Aston Martin is revealing details of a raft of important enhancements to two of the brand’s most popular and successful sports cars: the Vanquish ultimate GT and Rapide S four-door, four-seat, sports car.
With the arrival of 15 Model Year (15MY) cars in markets around the world over the next few months, the luxury British brand is offering not only considerably enhanced performance and much-improved fuel economy and emissions, but also an even more honed, precise and responsive driving experience.
With the debut of the new Touchtronic III eight-speed automatic gearbox in both Vanquish and Rapide S – the first time that this state-of-the-art gearbox has been incorporated into a transaxle layout – Aston Martin is improving every major area of the cars’ performance and fuel economy. The brand’s engineers have worked meticulously with technical partner, ZF, to develop the eight-speed technology and integrate it perfectly into the latest generation of the iconic and much-imitated Aston Martin VH architecture.
The 0-60 mph times for both the Vanquish and Rapide S are reduced in 15MY cars: The Vanquish drops from 4.1 seconds to just 3.6 seconds (3.8 seconds 0-100 km/h) and the Rapide S is capable of the same sprint in only 4.2 seconds (4.4 seconds 0-100 km/h) – also down by a full half second from its previous figure of 4.7 seconds. These impressive gains not only ensure the cars’ exceptional competitiveness in their respective sectors, but also confirm Vanquish as the quickest accelerating series production Aston Martin in the company’s 101-year history.
Changes to gear and final drive ratios allow the cars to be not only quicker but also more frugal, with reduced emissions too. In both sports cars the CO2 figure drops by an average of ten per cent – down to 298 g/km for Vanquish and 300 g/km for Rapide S – while economy is boosted to 31 mpg, on average an 11% improvement, on the EU’s extra urban cycle for both the Vanquish and the Rapide S under the same stringent test conditions.
Combined with a revised final drive, the ratio changes also mean both cars are, for the first time, now capable of top speeds of 200 mph or above.
A reduction in exhaust gas back pressure as a result of ratio adjustment and other changes also benefits peak power, which rises by up to three bhp to a peak of 568 bhp (576 PS) in Vanquish, and two bhp, 552 bhp (560 PS), in Rapide S. Peak torque is up by 10 Nm, too, to 630 Nm at 5,500 rpm in all the cars.
The new eight-speed Touchtronic III automatic gearbox is not only three per cent lighter than its predecessor, it is also packaged more efficiently occupying precisely the same space within the car yet adding two further ratios over the outgoing transmission.
Touchtronic III delivers exceptional shift speed and moves between ratios as quick as 130 milliseconds – far quicker than even the most accomplished racing driver is capable of – while better gearbox efficiency allows more power and torque to be transmitted to the road more of the time.
Ian Minards, Product Development Director at Aston Martin, explained: “We have a long and successful technical partnership with ZF and so it was a natural step for us to adapt and integrate their world class 8HP transmission in to our transaxle layout.”
“This has been a detailed piece of work involving careful consideration of many technical parameters including gear ratios, software integration and shifting strategies. This has delivered a significant step change in both vehicle performance and economy whilst preserving the unique Aston Martin V12 driving experience.”
Gearbox software changes make for a truly comprehensive selection of available driving features such as ‘Drive’ and ‘Drive Sport’ modes along with ‘Paddle Shift’ and ‘Paddle Shift Sport’ options for more engaging, sporting, shift control.
Optimal, multi-ratio downshifts are available by pulling and holding the down shift paddle, allowing for the car to select the lowest available gear when under braking. Adaptive Drive Recognition (ADR), meanwhile, tailors shift points to the individual driver’s style. Thus a more spirited driver in standard ‘Drive’ mode will rapidly adapt to enjoy a shift map more akin to the settings found in ‘Drive Sport’. As the programming is reset during each key cycle – when the car is locked and unlocked – the perceived ‘changes’ to the car’s nature are similarly reset.