Aston Martin and Lexus Race Track Refugees in ICE Swan Song

Almost as if the sportscar manufacturers realize the end of the ICE age approaches too fast, they are trying to end on a high with a flourish of special ‘hot’ editions.

Aston Martin, for example, is launching the race track inspired Vantage F1 Edition that celebrates the marques return to Formula 1 for the first time in more than 60 years. This range topper of the Vantage line-up is a direct result of the engineering that went into the development of the Vantage as an Official Safety Car of Formula 1, which makes its debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix 2021 this week.

Heading up the car’s performance features is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 gasoline engine with power raised by 22bhp to a new maximum of 531bhp. Peak torque remains unchanged at 505ft-lbs but that peak is sustained for longer through the rev range. This unit is married to a eight-speed automatic transmission, with a torque cut-out during upshifts that reduces change times. This system claims to enhance the sense of control and connection during downshifts specifically under heavy braking. While noticeable in all circumstances and conditions, these improvements are especially beneficial when driving on track.

The chassis boasts increased front structural stiffness and reworked damper internals. Both modifications claim to bring a noticeable improvement in vertical body control without any deterioration in low-speed compliance. To compliment changes to the dampers, the chassis also benefits from increased rear spring rate and lateral stiffness to help sharpen turn-in, increase traction, especially over bumps, and ensure the rear-end is tuned to compliment the front-end’s rate of response.

Wheels are increased to 21-inch items wearing tires developed especially for the car with Pirelli. Much like the other dynamic changes, the switch to a lower profile tire provides greater feedback to ensure progressive on-limit handling. Completing the Vantage F1 Edition’s performance enhancements is a comprehensive aero kit, designed to deliver positive front and rear downforce, totaling 420-lbs more downforce than Vantage at top speed. The aerodynamic changes comprise a full-width front splitter, front dive planes, underbody turning vanes and a new rear wing. The new Vantage F1® Edition is on sale now with a recommended retail price from £142,000 in the UK and €162,000 in Germany with deliveries scheduled to begin in May 2021.

At the same time, Lexus has revealed a US only special limited edition, the 2022 IS 500 F Sport Performance Launch Edition. Only 500 serialized vehicles will be produced, and it will be sold exclusively in North America.

It will be powered by the same naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine introduced in the standard generating 468bhp at 7,100 rpm and 395ft-lbs of peak torque at 4,800 rpm. Its story is more about chassis and visual enhancements including sporty two-tone black and gray ‘Ultrasuede’ trimmed front and rear seats, door accents, and center console. Additionally, the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel receives silver ash wood treatment with black F Sport Performance badging plus instruments with Launch Edition startup animation.

It wears 19-inch split-seven-spoke forged alloy matte black BBS wheels from the IS F Sport Dynamic Handling Package. Beyond looks, they are approximately four pounds lighter per wheel compared to the standard 19-inch IS F SPort wheel. The vehicle will be sold exclusively in ‘Incognito’, an all-new color for the Lexus line-up.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *