Aston Martin is looking back to plan its future.
The British sportscar brand has officially commenced its technical tie-up with Mercedes-AMG, introducing the DB11 V8 this week powered by the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 from the AMG GT.
However, it might not be the only Mercedes-Benz engine powering an Aston in the future. As fuel use regulations tighten further it could eventually force the British brand to adopt smaller motors in the future including, potentially, Mercedes' new family of in-line six-cylinder units.
Speaking to TMR at the launch of the DB11 V8 in Spain this week, the DB11's Vehicle Line Director, Paul Barritt, indicated the company is evaluating a variety of powertrain options and that all future models will have some ort of electrification in the next 10 years.
"We're watching everything that they're doing, and there are certain things in place [within the agreement] but not everything," he said.
"We will just keep a watching brief and see what fits in with our plans. You can see the direction of travel within the industry and we'd be foolish not to be looking at the sixes, and we're still looking at eights and twelves."
Iconic models like the DB4 and DB5 were powered by inline six-clyinder engines and helped forge the foundations for the sportscar brand. In fact it wasn't until the Vantage arrived in 1970 that it introduced its first V8-powered car.
Likewise, Mercedes-Benz has a long and storied history with the engine configuration, and has recently re-introduced it with a family of high-tech motors making their first appearance in the updated S-Class limousine.
It is understood that Mercedes-AMG is working on its own adaptation of the twin-turbo petrol version, potentially with some form of hybrid assistance and expected to be dubbed 50 (as in AMG C50 and AMG E50), and stretching power outputs beyond the 320kW/520Nm generated by the mainstream model.
"It's a really interesting engine that one. It has plenty of potential," said Barritt.
"But I don't think it matters whether it is an in-line or a vee, it is more whether the fundamentals of that engine give us, as Aston Martin, what we feel we need for our customers. I don't think we're bothered by the configuration, as we're looking at all options."
In any case, Aston Martin will likely turn to Mercedes for assistance in adapting battery technology, even though Williams Advanced Engineering - a division of the Formula One team - will help develop the upcoming RapidE, Aston's first fully-electric car, due in 2019.
"I expect there will be some help from them in that regard [on other models]. Why wouldn't we adopt the learnings of someone that has been researching and developing these new technologies for decades now," said Barritt
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