17 March 2004

Aston Martin will improve its £163,000 flagship model with a power hike and new interior later this year. The revamp will freshen the 2+2 and stimulate interest in the Vanquish in the wake of the excellent new DB9.

Aston is targeting a power hike of 10 per cent for the 460bhp 5.9-litre V12 – taking peak power to around 510bhp, possibly enough to drag the 0-60mph time down to 4.0sec and nudge the top speed beyond 200mph. The original Autocar road test back in 2001 rated the Vanquish’s top speed at 196mph.

‘It’s no good doing something like a three per cent hike, it has to be a more substantial increase,’ said Aston boss Uli Bez.

Aston is also going to uprate the braking system and add chassis improvements to boost the handling dynamics.Dealers have already approached customers around the UK to assess the likely demand for an improved Vanquish and have mentioned a power hike to ‘between 510 and 530bhp’.

Aston tested the feasibility of fitting the DB9’s centre console into the Vanquish with the Bertone Jet 2 concept (pictured right) shown at Geneva last week. It fitted beautifully and is a marked improvement on the current Vanquish’s pared-down fascia, created in an era when cash was much tighter.

Aston boss Bez has also confirmed that the revival of the Lagonda name is a strong possibility. ‘We will consider reviving the Lagonda brand in the longer term, say three to four years,’ he told Autocar. ‘I must stress that there is no plan, no work and no design going on, but we must consider it. I thought of badging the Jet 2 as a Lagonda, but in the end decided against it.’

If the Lagonda badge had been applied to the Jet 2 concept car, a different grille and graphics would have been grafted onto the concept to distinguish it from an Aston Martin, Bez said.

Meanwhile, the finished Bertone Jet 2 Vanquish-based four-seat sports estate could, in fact, end up in production, after a positive reception at this month’s Geneva Motor Show. Bez told us: ‘The Jet shows that after the DB9 and Vantage V8 launch there is still the possibility of another future for Aston Martin. We must decide what it means to Aston Martin to stretch the proportions, see if we can lift this idea into our regular programme. But we are in no hurry to do anything.’

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