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Bristling: The road-going DBR9.

Road version of DBR9 one of several future model variants for Aston Martin

7 Nov 2005

ASTON Martin will consolidate its growth with developments of its current three-car range as it edges towards a target of 6500 annual sales.

The Ford-owned, British-based company now has three models spanning a range from $235,000 for new V8 Vantage to $575,000 for the V12 Vanquish, with the $338,000 DB9 in between.

On the horizon is a lighter, faster variation of the V8 Vantage which would compete with the Porsche 911 GT3.

"We are not at the end of the line with the V8," Aston Martin chairman Ulrich Bez told GoAuto. "It will be a GT3 racing car based on the V8 Vantage for road use." There will also be a road-going version of the DBR9 racer, which should be the fastest Aston Martin in history, while a replacement for the Vanquish is still at least three to four years away.

There is still no firm decision on a Vanquish replacement. However, Dr Bez hinted strongly that if or when this happened it would be based on the DB9’s "VH" platform, which also underpins the V8 Vantage.

"We do not intend to make a second platform ... we are not big enough," he said. "So all our (future) products will be based around the VH platform.

"But the potential is there to make a bigger car, a stronger car out of this (platform) like a Vanquish out of this." This strategy rules out an entry-level six-cylinder roadster rival for the Porsche Boxster from Aston Martin, as the VH platform cannot be feasibly shortened further.

The company will continue to remain committed to the controversial automated manual gearbox, which will be overhauled along with the next-generation car.

Dr Bez admitted that no conventional automatic would fit in the DB9 or V8 Vantage because there was not enough room behind the driver’s seat for an off-the-shelf torque converter.

He also said developing a new gearbox with a smaller one was not "economically feasible" considering only around 1000 would be sold.

"I think the DB9’s (automated manual) gearbox is the best transmission in the world," he said. "I never wanted a (conventional) manual in the past." Having said that, Dr Bez’s colleagues – including director of sales and marketing, Bill Donnelly – convinced him it was the United States market and not Europe that needed a manual gearbox so Aston Martin buyers could "demonstrate their driving abilities".

Now it makes up 10 to 15 per cent of all sales there. However, Dr Bez does hope to see something like a twin-clutch gearbox in the future, although such a move would necessitate the development of a completely new transmission.

On the subject of a proper four-door sports/luxury car, Dr Bez would not reveal anything other than its possibility. However, he did say that resurrecting the Lagonda name for a super-luxury sedan was out of the question.

"It is literally unknown to the public," he said. "Maybe three people in Australia, 10 people in America and 50 people in England know the name." He pointed to the billion-plus dollars DaimlerChrysler has had to spend on the similarly obscure Maybach moniker.

"We do not have that kind of money," he said, adding that his main priority was for Aston Martin to make a profit.

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