Valkyrie re­veals more of its se­crets

DE­VEL­OP­MENT BUCK GIVES BUY­ERS FIRST CHANCE TO GET BE­HIND WHEEL OF NEWEY HY­PER­CAR

VANTAGE - - Bulletin | News - WORDS RICHARD MEADEN

WE STILL DON’T KNOW much about the nuts and bolts, but As­ton Martin has shared some tan­ta­lis­ing new im­ages of the Valkyrie hy­per­car. The shots are of the lat­est de­vel­op­ment buck, which fea­tures open­ing doors and a full in­te­rior mock-up. Though not the fin­ished item, it’s said to be 95 per cent there, at least so far as the ex­te­rior styling is con­cerned.

As ex­pected, the un­com­pro­mis­ing ge­nius of Red Bull’s Adrian Newey is ev­i­dent in the rad­i­cal sculpt­ing of the Valkyrie’s un­der­body aero­dy­nam­ics. Never has any­one at­tempted to chan­nel air so ag­gres­sively or har­ness it so com­pletely in a road car ap­pli­ca­tion. Con­se­quently, the up­per sur­faces of the Valkyrie re­main bliss­fully free from clut­ter.

The cock­pit sits be­tween two enor­mous ven­turis feed­ing the rear dif­fuser. It’s hard to be­lieve it will ac­com­mo­date two 98 per­centile adult males, but hav­ing sat in the buck our­selves – and spo­ken to cus­tomers who have done the same – we can con­firm that the claims are true.

To max­imise space, the seats are mounted di­rectly to the tub, with the steer­ing wheel and ped­als ad­justable. You sit in a re­clined, F1-style driv­ing po­si­tion, which is a lot more com­fort­able than it sounds: once you’ve spent a few min­utes in the car, even the raised po­si­tion of your legs and feet feels en­tirely nat­u­ral.

The dash­board is de­void of in­stru­ments. In­stead, vi­tal signs are dis­played via an OLED screen on the steer­ing wheel. All the con­trols are wheel-mounted, too, while the wheel it­self is de­tach­able to ease ingress and egress. With a roof-mounted air in­take for the en­gine and no rear win­dow, there’s no re­quire­ment for an in­ter­nal rear-view mir­ror. No door or wing mir­rors ei­ther. In­stead a pair of cam­eras feeds a rear­ward view to dis­plays mounted at the foot of each A-pil­lar.

Ac­cord­ing to Matt Hill, As­ton Martin’s cre­ative di­rec­tor of in­te­ri­ors, the Valkyrie’s cock­pit re­quired a re­think on pack­ag­ing: ‘It’s been a tre­men­dous chal­lenge to make it work. We’ve em­braced Red Bull’s F1 ethos and ap­proached from a dif­fer­ent an­gle than con­ven­tional road car de­sign. So you start from a po­si­tion where you think some­thing is im­pos­si­ble and work at it un­til you find a way to make it work. We’ve been fight­ing for mil­lime­tres ev­ery­where. It’s been fan­tas­tic see­ing cus­tomers try the in­te­rior buck for size. They love the ri­tual of get­ting in and how it feels to be sat be­hind the wheel. They’re also gen­uinely sur­prised at how the car just seems to swal­low them.’

Be­ing an As­ton, the ex­tra­or­di­nary aero, painstak­ing pack­ag­ing and war on weight don’t come at the ex­pense of some de­light­ful de­tails. Among them are the head­lights, which have been stripped back to the bare es­sen­tials. In­stead of hid­ing com­po­nents be­hind cladding, the lowand high-beam el­e­ments are at­tached to an ex­quis­ite ex­posed an­odised alu­minium frame. The re­sult is a piece of art that also hap­pens to be 30-40 per cent lighter than the light­est se­ries-pro­duc­tion head­lights avail­able to As­ton Martin.

Then there’s the Valkyrie’s ‘wings’ badge. With the reg­u­lar enamel item con­sid­ered both too heavy and aero­dy­nam­i­cally com­pro­mised, the As­ton de­sign team de­vel­oped a chem­i­cal-etched alu­minium badge just 70 mi­crons thick. That’s 30 per cent thin­ner than a hu­man hair. Nick­named the ‘lacewing’, it is at­tached to the painted body and cov­ered with a per­fectly smooth coat of lac­quer. If that’s the ef­fort ex­pended on some­thing as ap­par­ently in­con­se­quen­tial as a badge, imag­ine how ex­tra­or­di­nary the fin­ished car will be.

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY AS­TON MARTIN

Left and above Ex­te­rior styling is said to be 95 per cent com­plete; cock­pit is at an ear­lier stage of de­vel­op­ment, but the de­sign team have al­ready worked a mi­nor mir­a­cle on the pack­ag­ing

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