2010 Aston Martin V12 Vantage - Official Photos and Info

While Aston Martin bolsters its racing efforts by preparing a pair of V-12 LMP1 prototypes for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, the U.K. automaker also is upping its road-car game with the unveiling of the similarly-powered V-12 Vantage coupe at the Geneva auto show in March. Stemming from the V-12-powered Vantage RS concept introduced in late 2007 at Aston’s dedicated design studio, the production version was completed in little more than a year and will be limited to no more than 500 examples annually when deliveries commence in the third quarter of this year, the automaker says.

Big Engine, Little Car

Although not as over-the-top as the limited-edition One-77, the V-12 Vantage represents the grin-inducing marriage of Aston’s smallest, most-agile model with its 6.0-liter V-12 engine. Rather than using the 600-hp racing V-12 from the DBR9 race car, as did the RS concept, Aston chose to use the DBS's existing V-12, which produces 510 hp at 6500 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 5750 rpm. With the Vantage’s lighter weight compared with the DBS serving as the equalizer, the company says the V-12 should propel the 3700-pound Vantage to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 190 mph, besting the last DBS we tested by a small margin.

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2009 Aston Martin DBS Automatic - First Drive Review

Some days, it’s tough to be objective. These include those all-too-rare moments when we slide into the grippy driver’s seat of an Aston Martin DBS, which is one of the most achingly beautiful automobiles on the planet. Sure, it’s blatantly elitist, horribly impractical, and obnoxiously expensive, but when one pulls up and a dude jumps out and hands over the ECU key-thing, all sensibility is abandoned and the inner sybarite is the only influence you listen to.

Then again, isn’t such a swirl of emotion exactly whatshould happen with a car that costs over $270,000? We think so, and thus we don’t apologize for savoring every minute of this particular two-day test drive in Los Angeles, hurtling from stoplight to stoplight along L.A.’s busy boulevards, where everyone that drives an Aston Martin is famous—or at least famous-looking. Even in L.A., the attention one gets in the flagship DBS is constant, and you can’t help but buy into it. You have to dress up to drive this car.

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2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante - Auto Shows

Aston Martin will use the Geneva auto show to introduce the world to its latest creation, the DBS Volante. By popping the top on the most super of its current cars (the $1.75 million One-77 will soon serve as the range-topper) Aston has reduced its structural rigidity and added more than 250 pounds to the package, while also carving out room for two more “passengers” and keeping claimed performance the same. Oh, and it still looks good, too.

The Volante’s electrically operated cloth top disappears under a handsome metal tonneau. Up/down operation can occur at speeds up to 30 mph and takes just 14 seconds. Aston has placed the top’s hydraulic pump in a special enclosure to keep nasty noise and vibration from the occupants.

When is a Seat Not a Seat?

Lowering the roof reveals a pair of “occasional” seats fitted in the rear, making the DBS Volante a 2+2, as opposed to the coupe’s two-seat layout (the DBS coupe does offer the extra seats as an option, but they’re hardly inhabitable due to the sloping rear window). The seats are intended for “younger persons or extra luggage” and will likely see more of the latter than the former.

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2010 Aston Martin One-77 - Auto Shows

We have reported endlessly, it seems, on the stunningly fast, stunningly expensive, and stunningly styled Aston Martin One-77 in advance of the car’s official unveiling, which has just taken place at the 2009 Geneva auto show. Now that the supercar is out of the bag, we have more details on the most ambitious automobile in the company’s history.

Race Car Inside

The One-77’s architecture was guided, Aston says, by the principles of front-engine/rear-drive touring-car racers, incorporating a carbon-fiber monocoque and a double-wishbone suspension that features inboard, pushrod-actuated dynamic shocks. And, as with race cars themselves, final suspension tuning that will be set once the vehicle is actually delivered to the owner for the ultimate in customization. Interestingly, Aston claims that the beauty of each mechanical component was considered as the One-77 progressed, not just its function. And having seen it in person now, we can personally vouch for the company’s efforts.

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Aston Martin Lagonda Concept - Auto Shows

Aston Martin used the 2009 Geneva auto show to introduce the first physical evidence of the revived Lagonda name, last seen on the Bill Towns–designed wedge-shaped four-door sedan from the 1980s. The Lagonda concept is called a tourer by the Aston folks, but looks more like a modernist crossover vehicle to us.

Designer Marek Reichman told us that it's "a vehicle that can take its passengers in ultimate luxury from St. Petersburg to Moscow, a vehicle that allows us to venture into different places, whereas Aston Martins will always be low-slung sports cars." The interior is configured so that the rear seats are more like those in a private jet, with the front seats being more driver-focused. The Lagonda is being pitched as a luxury vehicle for emerging markets such as the Middle East, China, and Russia, where privacy is very important, which explains the high beltline at the back and the slit of a rear window.

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2010 Aston Martin DBS Volante and V12 Vantage - Video

Aston's newest droptop and V-12 coupe hit the Geneva show floor.

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