Spy shots have revealed what appears to be a more aggressively styled V12 Vantage S being tested at the Nürburgring, correlating with Aston Martin's previously announced plans to make an extreme GT3 version.
Evident in the pictures are heavily flared arches, suggesting a wider track, and a simple mesh grille that would improve airflow into the engine bay and cooling packs – although this may simply be a feature of this prototype model.
Sources have confirmed that this is not a prototype of a next-generation Aston Martin, or a test mule with a Mercedes-AMG powerplant.
For the GT3, Aston Martin envisages a focus on reducing weight before increasing power, according to engineering boss Ian Minards, who last year told Autocar: “It would be relatively easy to lose 100kg from the current car. That much could be saved by removing the air conditioning, simplifying the interior and fitting lightweight seats.”
Further weight reduction would involve expensive additions such as lightweight magnesium wheels and carbonfibre body panels.
The design focus would be on producing a lightweight, high-downforce car based on lessons learned over years of competing with the Vantage in the SP8 category of the Nürburgring 24 Hours race.
Considerable development potential is believed to remain in the 565bhp 5.9-litre V12 motor. Even a modest power hike to 600bhp and the mooted 100kg weight reduction would boost the power-to-weight ratio from 339bhp per tonne at present to 383bhp per tonne, far beyond the reach of the Porsche 911 GT3 and placing it on a par with the Ferrari 458.
This would be sufficient to knock a couple of tenths off the current car’s 0-60mph time of 3.7sec, a time that could be reduced further still by using the launch control system already available on the Vanquish.
Its top speed would likely fall from its current 205mph though, as a result of both shorter gearing and the drag of high-downforce bodywork, including a large rear wing.
The Aston Martin V12 Vantage S GT3 is expected to make its debut next year.
Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below: