Friday, July 19, 2024
Cars

Aston Martin Valkyrie Review (2023)


Getting rolling is easy. The axial flux motor of the hybrid system that sits between engine and gearbox can provide low-speed drive for manoeuvring – one of the reasons there is no reverse gear. The Valkyrie isn’t electric enough to power itself with the engine off, but it rumbles off the line smoothly until the clutch engages.

Even on a wide, open and otherwise empty track, getting to full throttle feels like an adventure. Pushing the throttle delivers a visceral thrill from the speed at which the engine reacts. There is no delay, just instant thrust, delivered at a rate that feels close to the immediacy of a high-end EV but continues to grow as revs rise. 

For much of my first stint, I’m short shifting, my brain ordering higher ratios in response to the noise and savagery well before the first of the change-up lights has illuminated. It’s only on the track’s longer straights that I can initially summon the discipline to hang on for the altitudinous redline, by which time the V12 is almost painfully loud, even through the padding of the helmet. The forces are such that the ERS button is an anti-climax: pressing it on the longest straight doesn’t add appreciably to the thrust.

It is also psychologically hard to keep accelerating to the ends of the longer straights, because the rate of change is so great that it becomes difficult for my brain to juggle the increasing speed with the obvious need to slow down. My early braking points prove embarrassingly cautious, given the power of the huge carbon-ceramic discs. But the brake pedal has a slight feel of deadness at the very top of its travel, limiting initial confidence, and you can feel its resistance lessening at the end of some bigger stops. With faith built, though, braking performance seems undiminished – and, to be fair to the car, it has done multiple stints on track before my drive.

A bigger surprise is the sensation of the engine starting to lose power as coolant temperatures rise to critical levels. The V12 downrates to protect itself when this happens, progressively reducing the redline as it does so. Changing up early for half a lap or so brings the redline on the digital tacho back up. When I return to the pit lane, Aston’s mechanics say the car is struggling with high ambient temperatures. 



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