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Aston Martin Considers Engine Downsizing: Report


1999 Aston Martin DB7

1999 Aston Martin DB7

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Automakers worldwide are concerned with ever-tightening fuel economy and emission standards. For full-line automakers like Ford and General Motors, raising Corporate Average Fuel Economy is as simple as pushing sales of fuel-efficient compact and midsize models, which tend to sell in reasonable volumes anyway.

For a boutique luxury automaker like Aston Martin, emphasizing the sale of fuel-efficient models really isn’t an option. Aside from the low-volume Aston Martin Cygnet (a badge-engineered Toyota iQ), every model in Aston Martin’s current range comes with V-8 or V-12 power, with some engines making as much as 750 horsepower.

While earlier models like the DB7 I6 were available with in-line six-cylinder engines, Aston Martin dropped its 3.2-liter six from production in 1998. Aston Martin buyers, it seemed, were more concerned with power and prestige than with fuel economy.

As Bob Dylan pointed out, the times they are a changing. Autocar quotes Aston Martin head Ulrich Bez as saying the brand is “open to the concept” of using smaller engines, as long as doing so wouldn’t detract from the brand’s desirability.

While Aston Martin has reduced the emission output of its current engines by 25-percent in the past six years, it still needs improvement going forward. Bez isn’t ruling out engines as small as three or four cylinders, as long as producing them wouldn’t “undermine exclusivity.”

We suspect that a forced induction in-line six-cylinder engine, complete with technologies like variable valve timing and direct fuel injection, would be the first step in downsizing. Rumor had it that Aston Martin was working on such an engine last year, so don’t be surprised if it debuts in the not-too-distant future.
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