All the V12-engined model VH platform models will feature the raised bonnet line, which is needed to comply with the latest pedestrian protection rules. They demand more clearance above the tall V12, so the DB9 (project VH113), Virage and Rapide will feature it, too.
The Vantage family (VH200) is understood to be unaffected, largely because its dry-sump V8 is mounted lower, which leaves sufficient room above the engine.
In fact, all the V12 models, which make up about three-quarters of Aston’s 4000 annual production, will get the same underskin improvements to the VH platform.
This 2013-model-year range is vital for Aston. It has to keep Aston’s range fresh and exciting until global financial markets recover and finances can be topped up to fund a new alloy platform for the next generation of cars — codenamed VH500 (V12 cars) and VH600 (V8 cars) and known internally as the ‘alloy evolution’ models — towards the end of the decade.
With updates like this, the VH has been thoroughly re-engineered with many new parts, based on the lessons learned in the decade since the platform was first created.
The design and production have been simplified by combining multiple panels and brackets into single parts, stiffening the chassis and improving refinement.
The dynamics of the new DBS are understood to be broadly similar to those of the current car. There are detail improvements to the steering, grip and handling, partly because the new car has about 40bhp more power. The current car’s reasonable balance of ride and handling will be retained, according to sources, largely through the use of a revised version of today’s driver-adjustable adaptive dampers.
A similar degree of attention to detail has gone into the new DBS/DB9/Rapide cabin. Although the basic dashboard architecture retains its characteristic deep and curvaceous shape, the material used is of a higher quality and the details are all improved.
The Nürburgring prototype scooped by Autocar retains the existing dashboard as disguise. But insiders insist that the production model will be noticeably improved, with new switchgear, instrument binnacle, interior trim and seats, which are said to improve the driving position considerably.
Purists are unlikely to welcome the deletion of the DBS’s six-speed manual gearbox. The DBS/DB9/Rapide family is one of the few remaining supercars still to offer this option.
However, very few customers specify a manual ’box, so the new DBS will feature a ZF automatic as standard.
Initially Aston is expected to retain the existing six-speed auto, before upgrading to a latest-spec eight-speed unit
at a later date.
Aston is also beefing up the output of the venerable Cosworth-designed 6.0-litre V12, which in the DBS will be boosted up to 550bhp — the same as the mid-1990s Vantage delivered from its blown V8, and 100bhp more than the original Vanquish did in 2000.
The V12 remains naturally aspirated, so the extra power comes from improved internal components and a reprogrammed engine controller, which liberate about a seven per cent power hike on today’s 510bhp output.
Critics will say that this is insufficient to match the astonishing 730bhp Ferrari F12, but the DBS revamp is focused largely on the 3500 or so existing owners. They value the restraint of the Aston Martin brand, which means that the DBS has to be right for them more than it needs to entice Ferrari or AMG owners.