After speaking with Aston's new chief executive Andy Palmer at the Geneva Motor Show last week, Car and Driver reports that Gaydon is in no rush to get rid of the building blocks that have made it what it is today. And that means continuing to evolve its VH architecture, twelve-cylinder engine and six-speed manual gearbox.
The company is working to develop a new platform and is collaborating on a new twin-turbo V8 with Mercedes-AMG. But those are still several years out, and Aston doesn't plan to wait that long before rolling out new models. Before the new AMG-powered Vantage is ready, C/D reports that Aston will introduce the replacement for the DB9 that will still be based on the VH platform and pack an evolution of the company's ubiquitous and long-serving 6.0-liter V12.
"That platform was definitely far ahead of its time," Palmer told C/D. "It should have been described as a modular architecture, like [VW's] MQB or one of the other systems big manufacturers have adopted. We're always making excuses about it being an old platform, but if you were to compare the original VH platform to today's there's an enormous transformation. And it's a great way to build cars in the volumes that we do."
The platform and the engine aren't the only old-school technologies Palmer is intent to keep. While Ferrari and Lamborghini do away with the manual altogether, and even Porsche goes PDK-only on the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS, Aston isn't giving up its clutch pedal any time soon. "I would love to be the last car manufacturer providing stick shifts in the U.S.," said Palmer. "That's my hope, we will keep the faith." Of course part of that could come down to Aston not having a dual-clutch transmission to offer, while its antiquated sequential gearbox lags behind the times. But it will likely gain access to Mercedes transmissions along with the engine deal.
Keeping old technologies alive will mean that Aston will have to offset the carbon emissions across its range with more environmentally friendly models, and the DBX concept showcased in Geneva with its all-electric powertrain gave us a pretty good idea of how Aston plans to do so (particularly since discontinuing the Cygnet). But the Vulcan track machine presented alongside it also demonstrated how Gaydon plans to stick to its guns.
Finally, Palmer also indicated that plans to introduce further Lagonda models alongside the Taraf to turn that brand back into Aston's sedan counterpart, taking aim at the likes of Rolls-Royce as it works to expand its market reach from 4,000 units annually to 7,000 in the coming years. Palmer apparently didn't mention Bentley though, which already targets Aston with the Continental GT and encroached even further with the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept.