With the 4.0-liter, twin-turbo Mercedes-AMG V8 that powers its base models under threat from a hybridized, big-boost two-liter four-cylinder, Aston Martin's aversion to four-bangers means that it needs a contingency plan for when its outsourced V8 goes the way of the dinosaurs. And it has one, says Aston's CEO Dr. Andy Palmer, who recently confirmed in an interview with Car and Driver that his company is developing a hybrid V6.
"Mercedes have made no secret of where their engine technology is moving to, and obviously we don't foresee four-cylinder engines in our Astons, so we've got to make our own journey," Palmer told Car and Driver. The Aston executive affirmed his company's V6 will have to be at least as powerful as the 500-plus-horsepower V8 it replaces, and that it'll have to sound at least as good despite losing a couple of cylinders.
"As you move on, you normally expect a power increase, not a decrease. You're supposed to do that even with a smaller power unit, so there's no way our customers are going to expect to step backward," Palmer continued. "The key is sound, tuning the pipes to make it sound like an Aston. Obviously we can use the hybrid system and the electric motor to fill in on torque so you can compensate for the cylinder size with the electrical assist. As long as it feels like a V8 and sounds majestic, I think it's a perfectly sensible way to go, and a lot more sensible than an [inline] four would be for us."
Palmer stated that the V6's hybrid system will fit "upstream" of the transmission to permit compatibility with the transmissions Aston Martin already uses, and that the engine will be built in the United Kingdom. This V6 is expected to eventually take over where the Mercedes V8 will leave off, meaning it could power everything from the Vantage to the DBX, Valhalla, and Vanquish. Reports have suggested the Vanquish could be available in manual, and when asked about the possibility of more manual Astons, Palmer didn't shoot the idea down.
"I think there is a group of people who love what I'd call the romanticism of the manual car," said Palmer. "I wouldn't stick a pin in and say the Vantage is our last one, I'd like to think there might be the room for more in the future, but I can't say that with certainty."
The executive also clarified that expediting the V6's development was behind the delayed relaunch of the Lagonda marque and that V12s will remain a part of Aston's portfolio for the time being.
"I hope the V12 is around for a good while longer. You can see in the longer term it won't last, but certainly over the next few years we can continue to produce V12 engines and we can make them more CO2-friendly," Palmer concluded. "It will be a sad day when we see the V12 engine disappear from an Aston."
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