A new Aston Martin DB9 will kick off the brand's rebirth when it launches in 2016, bringing with it a new aluminium architecture and supported by a new range of Mercedes-AMG engines

Aston Martin is planning what it calls the "biggest product offensive" in its history as it looks to reinvent itself as a supercar manufacturer fit to take on Ferrari. The transformation will come about thanks to new technology and a fresh design language.

The new model range promises to herald an updated design language under Aston’s long-term design boss, Marek Reichman. Insiders say that in response to criticism of today’s line-up, the new models will be significantly differentiated from each other, putting them more in line with the clearly defined and executed models 
in Ferrari’s range. 

It is understood that work is well under way on the first new model, a new DB9, which will be powered by a Mercedes-AMG engine built specifically for the British company. The car is expected to make its debut in the second half of 2016, although it might not go on sale until early 2017.

The new DB9 will be the foundation stone of Aston’s new beginning. It will be followed by a replacement for the V8 and V12 Vantage models and then the Vanquish

There’s no clear news yet on whether the four-door Rapide will be replaced directly, although that model is likely to be phased out after Aston Martin switches over to its new vehicle architecture in 2016.

Even so, Aston sources say they are confident that the sales boost from the new DB9, and the V8 and V12 Vantages following close behind, will push Aston into profit. That would be a turnaround on last year’s results, which saw the company pushed into the red.

However, this is something of a high-risk strategy for the tiny company. Aston Martin has borrowed heavily for its big product push, and that is expected to stress the company’s finances over the next two years, especially as it pays interest on its loans. At the beginning of May, credit rating agency Standard and Poors cut Aston’s credit rating to five notches below investment grade. 

Read Autocar's review of the Aston Martin DB9

At the moment, the much-discussed SUV remains on Aston’s wish list rather than in the product plan. The company’s new injection of investment money has been earmarked for the reinvention of the sports car family. 

The next-generation VH architecture, which is currently being engineered, is said to have been created by Lotus Engineering when Aston was under Ford ownership. It is based on the same principles as the current VH platform 
but is being completely reworked to accommodate Mercedes’ engines and technology. Aston’s current V8 and V12 engines are built by Ford under contract at its Cologne plant. This deal ends in 2016, just as the new AMG engines come on stream.

The VH structure, which is claimed to be especially light and stiff, is made up of fairly small-scale components made from either stamped, cast or extruded aluminium. This approach is cost-effective because tooling costs are kept low and is ideally suited to small-scale production (Aston sold just 4200 cars last year).

Components such as the front suspension strut towers are made from cast aluminium, while the windscreen surround is made from pressed and formed aluminium. These can then be shared across the various models. The floor and centre tunnel construction is also common across today’s sports car models.

The new-generation VH architecture will use the same principle but will be more of a clean-sheet design able to accommodate a more diverse range of body styles and styling. While today’s Astons are hampered by having to share a core structure, which results in a similar appearance, the new VH construction is likely to be much more flexible.

The front and rear crash structures will be common, as will the main floor structure. It is understood that the new architecture will be able to offer two track widths and two wheelbases, along with a new rear bulkhead design that can be switched between the demands of saloon, cabrio and liftback body styles, while the mounting height of the windscreen surround is expected to be adjustable. Aston’s engineers will also have to give thought to accommodating a battery 
pack on certain models.

Read Autocar's Aston Martin V8 Vantage review

As well as developing this new VH architecture, Aston is currently working on integrating an electrical architecture supplied by Mercedes. This is not only to allow the use of AMG engines and transmissions, but is also the key to future Aston models being able to feature the latest in-car multimedia systems and electronic driver aids.

It would be difficult, although not impossible, for Aston to incorporate technology such as stereo cameras in the windscreen (for future intelligent traffic management) or stop-start technology into the current VH set-up, but direct integration of Mercedes’ technology into the new VH architecture will be hugely beneficial. Indeed, Daimler, Mercedes’ parent company, said it was going to spend a massive £8.8 billion on research and development across 2013 and 2014.

That Aston’s future models will be able to tap into much of Mercedes’ parts bin is a huge step forward for the company. Components such as braking systems, already thoroughly tested by Mercedes’ own engineers, are a perfect starting point for Aston.

The core of the technical co-operation is, of course, the supply of engines from the AMG division. The core Aston powerplant will become a version of AMG’s upcoming twin-turbocharged V8, its 4.0-litre capacity crucial to tapping into lower tax brackets in markets including China. Autocar understands that a V12 engine, based on AMG’s twin-turbo 6.0-litre unit, will also live on in Aston’s future range, although possibly without forced induction.

Further down the line, expect to see a petrol-electric hybrid Aston Martin featuring an electric motor incorporated into the transmission. Manufacturers expect a number of global cities to adopt zero-emissions zones by the end of the decade, so a hybrid model is an essential part of the new-generation Aston Martin line-up.

When are Aston Martin's new models arriving?

2017 - new DB9

Likely to be seen in 2016, the new DB9 will kick-start Aston’s reinvention with a new look, platform and engines.

2018 - Vantage

Vantage replacement will use a shorter version of the new architecture and will again be offered with a choice of V8 and V12 engines. 

2019 - Vanquish

Flagship Vanquish to crown revamped Aston range by the end of the decade. Expect Mercedes-sourced V12 power.

2020 - Rapide (TBC) 

A Rapide replacement is not understood to be on the cards at present, but Aston could resurrect it once its new range is established.

2021 - Lagonda SUV (TBC)

The Lagonda SUV is not in the Aston model plan, and would only appear if its R&D could be funded by a successful relaunch of the rest of the range.

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Aston Martin DB9

The Aston Martin DB9 matches the emotion of a Ferrari but it adds practicality and offers an experience unmatched for versatility and all-round appeal

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Comments
16

16 June 2014
I can see Mercedes eventually buying Aston Martin. It would be very beneficial to both companies. Mercedes could showcase their latest technologies via the coolest car brand on the planet. It could distribute/service them through its extensive dealer network. And it would guarantee Aston Martins future.

16 June 2014
You'd never guess that's an Aston Martin..? Looks like all the other models they produce...!

16 June 2014
No mention of the Cygnet in the new model line-up. That's worrying!

 

 

 

16 June 2014
Can only hope that this concept makes it,can't we?

Peter Cavellini.

16 June 2014
While a partner as big as Mercedes sounds good on paper, it is not the life-raft Aston desperately needs and I am quite sceptical.........Merc is very focussed on AMG and will not allow any distractions. Reviving Aston, creating new models, investing in the brand......all these are not things Merc will spend their energy or resources on.......Merc is quite ruthless as a parent company as history has repeatedly proven......Chrysler, SangYong, Mitsubishi, Maybach!!!..........The only reason AMG has associated itself is because Aston's present bosses paid a chunky bribe to convince them to sell engines/elect. architecture. A 5% share in Aston Martin and an asking price for every engine/component they sell, Merc looses very little.........Both owners in Aston are looking at short term gains than long term security.........the kuwaiti firm is hit by mounting losses.........one wont hold their breath on Investindustrial as well.............Also there is the big question how will Aston survive the interim 2 year period before the 'new' models are launched?!

16 June 2014
Mercedes would be a good fit for Aston. They must have looked on with envy when BMW poached Mini and Rolls and VW Bentley. Now they have an opportunity to grab one of the most famous brands in the world, which rivals Ferrari for prestige and presence . Try as they might with AMG , the public just perceive it as the equivalent of the M Division at BMW. Yes it will cost them serious money but that's what it takes to make a stellar product like Aston to go head to head with Ferrari. With the combination of Merc and Astons R&D departments hooked in and a world class designer at the helm to style beautiful Astons ....the future should be very bright for Mr Bonds wheels!!

TBC

16 June 2014
Expect AM to push the existing models for all they're worth for the next two years, including special and limited editions. The new models will really need to shine if they are to compete. Ferrari are starting to leave them behind, and the Porsche dream of Dr. Bez seems to be fading, along with the SUV that might have been their savior. One can only hope that the new models hit the market sweet spot..........

16 June 2014
Fading behind Ferrari - Not at Le Mans they aren't. In LM GTE Pro - The Ferrari 458 Italia of Giancarlo Fisichella / G. Bruni & T. Vilander took Podium BUT the Aston Martin V8 Vantage lead the Ferrari in this category for 20/24 hrs and averaged a slightly higher speed than the Ferrari. In LM GTE Am - It was another Aston Martin V8 Vantage took 1st place on the podium again averaging a higher speed than the nearest Ferrari 458 Italia. TBC - Do you sell Ferraris?

Malo Mori Quam Foedari

16 June 2014
1) The engine "will be built specifically for the British company," says the article at the beginning. 2) The engine "will become a version of AMG’s upcoming twin-turbocharged V8," says the article near the end. WHICH IS IT??? #1 has potential, as it sounds like it could be the jointly Aston-AMG developed "bespoke-to Aston" engine that was discussed when this deal was announced, even if it's based on the AMG 4.0L. If it's sufficiently re-engineered (like the current Aston V8 engine is compared to the Jaguar V8, for example), it could be great. #2 would be an abomination, and the end of my interest in a new Aston -- merely a version of someone else's engine (regardless of who that someone is), like what Audi/Bentley has done to the Conti -- the "Bentley" engine is just a retuned version of an Audi engine. That would be completely unacceptable to this Aston owner and potential buyer of another.

16 June 2014
Speedraser wrote:
1) The engine "will be built specifically for the British company," says the article at the beginning. 2) The engine "will become a version of AMG’s upcoming twin-turbocharged V8," says the article near the end. WHICH IS IT??? #1 has potential, as it sounds like it could be the jointly Aston-AMG developed "bespoke-to Aston" engine that was discussed when this deal was announced, even if it's based on the AMG 4.0L. If it's sufficiently re-engineered (like the current Aston V8 engine is compared to the Jaguar V8, for example), it could be great. #2 would be an abomination, and the end of my interest in a new Aston -- merely a version of someone else's engine (regardless of who that someone is), like what Audi/Bentley has done to the Conti -- the "Bentley" engine is just a retuned version of an Audi engine. That would be completely unacceptable to this Aston owner and potential buyer of another.
I agree with this entirely. Aston risks being relegated to being a mere coachbuilder. The reason why Porsche and Ferrari sell so many cars is because of the respect they have garnered by producing their own engines, transmissions and chassis. Sadly this is not to be for AM, but at least their engines should be bespoke as it would reduce the risk of them ending up like the likes of AC, De Tomaso, Iso, Wiesmann and many others I do not care to mention...

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