We visit the British car maker's new Austrian base
21 November 2009

Can an Austrian-built Aston Martin four-door ever make a fitting flagship for the unbroken, 97-year line of Aston sports cars that preceded it - every one of them designed and built in England?

In order to find out, Autocar visited Magna Steyr's factory in Graz, Austria.

Take a photo tour of the facility - which is fronted by a wide, stone-faced 'front office' facade reminiscent of the firm's much-admired Gaydon HQ - by clicking on Aston Martin Graz factory tour

During his tour, Steve Cropley encounters some of the 20 Gaydon engineers imported to Graz to ensure that Aston's quality standards are replicated in the Rapide.

Rapid project manager is also full of praise for the 220 technicians chose by Magna Steyr to build the car. "Magna already knows about building quality cars," he says.

Cropley also discovers that the Graz operation is almost a carbon copy of Gaydon, except that body assembly and final assembly are straight lines instead of U-shaps, one of the dictates of the space available.

Finally, he's given a ride in a prototype. "Could you go from London to Geneva in the back of this car?" someone asks as he steps out.

To find out his verdict and to read the full story of the factory tour, buy next week's Autocar magazine, on sale Wednesday.

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Comments
15

21 November 2009

Can it match British build standards? Is that a joke?Ladas are better built than the average British car irrespective of make or year if you take into consideration that they use hopeless materials.MG, TVR, Rover, Range Rover the original mini (the new one doesn’t count as it’s controlled by Germans) and Rolls Royce (especially poor electrical equipment in the British built ones before BMW) all have hopeless build quality. Aston Martin suffers from horrific depreciation (assuming that one of the factors contributing to depreciation is poor build quality) the likes of which the CEO of Mercedes would laugh at.The question is: can the British car industry one day match Austrian standards.

21 November 2009

[quote rollerboy]Can it match British build standards? Is that a joke?Ladas are better built than the average British car irrespective of make or year if you take into consideration that they use hopeless materials.MG, TVR, Rover, Range Rover the original mini (the new one doesn’t count as it’s controlled by Germans) and Rolls Royce (especially poor electrical equipment in the British built ones before BMW) all have hopeless build quality. Aston Martin suffers from horrific depreciation (assuming that one of the factors contributing to depreciation is poor build quality) the likes of which the CEO of Mercedes would laugh at.The question is: can the British car industry one day match Austrian standards.[/quote]

*raises an eyebrow* Ten years ago I'd have agreed wholeheartedly, but Jaguar lurk around the top of the customer satisfaction surveys with the Japanese these days. And despite former American ownership and current Indian ownership, the cars are designed and built in Britain.

Admittedly I'm not exactly an expert on Bentley, but I do know the cars are built in Crewe and generally considered (today) to be pretty damn solid.

I will grant you, however, that you don't have to look too hard to find complaints about current Land Rovers, and Aston Martin is still synonymous with horror story.

21 November 2009

And why didn't Aston insist that Magna build this factory in Britain? Ignoring the ridiculous comments about our inability to produce quality products of course. For heavens sake man, Britain invented the term!!!

21 November 2009

At least it is better looking than the Panamera. But ... will it be a better car than the Porker and in what way. It does not seem to be a nice place so sit (the back). Quite cramped, like a streched DB9 and nothing more.

21 November 2009

[quote noluddite]And why didn't Aston insist that Magna build this factory in Britain?[/quote]

It's not a new factory, it's an existing one. As if Aston Martin could afford to build a new factory - I want some of whatever you're smoking, matey. The whole point is that there's not enough capacity at Gaydon to build the Rapide in addition to the other models. Magna offered them the best deal for outsourced construction, it's that simple.

21 November 2009

Vertigo, the building may not be new, but the expensive part, i.e. the manufacturing equipment, certainly is. My point, which you have clearly failed to grasp, is that this investment could have been made in Britain, securing British jobs. I can quite understand the concept of relocating production to take advantage of lower labour costs, or to assemble in the intended market, but this has been done for neither of those reasons. The fact that Gaydon is close to capacity is neither here nor there. Any shed near to Gaydon could have served the same purpose as Magna's factory. Or is there a shortage of sheds near Gaydon? And I'm sorry to disappoint, but I have no desire to be your mate, nor to share anything with you.

21 November 2009

[quote noluddite]The fact that Gaydon is close to capacity is neither here nor there. Any shed near to Gaydon could have served the same purpose as Magna's factory. Or is there a shortage of sheds near Gaydon?[/quote]

There's certainly a shortage of sheds near Gaydon capable of churning out thousands of high-end luxury cars a year with cutting-edge equipment, a great deal of manual labour and plenty of experience for a competitive price, yes. Don't you think they'd have preferred to outsource to a British firm if it had been a decent option?

It's not like they had Magna lease an empty warehouse and build the equipment from scratch, Magna Steyr has an enormous facility in Graz and as far as we know they retooled and tarted up an existing automobile production line.

21 November 2009

Can a car built in Austria even be an Aston Martin, given the desertion of heritage and brand values involve in the decision build them there. I was actually looking for the punchline when I first saw that headline, the idea of an Austrian build Aston seemed so absurd. I would expect this decision to back-fire on them, as long time customers rethink their allegiance amidst doubts about the continued authenticity of the Aston Martin brand. This car should have been built in the UK.

22 November 2009

I'm not very keen on the idea of an Austrian-built Aston but we started it by assembling the quintessentially Austrian Pinzgauer in the UK - so they're only getting their own back.

22 November 2009

[quote allwheelsdriven]I would expect this decision to back-fire on them, as long time customers rethink their allegiance amidst doubts about the continued authenticity of the Aston Martin brand. This car should have been built in the UK.[/quote] I totally agree. I read yesterday that Spyker are now considering relocating production to the UK. If they can do it, surely Aston could have, and should have, too.

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