Aston Martin unveiled the production version of its eagerly awaited V8 Vantage at the 2005 Geneva International Motor Show on Tuesday.
First shown as a concept car at the 2003 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the two seater V8 Vantage allows Aston Martin to enter a new sector of the premium sports car market with a genuine alternative to other cars that are currently on offer.
It will be built at Aston Martin’s Headquarters at Gaydon, Warwickshire, UK, and completes the current Aston Martin line-up which comprises the flagship Vanquish S, the DB9 and the V8 Vantage.
Offered with a combination of different leathers, contemporary fabrics and aluminium, V8 Vantage customers will have an extensive choice of standard body and trim colours from which to choose. The interior dials are made from aluminium, and together with the switchgear have a distinct design and unique Aston Martin look and feel.
The V8 Vantage is the second model to use Aston Martin’s VH (Vertical Horizontal) architecture. Constructed from lightweight aluminium extrusions, precision castings and pressings, the underframe is bonded with aerospace adhesives and mechanically fixed with self-piercing rivets. Certain complex parts of the frame are precision die cast in aluminium; the door inner panels are cast magnesium and the windscreen surround is a one piece aluminium casting. The frame is bonded with cold-cure adhesive helping to soak up the vibrations which may otherwise appear if the structure was welded.
Aston Martin claim that the architecture provides an excellent backbone, for the use of “sophisticated materials” such as lightweight alloys, magnesium and advanced composites for the body, which further contributes to the car’s low weight and class-leading rigidity. The V8 Vantage also uses a combination of aluminium, steel and composites for the exterior panels.
Aston Martin’s engineers have worked with Ford Research and Nottingham University to develop RTM (Resin Transfer Moulding) composite panels, using unique processes and materials, resulting in composite panels and improved surface finish. The process ensures that the optimum amount of reinforcement material is used in each area of the panel to ensure optimum strength and weight.
The V8 Vantage is very much a pure sports car, so from the outset, the priority of Aston Martin’s engineers was to focus on a lightweight, compact size, agility and power. At just 4.38 metres long it is compact and is the smallest model in the Aston Martin range.
The layout of the powertrain adopts a transaxle configuration, whereby the front mid-mounted engine is connected to the transmission – at the rear of the car – via a cast aluminium torque tube and carbon fibre prop-shaft. This configuration provides the car with a 49:51 weight distribution, giving outstanding handling characteristics and excellent all round capabilities.
The all new 380 bhp engine is a 4.3 litre, low emissions all aluminium alloy V8, unique to Aston Martin. Maximum power is 380bhp @ 7000rpm and maximum torque 302lb ft @ 5000rpm.
“The V8 engine is unique to Aston Martin,“ said Jeremy Main. “We share expertise within the PAG organisation but this design is totally new and not a shared engine. Every significant part of it is unique from the specification of the cylinder block to the cylinder heads, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, lubrication system and engine management.”
The V8 Vantage will be initially offered with a 6-speed manual transmission and other alternatives will be announced at a later date. A great deal of time and effort has been spent ensuring that the new transmission has a smooth and fast shift action to ensure its ultra close ratios can be used to maximum effect.
“”It is one of the best manual gear changes in the world,”” added Jeremy Main. “”Driving enjoyment is a very important quality of the V8 Vantage and part of this is a superb gear change action.””
Deliveries of the V8 Vantage to customers in the UK and Europe will begin in late summer and in North America and the rest of the world by the end of the year.
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