Aston Martin has unveiled the up-close details of its Valkyrie hypercar, revealing an in-your-face design that breaks with traditional high-end performance car themes, and stirs a wave of controversy in the process.
Despite a rumoured price tag of around £2.5 million (A$4.2m), the Valkyrie will arrive surprisingly free from the kind of high-dollar luxury features and trims that fill hypercars like the Bugatti Chiron, and Ferrari’s flagship LaFerrari.
Motorsport principles have governed the Valkyrie’s development, meaning an exterior shape uncompromised by practicality and an interior free of unnecessary items meaning exterior mirrors, a rear window, and even a traditional seat are all off the menu.
What you’ll find instead are a trio of rear view cameras feeding interior monitors, a removable steering wheel that houses the entire instrument cluster and all of the vehicle's control buttons and switches, and foam pads glued directly to the Valkyrie’s carbon fibre chassis.
At the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed, Aston Martin design chief Marek Reichman indicated what owners can expect from the Valkyrie.
"It has a completely reclined driving position - you're sitting with your heels higher than your butt," he explained.
"You sit on the tub more reclined than this [Aston's Vanquish sports car], at about 54 degrees. There is an option to go a little more upright, about 40 degrees, but that's for smaller drivers who need to sit a little bit higher in the car.
"You get fitted into the tub - pressed into a bag that becomes your seat that gets fitted into the tub. The wheel adjusts and the pedals adjust to accommodate the driver."
The process of being fitted to your car imitates the process used by F1 and Le Mans drivers, who dispense with a traditional seat in lieu of custom-fitted seats lined with foam to match their body shape. Aston claims the car will fit 98 per cent of adults, and has ensured that the cabin offers enough flexibility to accommodate tall and bulky owners.
Aston Martin’s uncompromising approach has also seen the exterior form revised from the initial styling preview shown in 2016 under the guidance of Red Bull Racing F1 engineer, Adrian Newey.
Responsible not only for the Valkyrie’s unique appearance, the ‘gaps’ in the body sides, between the front wheels and the cockpit itself, were identified by Newey as being a key element in achieving the desired levels of downforce, with Aston Martin’s design team tasked with maintaining their aerodynamic function while integrating them into the styling in a resolved way.
"This is a 'once-in-a-lifetime' for any designer to be involved in something that will change the face of hypercars. It's going to be a long time before it is surpassed – it may never be repeated." Reichman said of the Valkyrie project.
Reichman says design duties were split between himself and Newey, with the F1 aerodynamicist concentrating on design driven by engineering, and Reichman taking charge of style.
"When Adrian and I met, my sketches of what I believed the car was going to be like, versus his, were so very similar, but his had an engineering bias and mine were driven by the aesthetics of beauty," Reichman says.
To that end Aston Martin has created innovative solutions to ensure no part of the design compromises Reichman’s aesthetics or impacts the design negatively, right down to the winged badge on the front of the car, made from laser etched aluminium thinner than a human hair, attached to the car then sealed in with a layer of clearcoat for a seamless finish that neither adds weight or interrupts airflow.
Headlights also get the essentials-only treatment, with no additional cladding leaving the headlight frame exposed and making the lighting units 30-40 percent lighter than the lightest production car headlights in use, according to Aston Martin.
Beneath the science-fiction exterior the Valkyrie lives up to its performance potential thanks to a circa 1000 kilogram weight powered by a naturally aspirated V12 engine that makes around 1000 horsepower (745kW), aided by battery assistance used at low speed and for torque vectoring when cornering.
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