Aston Martin Debuts the Vantage for North America - Kanebridge News
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Aston Martin Debuts the Vantage for North America

By JIM MOTAVALLI
Fri, Mar 22, 2024 9:22amGrey Clock 4 min

It’s impossible to go 202 miles per hour on Manhattan’s Park Avenue (and you shouldn’t try) but that’s where Aston Martin’s opulent showroom is, just down the road from Ferrari. The cars follow the money, and the new Vantage that had its North American debut in New York this month carries a price tag of US$191,000.

Aston is aiming to produce “the definitive front-engine, rear-wheel drive sports car,” powered by a four-litre AMG-sourced twin-turbo V8 engine producing 655 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Shifting through an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox (there’s no manual option), it can reach 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. The Vantage can be ordered now, with deliveries this summer.

In other words, the Vantage is a traditional supercar in an age of rapid electrification. There isn’t an auto company in the world that isn’t aware of what’s ahead. And according to Alex Long, who was in New York and heads product and market strategy for Aston, the company is collaborating with California-based Lucid on an electric Aston that will appear in 2026. They’re having the naming discussions now, but few details are available. Lucid, which fields the ultra-fast Air Sapphire , is a pioneer in developing lighter and smaller components for EVs.

The two-seat Vantage has a lot of overlap with the DB12 (a 2+2, meaning it has two decent sized seats in the front and two smaller ones in the back] and it’s a venerable name in the Aston Martin universe, going back 70 years. The new model has been greatly reworked, with modifications to the chassis, engine, body design (the grille is 30% larger), and an all-new interior and bespoke in-house infotainment system with the company’s first touchscreen. Horsepower is up 30% and the torque is up 15%.

The DB12, seen in convertible form, is a Vantage relative that offers 2+2 seating.
Jim Motavalli

Technical types can thrill to such revelations as “a stiffer-yet-lighter front engine cross brace for increased torsional rigidity and lateral stiffness between the front suspension towers,” as described by Aston Martin.

The new Vantage is indeed techy for an Aston Martin, and offers active vehicle dynamics, adaptive shock absorbers from Bilstein, and an electronic rear differential. There’s a launch control system that manages torque to keep the car planted when it takes off for the horizon.

“[Owner] Lawrence Stroll has made a huge investment in Aston Martin,” Long says. “He believes that in supercar positioning, we have to go all the way.” The Vantage on display was certainly gorgeous in eye-popping Podium Green, which has some blue in it. Apparently the tried-and-true but dark British Racing Green comes off as black in photographs. The vivid green contrasts with a neon-like Lime Essence stripe around the rocker panels and tail.

There was no driving component, but racing driver Darren Turner, a three-time Le Mans winner and an Aston Martin development driver, was on hand.

“I’ve been with the Vantage development program from the beginning,” Turner says. “Our aim with the driving modes [which include Sport, Sport Plus, and Track] was precision behind the wheel.” There’s no “comfort” mode—if you want to commute or buy groceries, you use Sport which, Turner says, “is not too hard on the suspension.”

Long says the Vantage is “practical” because it has a big trunk, but it’s young couples and empty-nesters who won’t mind the absence of a back seat. As for what’s under the hood, Aston’s customers are still thrilling to the sound of a V8 engine and are not pushing for an EV. But with a European ban on internal combustion by 2035, and similar directives in American states, EVs are inevitable under the Aston banner.

Inside the Vantage, with a new infotainment system.
Jim Motavalli

Meanwhile, Aston has other models coming. The ultra-exclusive Cosworth V12-powered Valkyrie (priced at up to US$3.5 million for the track AMR Pro version) will be replaced by the even-more-potent Valhalla at the end of this year. Only 999 Valhallas will be built. The 937-horsepower Valhalla, with an AMG V-8 and two electric motors, will be Aston’s first plug-in hybrid and priced around US$800,000. The Valkyrie was a huge hit in terms of garnering publicity for the brand, and the Valhalla will similarly serve. Just 150 Valkyrie coupes and 85 Spyders are being built, and production should be done by the end of 2024.

The DBX was an instant big seller for Aston
Jim Motavalli

Aston has put considerable effort recently into Formula One and GT racing, and there’s also the Vantage GT4 competition car, which (because of strict rules) shares about 80% of the road car’s structure and mechanicals. But the bonded aluminium chassis gains a custom roll cage.

Aston Martin sold 6,620 cars in 2023. When the company introduced its first SUV, the DBX, it quickly became the company’s runaway bestseller despite a high price tag, now at US$200,086. The DBX 707 (the number is the horsepower rating) ups the ante. SUV leadership is a common result among supercar enterprises that grit their teeth and build SUVs to fulfil consumer demand.

It may be a while before Aston Martin is an all-electric brand. Right now, it’s keeping the order books filled with AMG-powered supercars. But transition is ahead.



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Leaders with epic hobbies seem to squeeze more hours out of the day than the rest of us

By Callum Borchers
Fri, Jul 19, 2024 4 min

Many of us can barely keep up with our jobs, never mind hobbies. Yet some top executives run marathons, wineries or music-recording studios on the side. How can they have bigger responsibilities and more fun than we do?

It can seem like ultrahigh achievers find extra hours in the day. They say they’ve just figured out how to manage their 24 better than the rest of us.

They also admit they take full advantage of the privileges of being a boss—the power to delegate and the means to do things like jetting to Denmark for a long weekend of windsurfing.

Dan Streetman trains as many as 20 hours a week for Ironman triathlons in addition to his job as CEO of cybersecurity firm Tanium. It’s a big commitment for anyone, never mind a corporate leader who travels to meet with customers every week. He pulls it off by sleeping fewer than seven hours a night and waking around 5 a.m., planning his exercise sessions months in advance, and switching his brain from work mode to sport mode almost as fast as he transitions from swimming to cycling during a competition.

“I tend to work right up until the day of the race,” says Streetman, 56 years old. “I remember being on a board call on a Friday night, and Saturday morning was an Ironman. That’s just part of it.”

Ahead of business trips, he maps running routes in unfamiliar cities and scouts nearby pools, often at YMCAs. He rides stationary bikes in hotel gyms and, if they’re subpar, makes a note to book somewhere else next time he’s in town.

Leaders who eat, breathe and sleep business can appear out of touch at a time when employees crave work-life balance and expect their bosses to model it. Today’s prototypical CEO has a full life outside of work, or at least the appearance of one.

Their tactics include waking up early, multitasking and scheduling fun as if it were any other appointment. When you’re a top executive, hobbies tend to disappear unless they’re on the calendar. One CEO told me he disguises “me time” as important meetings. Only his assistant knows which calendar blocks are fake.

Ben Betts calls himself a “spreadsheet guy,” which is a bit like saying Michelangelo was a paint guy. With Excel as his canvas, Betts creates cell-by-cell checklists for just about everything he does, from cooking Christmas dinner to building a coop for newly hatched ducklings.

Betts, 41, is CEO of Learning Pool, a professional-development software maker. The duck home is part of his ambitious effort to restore an 18th-century farmhouse in England. He’s been renovating for about five years and aims to finish this fall.

On a recent Saturday, Betts’s spreadsheet called for stripping overhead beams by 5 p.m. so he could refinish them. Otherwise, the task would have to wait until the following weekend, throwing off his whole timeline. His vision of the home as a cozy enclave—completed in time for the holidays—can only come true if he sticks to a precise plan.

“Sometimes I stand in the doorway, and my wife probably wonders what I’m staring at,” he says. “I’m picturing us on a corner sofa with our two kids and the dog, watching a film in front of the fireplace I installed.”

Back in the swing

John Sicard , president and CEO of supply-chain manager Kinaxis , got back into drumming many years after he let go of his dream to become a professional musician. He practices almost every day, but his sessions sometimes last only 20 minutes. He rehearses with bandmates two or three times a month. That’s enough to prepare Sicard, 61, to play Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin covers at occasional charity gigs.

He also built a studio in his house, where he records up-and-coming artists. He finds time by sticking to this management philosophy: “The most successful CEOs do the least amount of work.”

For Sicard, that means letting his lieutenants take charge of—and responsibility for—their divisions. Many corporate leaders work harder than they need to because they micromanage or hire poorly and pick up the slack, he says.

Thomas Hansen , president of software maker Amplitude, is back to windsurfing, a sport he competed in as a teenager. He lives near the ocean in California but gets out on the water only about once a month, when the waves are just right. Hobbies don’t need to be daily activities to be fulfilling, he says, especially if they require training regimens.

To stay in shape for windsurfing, he rises at 4:30 a.m., seven days a week, for an hour of exercise. Hansen, 54, also guards his Saturdays and Sundays like the crown jewels of Denmark, his native country, limiting himself to two working weekends a year. Things that feel urgent can almost always wait till Monday, he contends.

‘Like a badass’

When Christine Yen isn’t calling the shots at work, she’s circling a racetrack at 80 mph on her Honda CB300F motorcycle. The co-founder and CEO of Honeycomb, which helps engineers diagnose problems in their software, took up racing a few years ago.

Prepandemic, her motorcycle was strictly for commuting in San Francisco—and making an impression. She loved pulling up to investor meetings in her hornet-yellow helmet and leather riding suit.

“It fits me like a glove, and it makes me feel like a badass,” says Yen, 36.

The keys to spending full days at the track are planning and being willing to work at odd hours, Yen discovered. Her favorite track publishes racing schedules in 10-week batches. As soon as a slate is released, she circles the dates when she expects her workload will be lightest, aiming to participate in roughly half of the events.

“I have also been known to bring my laptop to the motel and get some work done in the evenings,” she says. “It sounds boring to say hobbies can be scheduled, but that’s how I protect my time.”