Currently reading: Aston Martin boss: how the Valhalla concept got to production
CEO Tobias Moers explains why Aston's new supercar now uses a V8 and costs £300,000 less
Steve Cropley Autocar
News
3 mins read
15 July 2021

The newly revealed Aston Martin Valhalla represents a seismic shift for its maker. When it enters production in 2023, it will give the Gaydon firm a direct rival to the likes of the Ferrari SF90, with 937bhp from a plug-in hybrid V8 - but the final product has come a long way from the initial concept teased at the 2019 Geneva motor show.

We caught up with the man responsible for pushing through many of the changes that transformed the Valhalla from concept to reality, new company CEO Tobias Moers, at the car's unveiling.

You’ve made big changes to new Astons since you arrived less than a year ago. What did you do to the Valhalla?

"We’ve kept the spirit of the 2019 concept but changed everything under the skin. The engine is now a V8, and that change has meant we needed to modify the mechanical layout as a result. We chose the AMG V8 – an engine I’m pretty familiar with [Moers was AMG's CEO before his move to Aston] – because it’s versatile, and a known quantity. We’d rather invest in electrification than an all-new ICE engine."

In the beginning, we were told the Valhalla would cost £1 million. Now you say it’s less. What’s happened?

"We believe there’s a sweet spot in the market – where supercar meets hypercar, if you like – for a car priced between £600,000 and £700,000. At that price, we believe we can make around 1000 cars over two years, starting in the fourth quarter of 2023."

The Valhalla is hugely fast. That 6min 30sec Nürburgring Nordschleife target you’ve set looks tough. Are you trying to start a new power race with supercar competitors like McLaren?

"Sure, it is very fast and powerful, but I’ve never been interested in any pure power race. These days, the mark of a good car is the way it deploys its performance. Back in the day, the mark of excellence was lowest drag or peak torque. Now the task is to make very fast cars as predictable and drivable as possible. I’ve come to appreciate that. It has been part of my journey."

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Can a car that delivers a record lap at the ’Ring still be okay to drive on the road?

"Sure, it’s definitely doable. The Valhalla may not ever be the easiest day-to-day car we make – for a start, it has fixed seats and movable pedals, a racer’s solution – but we’re well aware that buyers today expect a good level of capability, and we’re quite sure that can be delivered along with the performance and track ability."

Since your arrival, Aston has concentrated mostly on SUVs and mid-engined cars. Does this indicate that traditional Aston GTs are moving out of favour?

"Not at all. I’m very aware of my responsibilities to the traditional Aston Martin buyer. In fact, I've never met a more important or loyal customer body. But everyone has to recognise that a progressive brand like ours changes over time, so what you’ll soon see is a new level of GT cars. They will be breathtaking, and they will appeal to a broad range of buyers, not just our existing loyal customers but new arrivals as well."

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Speedraser 19 July 2021

Blah, it's hard to believe that people still perpetuate the myth that the V12 is two V6s stuck together. That's utterly false. Yes, it was based on Duratec architecture, but it was developed, engineered and, yes, built, as a purpose-built V12. The 2-stuck-together-story is flatly incorrect. Please stop spreading that lie.

Since I folllowed the development of the new V6 closely, including watching and listening to the video of it running on the test bench, and spoke with my dealer about it, I'm going to stick with it-was-nearly-finished. "Almost finished" vs "a long way along its development" could be argues forever. A running engine on a test bench is, at the very least, a very long way down the development road. Moers' comment that it "didn't exist" is demonstrably untrue. He's an AMG guy, and he clearly always will be. He should go back there. 

You also say Aston hasn't built its own engines in house for many years. Also not true. Aston Martin built its own 4.3 and 4.7L V8 engines, as well as the 5.9L V12 at its own facility - located within Ford's Cologne facility - since it opened in 2004. Aston still builds the current V12 there. Before you tell me that it's really a Ford plant, the Aston Martin Engine Plant is in its own Aston-only building, staffed only by Aston Martin employees, at that Cologne facility. Each engine is assembled by a single Aston technician. No one from Ford works in the AMEP. And no non-Aston ever used the V8 or V12 engines. Yes, I know that the 4.3/4.7 V8 was "based on" the Jag V8. Aston's V8 was comprehensively re-engineered and has its own, bespoke block, crank, bearings, conrods, pistons, rings, heads, cams, valves, etc. I shares essentially nothing with the Jaguar engine. To me, the V8 and the V12 are Aston engines. 

So no, obviously your comment doesn't change my definition of what an Aston is.

By the way, Callum/Fisker over Reichmann every single time, and by an enormous margin.

Blahblahblah 17 July 2021

@Symanski - You are consistent, in your opinion of Marek Reichman, I'll give you that. He has clearly hurt you in the past. Let it go, he's a talented designer, and no matter how many times you say it he isn't going to be sacked.

@Speedraser - "Aston's new V6 was nearly finished" - no it wasn't. Whilst we are on the topic of Aston engines, I hate to tell you, but the V12 you are talking about is currently two Ford Mondeo V6 engines lovingly slapped together. Does that change your opinion on what is or isn't an Aston? Aston Martin haven't built their own engines in house for many many years.

Speedraser 16 July 2021

Symanksi, I agree. I'll repost my post from the other Valhalla article. If they're going to go mid-engined (which I think is a mistake), then it has to be a real Aston Martin, done right. This statement shows that it isn't: "Notably, the Valhalla – unlike the 2019 concept – is not powered by a bespoke, Aston Martin-developed V6 as was originally planned. Development of that 3.0-litre motor, which was set to exceed the 715bhp output of even the DBS Superleggera's V12, was axed soon after Moers took over because, he said, it would not have been Euro 7 compliant and "would have taken another huge investment that was really too big to bring to life". 

Let's be honest -- Aston's new V6 was nearly finished, and would have been the crucial move away from the bought-in off-the-shelf AMG V8. The excuse thatthe newly designed V6 couldn't be emissions-compliant is an outright lie. Shameful. It's simply cheaper and easier for AMG-man Moers to use Benz bits, as he has admitted many times. It's an appalling excuse to try to justify his belief that an "Aston Martin" can be a Mercedes under the skin. As an Aston owner, to me, an "Aston Martin" with an AMG engine - or any non-Aston engine - is NOT, and cannot ever be, an Aston Martin. The same is, of course, true for the current AMG-engined models. Of the current models, only the DB11 AMR and the DBS - powered by Aston's V12 - are Aston Martins. Can anyone imagine that SF90 with an AMG engine??? Or any Ferrari? Of course not, the idea is utterly preposterous. It's just as absurd for an Aston. Moers is killing Aston Martin, not saving it.

I'll add this. Moers is quoted in another publication stating that the new Aston V6 engine didn't actually exist. Really??? What, then, is the new V6 engine that is shown on video running on the test bench last year? Yes, it's this non-existent Aston V6 engine. Moers is a liar, and he's destroying Aston Martin.