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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Jan 13 2012, 1:57 PM

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Toyota’s motorsports partner Gazoo Racing had several machines to show off at the Tokyo Auto Salon, but none as impressive as this Lexus LFA. Prepped for race duty, the car has already seen competition, with an automotive CEO behind the wheel no less.

Akio Toyoda? Nope. Try Dr. Ulrich Bez, the man in charge of Aston Martin and a long time racer.

How exactly the CEO of a competing automaker wound up behind the wheel of the Lexus supercar is the result of a friendship that has grown between Dr. Bez and Mr. Toyoda – a friendship that started when the two shared garage space at the Nurbrgring 24 Hour endurance race a few years back.

The two automakers have volunteered to share space ever since and this past year even shared cars, with Bez getting behind the wheel of the LFA, while Akio Toyoda had the opportunity to pilot Aston Martin’s Zagato V12 race car.

GALLERY: Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA

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 |  Oct 17 2011, 10:30 AM

No stranger to the Nurburgring, Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez has competed at the legendary racetrack since 2006, but this weekend’s event was different. That’s because Bez wasn’t behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, but a race-prepped Lexus LFA.

Bez and Toyota President Akio Toyoda swapped rides for the ninth round of the 2011 VLN series race, with Toyoda piloting Aston’s new V12 Zagato.

“Other company bosses meet on the golf course, we race together,” says Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez.

Rather than a PR stunt, both Bez and Toyota describe the ride swap as result of their friendship, which has developed over the years at the Nurburgring. With up to 200 cars competing on track and a limited number of pit stalls, teams at the Nurburgring are forced to share space with their competitors. Both Aston Martin and Toyota’s Gazoo Racing have done so several times in the past.

“As I learnt that our teams would share a garage once again I renewed my invitation to Akio Toyoda to drive an Aston Martin race car and I was delighted to accept his offer in return”, said Dr. Bez. “We have raced side by side regularly since the 2008 24 hour race here at the Nurburgring. Since then a personal friendship has developed into this decision to experience each other’s race cars.”

Competing in the SP8 class both executives started in their own cars and almost didn’t get the chance to make the switch when the #114 Aston Matin was struck by another car and forced to pit for significant repairs. Back on track before the end of the race, the LFA and V12 Zagato crossed the finish line side-by-side, with Bez in the Lexus and Toyoda in the Aston Martin.

 |  Sep 21 2011, 8:15 AM

“I’m not satisfied with Cygnet sales,” declared Aston Martin‘s Chairman Dr. Ulrich Bez recently, though it’s not for the usual reasons. Rather than lack of demand, Aston’s main problem with the pint-size city car is actually lack of supply.

That said, wait times for the £31,000 (approximately $48,680 U.S.) machine are now starting to put customers off actually buying one, especially since Bez views the car very much as an impulse buy. “It is the sort of product a customer sees and decides they want on the spot – they don’t want to have to wait for their car to be built, but to drive it away there and then,” he said.

Bez says that in order to get Cygnet sales to where they should be depends on two things, firstly availability, which should improve once the company opens its first Cygnet store in London’s swanky Park Lane district and secondly, by taking a more active approach towards promoting the car, which may take time, given Aston’s limited resources.

In addition, with Toyota scheduled to release an electric version of the iQ, on which the Cygnet is based, it’s very likely that a version of this will form the basis for Aston’s first EV.

Aston’s city car has been a controversial topic since day one, yet in response to those who believe the Cygnet is diluting the Aston Martin brand, Bez had this to say, “it [the Cygnet] is a luxury piece, a great car to go around town in. Why would you take a Vantage through London when you could have this?”  He’s got a point.

[Source: Autocar]

 |  May 20 2011, 7:06 AM

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To celebrate 50 year since the first partnership between Aston Martin and Italian coachbuilder Zagato, the duo have now revealed the V12 Zagato which will go on display at the upcoming Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza.

Based on the V12 Vantage the the car uses the same 5.9-liter engine and makes 510-hp. The body has been entirely reworked by Zagato with all new aluminum body panels and plenty of trademark Zagato design cues.

“The task for us has been to create a concept that is a natural successor to those iconic cars that have gone before,” said Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez.  “Matching the technology of the age with the traditional skills vital to deliver such a bespoke and exclusive sports car will lead to a strictly limited run of road going V12 Zagatos.”

In addition to those few street cars, Aston Martin is also preparing a racing version of the ultra-rare exotic and will even compete with it in the Nurburgring 24 hour race on June 25th.

The V12 Zagato will get its first public showing at the Villa d’Este Concours on May 20th, alongside other rare one-offs like the Ferrari Superamerica 45.

GALLERY: Aston Martin V12 Zagato

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 |  May 09 2011, 11:08 AM

To help Japan recover from the recent earthquake and tsunami many foreign companies have donated to relief charities. Aston Martin is the latest to contribute. It’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ulrich Bez is giving up his personal Rapide super-sedan at the Bonhams Auction at Newport Pagnell, with all proceeds going to Japan.

He said; “Nobody could have failed to be moved by the recent events in Japan and we at Aston Martin are no exception. After many years presence in the market and closer ties being forged with the Japanese automotive business in recent projects, we have many friends in the region and we wanted to do something to help. The Bonhams Aston Martin Auction seems the perfect platform to encourage the extended Aston Martin family to support this cause, so we have decided to auction my Rapide which I have used in my role as Chief Executive to represent Aston Martin at numerous events in both UK and Europe. I hope this superb car will raise a substantial amount to help make a difference.”

This well appointed, V12 luxury car will hit the auction stage on May 21. The new owner will get a great car and help a great cause at the same time.

Click here to read AutoGuide’s Aston Martin Rapide review

 

 |  Feb 24 2011, 9:54 AM

With the debut of the Virage, yet another V12-powered luxury exotic this week, it appears as though Aston Martin might actually be making plans for non-V12-powered cars.

And no, we’re not talking about V8s, like the Vantage, but a return to the straight-six.

According to PistonHeads.com, Dr. Ulrich Bez, the top man at Aston, commented that he’s interested in exploring the use of inline six-cylinder engines, even going so far as to quote a displacement of 2.5-liters, paired with turbocharging and direct-injection.

While a possible option for the V8-powered Vantage, the engine would fit in any of Aston’s cars, says Bez, as they are all based on the same architecture with V12s being offered in every model.

The last Aston Martin to be powered by one of the automaker’s straight-six engines was the DB7. Could that badge make a comeback?

[Source: PistonHeads]

 |  Mar 03 2010, 11:40 AM

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Aston Martin introduced a new limited edition run of 40 cars celebrating Chief Executive Ulrich Bez’s tenth anniversary heading the luxury car manufacturer.

The DBS UB-2010 edition includes a run of 20 Coupes and 20 Volantes, each personally specified by Bez with a new Azurite Black paint finish with metallic bronze leather with woven seat inserts and Cryptic Titan facia finish. Each limited edition model features a UB-2010 sill plaque signed by Bez.

Gallery: Aston Martin DBS UB-2010 edition Volante

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 |  Oct 09 2009, 12:47 PM

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Aston Martin has released a stunning piece of video that shows the company’s new sports sedan driving both the Nürburgring and the famous Stelvio Pass in the Alps.

Dubbed “the most elegant four-door sorts car in the world,” the Rapide is powered by a front-mounted 5.9-liter V12 engine. Power is rated at 470hp at 6000 rpm with 443 ft-lbs of torque coming on strong at 5000 rpm. And if we know Aston, it probably sounds like a wicked beast at about 4000 rpm.

The Rapide will be offered exclusively with a six-seed automatic transmission.

As for the design of the car, it’s all Aston up front and even the rear maintains Aston’s signature subtle duck-tail spoiler, which is integrated into the rear hatch. And of course, all four doors flip slightly upward, just like the rest of the Aston fleet. The cabin of the car seats four with 10.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats or 26.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

“Rapide is the culmination of the Aston Martin range of sports cars, a car that seals the revival of a truly admired marque,” said Aston CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez. “There is now an Aston Martin for every taste and for every use. With Rapide, the entire family can enjoy their Aston Martin together in unison, in an invigorating yet comfortable environment, sitting low, with plenty of visibility from every seat and with new levels of comfort, refinement and entertainment.”

GALLERY: Aston Martin Rapide

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GALLERY: Aston Martin Rapide at the Frankfurt Auto Show

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 |  Sep 16 2009, 3:51 AM

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After first debuting a concept version at the North American International Auto Show back in 2007, Aston Martin chose the Frankfurt Auto Show to debut what it calls “the most elegant four-door sorts car in the world.”

The Rapide joins the Porsche Panamera and Maserati Quattroporte in an emerging segment of performance-oriented sedans.

The Rapide is powered by a front-mounted V12 engine, which Aston says is 6.0-liters, but it really closer to 5900ccs. Power is rated at 470hp at 6000 rpm with 443 ft-lbs of torque coming on strong at 5000 rpm. And if we know Aston, it probably sounds like a wicked beast at about 4000 rpm.

The Rapide will be offered exclusively with a six-seed automatic transmission.

As for the design of the car, it’s all Aston up front and even the rear maintains Aston’s signature subtle duck-tail spoiler, which is integrated into the rear hatch. And of course, all four doors flip slightly upward, just like the rest of the Aston fleet. The cabin of the car seats four with 10.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats or 26.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

“Rapide is the culmination of the Aston Martin range of sports cars, a car that seals the revival of a truly admired marque,” said Aston CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez. “There is now an Aston Martin for every taste and for every use. With Rapide, the entire family can enjoy their Aston Martin together in unison, in an invigorating yet comfortable environment, sitting low, with plenty of visibility from every seat and with new levels of comfort, refinement and entertainment.”

GALLERY: 2010 Aston Martin Rapide

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GALLERY: Official Aston Martin Rapide Photos

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Official:

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 |  Jun 29 2009, 9:32 AM

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Aston Martin has just released details of an upcoming concept car the luxury British automaker is working on… and it’s not at all what you might expect. Rather than a high-powered exotic, this new machine, called the Cygnet, is a tiny commuter car.

The Cygnet is based on the Toyota iQ and while it sounds like an April Fool’s joke, the reality is that this mini-car has a lot of potential. For starters, Aston Martin is working on giving the Cygnet a unique Aston Martin look and a serious luxury interior. No doubt owners, particularly in large European urban centers, could use a vehicle like this and then take their $300,000 DBS out to the country on the weekend.

There is, however, an additional (and very strong)  reason the Cygnet may become a reality, and that is the increasingly restrictive fuel-economy regulations in both Europe and the United States. If Aston Martin builds a car like this with what will no doubt be a tiny fuel-efficient engine, it will offset the gas-sucking V8s and V12s that are used in the rest of the company’s lineup.

Currently the Toyota iQ is offered overseas with three engines, the most potent of which makes 99hp from a 1.33-liter gasoline engine.

“Now is the right time for Aston Martin to take this first bold step to embark on this special project – made possible with the support of an organization of Toyota’s stature and capability and the intelligent design and perfect city car package of the iQ,” said Aston Martin CEO, Dr Ulrich Bez. “Much work is still required, but I am confident that this project could become reality in the not too distant future. This concept – akin to an exclusive tender to a luxury yacht – will allow us to apply Aston Martin design language, craftsmanship and brand values to a completely new segment of the market.”

Dr. Bez even alluded to selling the Cygnet like an add-on package to compliment one of the company’s pricier models. “The offering of a ‘Cygnet’ with a DBS, DB9 or Vantage is a unique combination of opposites and a novel transport solution allowing intelligent and sensitive mobility on an exclusive and innovative level,” he said.

According to Automotive News, the Cygnet could be made available to current and prospective Aston Martin owners as early as next year with mass-market sales following the year after. The price of the Cygnet is expected to be around 23,000 Euros – or roughly $32,000.

[Source: Automotive News]

Official release after the jump:

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Aston Martin One-77 Wins Prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Design Award at Villa d’Este

First completed vehicle makes debut at world-renowned concours in Italy

 |  Apr 27 2009, 11:24 PM

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Aston Martin unveiled a completed version of its One-77 supercar at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este over the weekend and those lucky enough to be there were not disappointed. The car was entered into the design contest for concept cars and prototypes and it easily took the top prize, the Concorso d’Eleganza Design Award, with more than 30 percent of the total votes.

“Embodying everything Aston Martin stands for; the One-77 has proven itself as the most desirable automotive art form at its premiere today,” said Aston CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez. “We have achieved a new level of design and craftsmanship which has been clearly recognised by the public here in the homeland of design at Villa d’Este.”

Aston’s Design Director, Marek Reichman was equally enthusiastic, proclaiming that, “To win this award at its first showing is a testament to the Aston Martin team and the original concept. Winning here today has proven One-77 as a benchmark in automotive design.”

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As this was the first time the One-77 was show in full, it also marked the first time the hand-crafted interior had been seen by anyone outside the company.

GALLERY: Aston Martin One-77

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Apr 15 2009, 9:54 AM

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With the official launch of Aston Martin’s four-door Rapide set for later this year, the luxury British automaker has already started teasing us with bits of info. Most important for many is the powerplant.

As expected the Rapide will use the 6.0-liter V12 engine that motivates most of Aston’s lineup. Power is rated at 470hp and 443 ft-lbs of torque and will be accessible through the company’s new Touchtronic automatic gearbox, which first debuted on the DBS.

In terms of design elements, the rear doors will be what Aston calls “swan wing” doors. The doors open upwards and outwards, much like the doors on Aston’s coupes. This will help ease access to the two rear seats.

By the sounds of the press release, however, those rear seats won’t be overly spacious. On the other hand, Aston does claim that cargo space for luggage will be sufficient.

“Rapide will exceed expectations to deliver elegance and practicality in a form that will allow driving enjoyment and comfort beyond anything that exists today,” said Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez, “The Rapide will exist in a class all of its own, a true Aston Martin with the high performance and dynamic excellence that defines the brand, and a luxurious sporting grand tourer without equal.”

GALLERY: 2010 Aston Martin Rapide

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Mar 09 2009, 11:48 AM

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During the company’s press conference at the Geneva Auto Show, Aston Martin’s CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez announced that the British automaker intends to race its new V12 Vantage at the Nürburgring 24 Hour race in May.

The V12 Vantage, which was officially unveiled at the Geneva press conference along-side the new DBS Volante and One-77 supercar, is a combination of Aston’s smallest car with its largest engine. The coupe’s 6.0-liter V12 engine makes 510hp at 420 ft-lbs of torque for a 0-60 mph time of just 4.2 seconds.

Top speed is rated at 190 mph.

Dr. Bez did say that some modifications will obviously be necessary to outfit the vehicle for a race, although he did say they would be minor.

We expect to see a rather stripped-down interior, as well as the addition of a roll cage. Light weight racing wheels and slicks will also, no-doubt, be a part of the package, but don’t expect any crazy suspension changes or wild aerodynamics – although a good-sized spoiler isn’t out of the question.

There is also no word on if CEO Dr. Bez himself will help pilot the car. (He has been known to do such things in the past, including co-piloting a V8 Vantage N24 in the Nürburgring 24 Hours race in 2007.

The 2009 Nürburgring 24 Hour race runs from May 23rd to 24th. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the status of this race contender and its result.

GALLERY: Aston Martin V12 Vantage

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More on the V12 Vantage after the jump:

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 |  Jan 27 2009, 12:37 PM

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While every other automaker in the world seems to be pulling out of motorsports Aston Martin is getting more involved (and in a big way) announcing that it will take on none other than Audi in the LMP1 Class at the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The cars will be based on the 2008 Charouz Racing System Lola and will be powered by the same production-based Aston Martin V12 engine that has rewarded the company with two consecutive GT1 titles in the GT1 Class with the DBR9.

Aston Martin will run two cars throughout the entire European Le Mans Series and have so far chosen all but one of the drivers. The pilots will be Jan Charouz (CZ), Tomas Enge (CZ), Stefan Mücke (DE), Darren Turner (GB) and Harold Primat (CH).

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“Racing has been, and still is at the heart of Aston Martin,” says Aston’s CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez . “Our cars today are subtle, elegant and handcrafted but they still have the genes for competition. I am happy that we have found partners who, with their support, will enable us to compete at the highest level of endurance racing. We will put all our heart and skill behind this project to demonstrate the essence of Aston Martin: Power Beauty and Soul.”

Aston Chairman David Richards is optimistic but also realistic, commenting that, “we do not underestimate the task. While we have won the GT1 class for the last two years, competing against the proven speed and endurance of the diesel-powered cars with all their years of winning the prototype class, will be a massive undertaking. Nonetheless, I see this as a great opportunity to showcase the ingenuity of British engineering talent.”

Be sure to watch Aston Martin take on Audi at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 13/14.

Official release after the jump:

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