Wealthy enthusiasts fearing a zero-emission, autonomous future could be shopping in Aston Martin dealerships in years to come, with CEO Andy Palmer stating the V12 engine and manual gearbox are a firm part of his plans for the future of the British luxury brand.
Aston recently re-introduced a seven-speed manual for the V12 Vantage S, and Palmer told MOTOR that this is likely to be retained going forward. “For the volumes that we have, we couldn’t justify developing a new ’box, so everything we do will probably be an update of the current six- and seven-speed ’boxes.
“I kind of like the dog-leg first [gear] and it goes all the way back to the ’70s with the V8 Vantage, so it speaks to the history and no-one else does it so that becomes the standard gate going forward.”
Palmer also plans to keep using big-capacity V12s as long as possible, with Aston Martin’s using electric propulsion for selected future models to lower its all-important fleet average CO2 emissions rather than offering downsized engines across the range.
“You’ve only got two routes you can go,” explains Palmer. “You can either downsize your engines, which you end up putting a four-cylinder engine into a sports car, and I would say that a four-cylinder engine is always going to sound crap, or it’s find a way of running your ‘Vee’ engines forever.
“The only way you can do that in an environment of CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) is a big offset, and your big offset is your battery-electric i.e. zero.”
Palmer is also unconcerned that an inherently silent electric car will fail to provide the emotion and excitement traditionally offered by Aston’s internal combustion engines: “I would say that sound can be different; sound drives you emotionally and the hairs on the back of your head stand up when you hear a V12 or a V8, or even a V6.
“But you can get wonderful sensations from massive acceleration and silence. It drives the emotions in a different way, so I’d say that electric is more true to that authenticity of sound than an inline-four.
“Since the world doesn’t stand still and there’s legislation that forces me to go in one direction, I’d rather have the emotion of a V12 combined with the emotion of zero sound than be forced to go to an inline-four engine.”