High­light­ing the mar­que’s re­turn to win­ning ways

Top Gear (Philippines) - - New Metal - WORDS BY FERMAN LAO

The year 2017 marks the 10th an­niver­sary of As­ton Martin’s re­turn, af­ter al­most 50 years, to the top step of the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans GT1 class, with the DBR9. And just two months ago, the As­ton Martin Van­tage won the GTE class at this year’s stag­ing of the fa­mous en­durance event. That’s more like it for a car­maker whose ori­gin can be traced back to rac­ing—in fact, its moniker comes from the names of founder Lionel Martin and a hill climb he com­peted in, the As­ton Clin­ton. The credo “Race on Sun­day, sell on Mon­day” cer­tainly fits the mar­que to a T.

The mem­o­rable sur­prise is that As­ton Martin Rac­ing won at Le Mans just days af­ter the un­veil­ing of the AMR brand at the Geneva Mo­tor Show. One of the first mod­els to ben­e­fit from the mo­tor­sport-de­rived badg­ing? The As­ton Martin Van­tage AMR. How serendip­i­tous is that?

Shown as a con­cept car at the 2003 North Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional Auto Show, the Van­tage was un­veiled in pro­duc­tion form at Geneva in 2005, as a 2006 model. It fea­tured bonded alu­minum body con­struc­tion, mak­ing the two-door, two-seat Grand Tourer one of of As­ton Martin’s light­est mod­els. Two en­gine choices were avail­able: a 380hp V8, and a 510hp V12 that fol­lowed shortly af­ter. Over time, the V8 grew in dis­place­ment from 4.3 liters to 4.7 liters, and so did the power out­put.

The Van­tage AMR comes in both V8 and V12 op­tions. The for­mer now has a healthy 430hp and 490Nm, while the lat­ter has an as­tound­ing 595hp and 630Nm. Both vari­ants can be had with pad­dle-shifter-ac­ti­vated se­quen­tial trans­mis­sions, or a six-speed man­ual for the V8 and a dog-leg seven-speed man­ual for the V12. Both road­ster and coupe body styles are avail­able, with to­tal pro­duc­tion be­ing lim­ited to only 300 units. Nil to 100kph is 4.8sec for the V8 and 3.7sec for the V12.

Of note is the rear-mounted transaxle that en­dows the Van­tage with a 49/51 weight dis­tri­bu­tion. A car­bon-fiber pro­pel­ler shaft sur­rounded by an al­loy torque tube is com­mon to the two vari­ants, to in­crease rigid­ity. Both the V8 and the V12 are also equipped with lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tials. Fi­nal-drive ra­tios are dif­fer­ent, though: 3.909:1 for the V8 and a slightly taller 3.727:1 for the V12. The range ben­e­fits from in­de­pen­dent dou­ble-wish­bone sport sus­pen­sions front and rear; the V12 gets a three-stage Adap­tive Damp­ing Sus­pen­sion with Nor­mal, Sport, and Track modes. Think of it as mood rings, but for cars.

Op­tions in­clude a multi-piece car­bon-fiber aero kit based on the rac­ing mod­els. The ad­dons are fully func­tional, right down to the rear spoiler, the dive plates, and the dif­fusers. Per­haps the last word in ac­ces­sories would have to be the Ti­ta­nium ex­haust sys­tem. It saves 6.3kg, and is de­scribed as the best­sound­ing ex­haust one can lis­ten to.

Wheels are 19in across for both vari­ants (the V12 get half an inch more in width) and are shod with Pirelli P Zero rub­ber. An­other in­ter­est­ing op­tion is the AMR Halo Pack,

which pays homage to the #95 Van­tage GTE that won the 2016 World En­durance Championship. The most eye-catch­ing among the col­ors is the trade­mark Stir­ling Green with lime brake calipers—it evokes the spirit of Bri­tish rac­ing tra­di­tion in a way no other liv­ery can. The Van­tage AMR’s in­te­rior is just as Bri­tish, with its com­bi­na­tion of black Al­can­tara and leather, matched with Cop­per-Tan Metal­lic con­trast­ing high­lights. Other AMR add-ons in­clude light­weight car­bon-fiber seats and trim pieces. In­stead of the usual door han­dle/arm­rest combo, the car may be spec’d with min­i­mal­ist door pulls, too. The 720gsm car­pet with ac­cent­ing leather bind­ing is also a must-have—while noth­ing fancy, it just works well with the AMR Halo Pack. In-car en­ter­tain­ment is cov­ered by a 7,000-watt pre­mium au­dio sys­tem with Blue­tooth in­te­gra­tion, Ap­ple CarPlay com­pat­i­bil­ity, and USB con­nec­tiv­ity. This car may be track-in­spired, but it need not be spar­tan.

Per­haps one com­pelling rea­son to opt for Stir­ling Green scheme is the unique un­der-hood badge that bears the sig­na­tures of Marek Re­ich­man and David King, two of the car­maker’s top per­son­nel. Other vis­ual mod­i­fi­ca­tions, apart from the lime Brembo calipers, are car­bon-fiber side mir­rors and a car­bon-fiber front grille sur­round for the V8 (stan­dard on the V12). It’s si­mul­ta­ne­ously sub­tle and out there—def­i­nitely Bri­tish, and def­i­nitely As­ton Martin.

‘Race on Sun­day, sell on Mon­day surely fits the brand to a T’

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