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Aston Martin is moving towards eight-speed transmissions and new fuel management to reduce fuel consumption.
Aston Martin revealed August 5 details of 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 2015 model-year cars in markets around the world over the next few months, the luxury British brand said it 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 this gearbox has been incorporated into a transaxle layout – Aston Martin stated it is improving every major area of the cars’ performance and fuel economy. The brand’s engineers have worked with technical partner, ZF, to develop the eight-speed technology and integrate it into the latest generation of the Aston Martin VH architecture.
The 0-60 mph times for both the Vanquish and Rapide S are reduced in 2015 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.
Aston Martin said 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, added Aston Martin. In both sports cars the CO2 figure drops by an average of ten percent. Economy is boosted by thirteen percent (Rapide S) and seven percent (Vanquish) with the new transmission (US Combined cycle). 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.
Aston Martin will reveal exact fuel consumption ratings closer to model launch.
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 horsepower to a peak of 568 horsepower in Vanquish, and two horsepower, 552 horsepower, in Rapide S. Peak torque is up too, to 465 pound-feet at 5,500 rpm in all the cars.
The new eight-speed Touchtronic III automatic gearbox is three percent lighter than its predecessor and packaged more efficiently occupying precisely the same space within the car yet adding two further ratios over the outgoing transmission, explained Aston Martin.
Providing more info about the new transmission, Aston Martin said the 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.
“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,” said Ian Minards, Aston Martin product development director. “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, added the British automaker, such as ‘Drive’ and ‘Drive Sport’ modes along with ‘Paddle Shift’ and ‘Paddle Shift Sport’ options for more engaging, sporting, shift control. 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.
Engine management upgrade
2015 Aston Martin Vanquish and Rapide S models benefit from the addition of the latest Bosch Engine Management System, added Aston Martin. The new system, which delivers more precise engine control and seamlessly communicates with the new gearbox, receives its first application in an Aston Martin that combines the AM29 V12 engine and an automatic gearbox.
Meanwhile other electronic and engineering changes have taken place in 2015 cars to deliver a consistent GT character by perfectly aligning the chassis with improvements in powertrain performance and accessibility, added Aston Martin. For instance, a revised torque tube reduces transmission noise transfer into the passenger compartment while revised DSC sees the retuned stability system optimised for the new gearbox. A revised steering ECU delivers an even more crisp and precise steering response.
The global market introduction of 15MY sports cars begins in Q3 of 2014, with more details on market-specific pricing and options available in due course.