V12s and manuals are as much a part of Aston as gorgeous 007-approved designs.
Aston Martin has been going through somewhat of a renaissance lately, and that's due in large part to its very own CEO and in-house renaissance man, Andy Palmer. When Palmer began to head the company in 2014, he set out to make Aston Martin profitable again by debuting new models and wielding an obsessive focus on quality. When The Drive sat down with Palmer for a chat about the brand's future, he reiterated how he was so intent on ensuring that the DB11 upheld high quality standards when it first rolled out that he famously inspected the first 1,000 cars personally.
During the interview, Palmer revealed that he even sent the first 400-500 cars back in order to have them reworked to perfection. The process was so arduous that Aston Martin only built 1,004 cars in the same span of time it was supposed to build 1,200, but that sort of attention to detail was what helped the automaker get back on track.
But that's already in Aston Martin's past. What about the company's future? Thankfully, Palmer dispensed tidbits of information about that, especially in regards to electrification, manual transmissions, and the V12 engine.
Speaking about the former, Palmer claimed that all Astons will go hybrid, though the automaker won't build any plug-in hybrid variants. The roll-out will begin sometime in the mid-2020s, with some models not gaining the dual powertrain setup until their next generation is ushered in. That mandate has a lot to do with the fact that many cities across Europe are enacting laws that ban internal combustion engines, so the move is a necessity if Aston Martin wants its EU customers to be able to drive its cars.
On the subject of the V12, Palmer says that the addition of hybrid models will allow the V12 to stay around for the next decade. When asked how much time the V12 has left, Palmer replied, "I think at least until the next generation. Smaller capacity perhaps. There's some interesting work to do on combustion technology, propagation, thermal efficiencies. The holy grail here is to move the thermal efficiency of the engine more towards 50-percent. Inevitably, that means bringing the capacity down. And that's why hybridization is important. But I can easily imagine the V-12 not just lasting through this generation of cars, but also the next generation."
That's promising news, but what's better than an Aston Martin with a V12? An Aston Martin with a V12 and a manual transmission, of course. And according to Palmer, American customers are the group that's doing the most to ensure stick shifts stay in the modern Aston Martin.
"When I'm here, the question I get asked most about? Manual transmission," says Palmer. "Now, who would have thought that? Americans demanding manual transmissions. But for those people that are in this market, which is a passion market, having a manual transmission is really important. As is a V-12."