The Ultimate Evolution Tour

Utter the words ‘Aston Martin’ to most people, and they’ll likely interpret the British sports car manufacturer with the antics of one particularly famous, if reckless, civil servant. Whilst this association is an cachet that has benefited the company’s marketing department no end, Aston Martin has been accused of relying too much on its image and not enough upon their cars’ dynamic performance in their effort to sell cars. Like other petrolheads, I shared the ‘pretty-car-but-not-a-driver’s-car’ view of the brand until my colleagues at GT Scotland and I attended the Scottish leg of the Aston Martin Ultimate Evolution Tour in early December. | aston martin | gran turismo | dp-100 | ultimate evolution tour
The DP-100; only available in Gran Turismo 6

Whilst ostensibly appearing as an event to showcase the edgy DP-100 concept car designed for Gran Turismo, the tour was more than just an excuse to wheel out a clay concept model to be prodded by customers and journalists alike. Held in the glitzy locale of Aston Martin Edinburgh, guests were warmly welcomed by the dealership. The relaxed, club vibe of the evening showed the dealership’s exemplary knowledge of their local customer base, with some Scottish edible treats such as haggis pastry parcels being served. 

The speeches for the evening focussed on the technical achievements made by Aston Martin in 2014 and detailed the ‘under-body facelift’ created for the 2015 Vanquish and Rapide. Somewhat surprisingly for an eight-speed supercar capable of 201mph and 0-60mph in 3.6 seconds was the claimed fuel economy figure of 30mpg. It appears that under the pretty skin of the two cars lies a great deal of engineering development focused not only on increase economy but also the elimation of unnecessary weight. ‘Perfomance’ and ‘efficiency’ were the main buzzwords of the brief, showing Aston’s dedication to justified supercar creation in the twenty-first century. | aston martin | N430 | ultimate evolution tour | scotland
The chassis of the 2015 Vanquish and Rapide models and the N430 V8 racer
Amongst the throng of tweed jackets, black dresses and a string quartet were some of Gaydon’s finest gran turismos. My attention was caught first by the volcanic Vanquish outside, but a wander onto the showroom floor soon revealed a bevy of stunning designs. Whilst the DP-100 concept and N430 race and road cars were the focal points of the evening’s entertainment, a V12 Vantage S convertible and coupe finished in Yellow Tang and glittering Cobalt Blue respectively demonstrated each car’s beautiful lines, even when painted in more ostentatious colours than the popular greens, blacks and greys. Both Vantages were sporting the ‘lipstick pack’ of black highlights around the grille, aping those of Aston’s endurance racers. An Aston mechanic caught my admiring glance and gave me a knowing look. “It’s an absolute beast; you need to concentrate to drive it well.” Not for the enthusiastic amateur, then.
                                             | V12 Vantage S | aston martin | scotland | ultimate evolution tour | V12 vantage s | aston martin | scotland | ultimate evolution tour
Worth every penny of £158, 305
I’ve always had an admiration for the V12 S’s oxymoronic existence: whilst it is 911-sized physically, it packs an old-school, naturally-aspirated heart in its dainty frame, updating the basic design in the hotly-contested European sports car bracket. As emissions regulations get more restrictive, Aston will be remembered for their adherence to the simple practice of wedging a massive chunk of engine and torque into a small body. It’s as close as possible to what we could comfortably call a European muscle car.
The service bay also contained a very rare gem for sale: a 2007 Vanquish S. One of just over 1000 ever built, this Scottish example awaited its next owner and looked practically brand-new. As the last model to roll hand-built out of Newport Pagnell, it’s definitely a design that will appreciate in value. | aston martin | vanquish s | newport pagnell | scotland | ultimate evolution tour
Seated in the Vanquish S. Spot the Ford switchgear…
Away from the showroom floor, a full PlayStation 3 Logitech gaming rig had been set up for those who wanted to try their hand at lapping a virtual DP-100 around Brands Hatch, with the winner being entered into a draw to win an Aston Martin experience day. It was this mix of modern and traditional Aston Martin elements that I asked UK Sales Manager Laura Bowmer to explain to me. She commented that Aston Martin was aiming to attract sales from a younger market, as well as consolidating their existing fan base, through social media and digital outlets. The importance of the Bond factor was acknowledged by Laura, as the modern-day brand image of Aston Martin is to her bigger than the company itself. Aston’s commitment to this open-door venture pervades every aspect of their public image: at international motor shows, for example, the public are free to inspect the cars on the stand as they please. 
Away from the cinematic influences, Aston Martin has sometimes been interpreted as a stylish car manufacturer struggling in the face of more technically-astute rivals. This chapter of the company seems to be a thing of the past. Aston has invested heavily in the technical developments of their current model range and if they successfully combine chassis dynamics, performance and economy with striking designs, they should be able to get customer’s heads and hearts to finally agree.

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