2013

I for one would hope that Aston never makes an SUV.
I cant think of one SUV that has any brand equity, except perhaps Range Rover. If they do decide to make one, then best to badge it as a Lagonda.

A better collaborative vehicle with AMG, would be to produce a re-bodied Merc S-Class with a touch of one-77! Aston's should be trying to match bespoke brands such as Bugatti and Pagani as much as possible, rather than trying to compete with off-the peg brands such as Jaguar.

A SUV might make commercial sense in the short term, but nothing for brand positioning and premium equity in the long run.

Wayne Marlow

28 October 2013

It worries me that there is a vision to keep flogging the V12 for another ten years. I am an Aston fan, and customer, but the latest Vanquish is massively outgunned by rivals (read Ferrari, Bentley etc), and I'm not sure just how much more development can take place on what is, already, a pretty aged engine.

If the AMG tie-up is primarily about engines, I don't understand how the twin-turbo V8 would sit comfortably alongside the V12, as the power outputs are pretty much identical, whilst economy is considerably better in the Merc V8.

The other major issue for me with the current Aston lineup is the gearboxes. Again, they are way behind those in their major competitors' cars - just look at the system in the new V12 Vantage S, and compare with the Ferrari double clutch 'box.

I really hope that Aston survives and prospers, but totally agree with Speedraser that an Aston badge has to be affixed to something far more bespoke than a cosmetically modified Benz.

28 October 2013

What makes an Aston Martin? Is it the engine, the chassis, or the interior? Is it the bits you can see or the bits you can't?

It's hard to define, but knowing that behind a button on the dash is the same switch as on a Ford does that make the car any less than an Aston Martin? Even the engine isn't made by Aston Martin, but is unique to Aston Martin. Is that enough?

What you can't argue with is that Aston Martin is a small company and needs access to technology that it simply can't afford to develop itself. If that means access to a highly developed chassis from Merc and then it's building an Aston Martin around that component then surely that can't be bad? Taking advantage of Merc's experience, but still producing an Aston.

Bez can see this as a route to future products. Look at the sharing that's done with Audi / VW / Seat / Skoda and Bentley. Let's not be too snobby if Aston needs a hand from a big brother.

28 October 2013
Symanski wrote:

What makes an Aston Martin? Is it the engine, the chassis, or the interior? Is it the bits you can see or the bits you can't?

It's hard to define, but knowing that behind a button on the dash is the same switch as on a Ford does that make the car any less than an Aston Martin? Even the engine isn't made by Aston Martin, but is unique to Aston Martin. Is that enough?

I'd say defining an Aston Martin is easier than you suggest Symanski. An Aston has, is, and always will be defined by its styling. Examples of when Aston Martin have chosen to ignore this, ie Cygnet, haven't ended well. It's also why building an Aston Martin branded SUV is plainly wrong. It's clearly impossible to incorporate AM styling cues onto an SUV and make it look right. Just look at the trouble Porsche had with their Cayenne, so imagine the task Aston would face. Honestly Aston, don't even go there. I wouldn't say a V12 is essential for Aston Martin's success either, but a good looking exterior and luxurious cabin most certainly are.

28 October 2013

...they'll turbocharge or supercharge the V12? That would help performance and potentially emissions, too, with a little tweaking. I can understand the allure of a 12 cylinder vee engine, as it's an incredibly well-balanced, smooth set-up. The inherent refinement of a V12 might work well for Aston's touring models, and the forced-induction V8 for their sportier offerings?

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