The fastest ever Aston Martin made its public bow at its new £6m Warwickshire design studio last night. Manufacturing Editor John Revill witnessed the unveiling.
It's capable of reaching 0-62mph in four seconds flat, probably a bit too fast for even James Bond.
On a busy day for the luxury carmaker, 007 had earlier confirmed he would be driving an Aston Martin DBS in the next instalment of the Bond franchise. But he's going to be in the relatively pedestrian DBS, which does 0 to 62 mph in a relatively sluggish 4.3 seconds.
Welcome to the stunning V12 Vantage RS Concept. No decision has been taken on whether the V12 Vantage RS – which could have a price tag of about £160,000 – will go into production. The outcome depends on the reaction. More than 700 Aston aficionados were at Gaydon last night to see it for themselves, in the surroundings of the new design studio.
Aston Martin chief executive Dr Ulrich Bez explained the background to the new car, which is based on Aston Martin's V8 Vantage coupe with a few tweaks to deliver extreme performance.
"Over the last five years, we have established a reputation for presenting fully functional, feasible concept cars, and the V12 Vantage RS is no exception," said Dr Bez. "We will listen with interest to feedback on this concept and, as ever, if there is sufficient demand then we will seriously consider a low volume production run in the near future with a price that will reflect the exclusivity of the car.
"With our dedicated production facilities, our own engine plant, our own unique vehicle architecture and now a dedicated design studio, we have the ideal framework to bring new models such as this to market and to further establish Aston Martin as the ultimate independent luxury sports car company."
Although the 600bhp power output of the V12 Vantage RS concept will be the focus of attention, the car has achieved its performance by stripping away excess weight.
In common with the recently launched DBS, the bonnet and trunk lid are moulded in carbon fibre and the concept also adopts motor sport-inspired carbon ceramic brake discs.
Director of Design, Marek Reichman, said: "Much of Aston Martin's recent success has come from the ability of our designers and engineers to work hand-in-hand to optimise form and function.
"Our new dedicated design centre will take this process to a new level and I am delighted that the V12 Vantage RS is the first car to stand on the turntable in the studio."
The V12 Vantage RS concept is the fastest accelerating road car ever built by the company, capable of reaching 62mph (100km/h) from rest in 4.0 seconds and 100mph (160km/h) in just 8.5 seconds.
The unveiling of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage RS concept concludes a busy year of new product announcements for the British manufacturer.
In the last 12 months it has launched the DBS and Vantage Roadster and announced details of the DB9 LM and V8 Vantage N400 special editions which celebrate the company's racing successes at Le Mans and the Nurburgring.
All of these models now join the award-winning V8 Vantage, DB9 and DB9 Volante models in production at the company's Gaydon headquarters.
The firm is now on target to sell 7,000 cars this year, its joint highest ever performance.
But the roots of future success is in the firm's design studio, which lies at the heart of Gaydon facility which employs 1,800 people. Dr Bez said: "Aston Martin is about design and it is about beauty. Yet until now it has never had its own design studio."
The modern pavilion, designed by the Weedon Partnership in collaboration with Austrian pre-fabrication specialists Holzbau Saurer, has been built using the latest construction technology and is a showcase for environmentally sustainable design.
Mr Reichman will oversee a 27 strong team of designers including clay modellers, computer modellers, interiors specialists and crafts-people.
Dr Bez added: "In the past, the most wonderful cars came from Italian design houses, bodies were even made in Italy.
"To bring these skills in house, with their own dedicated facility, places Aston Martin in a position of considerable strength."
* Meanwhile Danish high-end stereo and television maker Bang & Olufsen said it would co-operate with Aston Martin to deliver audio systems for the Warwickshire maker of luxury and performance cars.
Bang & Olufsen said the deal was expected to have a positive effect on its results in the coming years, but its shares fell as much as four per cent on disappointment the deal was not with a larger manufacturer.
The Danish firm already has a similar contract with Germany's Audi.
Jyske Bank said in a research note the total yearly sales of Aston Martins were one-third of those of Audi's top A8 model, meaning the contract would have limited economic value for Bang & Olufsen. It had hoped Bang & Olufsen would announce Mercedes-Benz as its new partner, and that shares in the Danish firm had risen over several days on expectations of a deal with a larger producer.
B&O Automotive managing director Jens Peter Zinck said the tie-up with the sports car manufacturer may boost B&O's brand and help its sales of other products.
"Bang & Olufsen and Aston Martin are two very strong brands. The added cachet from the deal could create new possibilities for radio and TV sets, for example," he said.
Aston Martin currently makes 7,000 cars a year and aims to take the figure to 9,000.
Mr Zinck added: "We feel the match between the two companies is key. We admire their long history, the British style and the James Bond imagery.
"Their core values are are power, beauty and soul, while ours are performance, passion and craftsmanship. We will work together in a strategic partnership, on a broad base in technical design, marketing and PR."