INTERNATIONAL - Aston Martin Holdings Ltd. stepped up its pursuit of Ferrari NV with the unveiling of a 211-mile-an-hour road car aimed at reinforcing the brand’s reputation for speed as well as luxury.
The DBS Superleggera will be the U.K. company’s fastest-ever standard production model, competing with Ferrari’s 812 Superfast, which shares the same top speed. Revealed in London on Tuesday, the Aston will sell for 225,000 pounds ($298,000) in the U.K.
Its latest entrant in the Super GT segment, which emphasizes high speeds and long-distance driving, is aimed at reminding customers that Aston Martin is about more than mere hand-built opulence. With the DBS tag, it’s reviving a nameplate that first appeared in 1967 and featured in two James Bond spy films. Superleggera, or super light, harks back to pioneering Italian construction methods developed to eke out the last iota of performance.
Chief Executive Officer Andy Palmer said the DBS Superleggera, built to replace the Vanquish S, will return Aston Martin to the “pinnacle of the Super GT sector” and act as a “halo” model, buoying sales across the range by emphasizing the brand’s high-speed credentials.
In a crack at Maranello, Italy-based Ferrari, he said the new auto, powered by a 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 engine, will develop 20 percent more torque -- which he likened to punching power -- than “a certain red type of car.”
Weight will be kept down and speed maximized by cladding an aluminum chassis with carbon-fiber body panels. While Ferrari rates the 812 half a second faster from 0 to 62 mph, achieved in just 2.9 seconds, Aston Martin claims the advantage from 50 to 100 mph, a key measure of overtaking ability on main roads and motorways.
Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman, who characterized the DBS as “a brute in a suit,” said designing in carbon fiber allows for more creativity than metal, with the main challenge being to ensure that a composite model still has the appearance of “visual mass.”
Reichman said in an interview at a launch event in London that the Superleggera name, while harking back to the DB4 car introduced in 1958, also turns on its head Ferrari’s choice of English names for recent models including the 812 Superfast.
As a normal production car there’ll be no cap on DBS output other than a company-wide limit of 7,000 units a year that Aston Martin imposes to maintain exclusivity. The new-generation Vantage range, a Porsche 911 rival priced from 120,000 pounds, will continue to form the group’s core offering.
Aston Martin last week revealed that it has secured access to the Stowe circuit at Silverstone race track for testing high-speed handling and chassis dynamics. Having a prestigious “reference circuit” like the home of the British Formula 1 grand prix is another means of boosting a carmaker’s standing.
The company, based in Gaydon, south of Birmingham, is preparing for a possible initial public offering this year after posting a pretax profit of 87 million pounds in 2017. Deliveries surpassed 5,000 autos for the first time since 2008, aided by the DB11 model launched in 2016.