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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

It Turns Out Aston Martin Are As Lazy As I Feared

Ceci n'est pas une Virage.
It's no secret that Aston Martin has been basing everything on the DB9 in recent years, and while that keeps those of us with eyes relatively happy, the DB9 itself is getting a little old, so an upgrade was needed. Now, Autocar reckon they had spy shots of the new DB9, which I dismissed as just being a Virage, as every single body panel except the boot lid was identical, and even that was just the lid from the now-defunct DBS. Well guess what? Aston Martin have axed the Virage, and just updated the DB9. The picture you see here contains a pair of DB9s, not a pair of Virages. This despite every single body panel except the quiff'd boot lid being millimetrically identical to the Virage. Aston Martin, what the hell are you doing?

The new DB9 uses the body of the suddenly-dead Virage, as well as engine and chassis know-how from the new Vanquish. It now produces the same 510bhp (along with 457lb/ft of twist) that the DBS made, yet goes slower than the Casino Royale star, with a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 183mph. Weirdly, despite the extra 40bhp, those are exactly the same performance figures as the outgoing DB9, minus 3mph off the top speed. But then, if it had the same performance figures as the equally-powerful DBS, then it would also have the same performance figures as the new AM310 Vanquish, which has 565bhp and is meant to sit at the top of the range (unless you include the sold-out One-77). The thing is, that the new top-shelf Vanquish has the same torque figure and the same top speed as this bottom-shelf V12 model, the new DB9. The only difference is 55bhp and 0.5s off the 0-60 time, although mercifully, the Vanquish actually looks different to this car, with a more extreme version of the same styling philosophy, Pringles in its mouth and a Lotus Evora rear spoiler.

So OK, let's get the 2012/3 range straight here:

Cygnet:
(see Toyota iQ), £30,000

V8 Vantage:
420bhp, 346lb/ft, 1640kg, 0-60: 4.7s, 180mph, £84,995

V8 Vantage S:
430bhp, 361lb/ft, 1610kg, 0-60: 4.5s, 190mph, £99,995

V12 Vantage:
510bhp, 420lb/ft, 1680kg, 0-60: 4.1, 190mph, £134,995

Rapide (four door GT):
470bhp, 443lb/ft, 1990kg, 0-60: 5.0, 183mph, £139,950

New DB9:
510bhp, 457lb/ft, 1785kg, 0-60: 4.6, 183mph, £131,995

AM310:
565bhp, 457lb/ft, 1739kg, 0-60: 4.1, 183mph, £189,995

And the outgoing models:

Old DB9:
470bhp, 443lb/ft, 1760kg, 0-60: 4.6, 186mph, £119,995

Virage:
490bhp, 420lb/ft, 1785kg, 0-60: 4.6, 186mph, £149,995

DBS:
510bhp, 420lb/ft, 1695kg, 0-60: 4.1, 191mph, £179,995

Don't the V12 cars all seem a bit... similar? It's no wonder they had to kill the 490bhp, ~£150k Virage. Except they didn't, did they? Because the new DB9 is just a Virage with a quiff on the back and more power. Needless to say, the interior is the same as before, but now includes a standard-fit reversing camera. Oh, and it has the same updated gearbox as the new Vanquish. Still, I have new respect for the old Porsche 997 range. At least the 22 different variants all made sense somehow. Aston's range of V12 cars just doesn't. I'm starting to think they're running out of money and having to desperately find a way of updating the range without spending money making anything new. I bet it won't be long until there's a Rapide S with 510bhp, 457lb/ft and the same top speed, except it'll cost £15,000 more...

Normally I wish I had won the Euro Millions so I could go car shopping, but now the One-77's sold out, I'm glad I don't have to choose an Aston Martin, because at the moment their range is just one big mindfuck (and I haven't even included the 'Volante' convertible versions of every model minus the Vanquish and Rapide, which are all marginally slower in a straight line, a little bit heavier and slightly more expensive than their Coupé brethren). I mean seriously, couldn't they do anything at all to make the new DB9 look like its own model, or is making it clear that all they've done is renamed and lightly tweaked the Virage the best way they could think to do it? I'm amazed that it has come to this, but then rehashing the same model repeatedly makes it very easy for them to not only do it, but get away with it too, because most people won't even notice. They just want an Aston Martin, and because they all look about the same, they won't be fussed that they're being conned just a little bit by what's supposedly the coolest brand in the world.

The only question remains: which is it? Are they running out of money, or are they running out of ideas? It might just be a mixture of both...

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