Aston Martin Debuts the Vantage for North America
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Aston Martin Debuts the Vantage for North America

By JIM MOTAVALLI
Fri, Mar 22, 2024 8:41amGrey 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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Is ‘Rizz’ the Secret to Getting Ahead at Work?

Whether you call it charisma, charm or magnetism, some people seem like naturals. Good news: It can be learned.

By Rachel Feintzeig
Mon, Jul 22, 2024 4 min

Great leaders have it. Gen Z has a new word for it. Can the rest of us learn it?

Charisma—or rizz , as current teenage slang has anointed it—can feel like an ephemeral gift some are just born with. The chosen among us network and chitchat, exuding warmth as they effortlessly hold court. Then there’s everyone else, agonising over exclamation points in email drafts and internally replaying that joke they made in the meeting, wondering if it hit.

“Well, this is awkward,” Mike Rizzo, the head of a community for marketing operations professionals, says of rizz being crowned 2023 word of the year by the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s so close to his last name, but so far from how he sees himself. He sometimes gets sweaty palms before hosting webinars.

Who could blame us for obsessing over charisma, or lack thereof? It can lubricate social interactions, win us friends, and score promotions . It’s also possible to cultivate, assures Charles Duhigg, the author of a book about people he dubs super communicators.

At its heart, charisma isn’t about some grand performance. It’s a state we elicit in other people, Duhigg says. It’s about fostering connection and making our conversation partners feel they’re the charming—or interesting or funny—ones.

The key is to ask deeper, though not prying, questions that invite meaningful and revealing responses, Duhigg says. And match the other person’s vibes. Maybe they want to talk about emotions, the joy they felt watching their kid graduate from high school last weekend. Or maybe they’re just after straight-up logistics and want you to quickly tell them exactly how the team is going to turn around that presentation by tomorrow.

You might be hired into a company for your skill set, Duhigg says, but your ability to communicate and earn people’s trust propels you up the ladder: “That is leadership.”

Approachable and relatable

In reporting this column, I was surprised to hear many executives and professionals I find breezily confident and pleasantly chatty confess it wasn’t something that came naturally. They had to work on it.

Dave MacLennan , who served as chief executive of agricultural giant Cargill for nearly a decade, started by leaning into a nickname: DMac, first bestowed upon him in a C-suite meeting where half the executives were named Dave.

He liked the informality of it. The further he ascended up the corporate hierarchy, the more he strove to be approachable and relatable.

Employees “need a reason to follow you,” he says. “One of the reasons they’re going to follow you is that they feel they know you.”

He makes a point to remember the details and dates of people’s lives, such as colleagues’ birthdays. After making his acquaintance, in a meeting years ago at The Wall Street Journal’s offices, I was shocked to receive an email from his address months later. Subject line: You , a heading so compelling I still recall it. He went on to say he remembered I was due with my first child any day now and just wanted to say good luck.

“So many people say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a good memory for that,’” he says. Prioritise remembering, making notes on your phone if you need, he says.

Now a board member and an executive coach, MacLennan sent hundreds of handwritten notes during his tenure. He’d reach out to midlevel managers who’d just gotten a promotion, or engineers who showed him around meat-processing plants. He’d pen words of thanks or congratulations. And he’d address the envelopes himself.

“Your handwriting is a very personal thing about you,” he says. “Think about it. Twenty seconds. It makes such an impact.”

Everyone’s important

Doling out your charm selectively will backfire, says Carla Harris , a Morgan Stanley executive. She chats up the woman cleaning the office, the receptionist at her doctor’s, the guy waiting alongside her for the elevator.

“Don’t be confused,” she tells young bankers. Executive assistants are often the most powerful people in the building, and you never know how someone can help—or hurt—you down the line.

Harris once spent a year mentoring a junior worker in another department, not expecting anything in return. One day, Harris randomly mentioned she faced an uphill battle in meeting with a new client. Oh!, the 24-year-old said. Turns out, the client was her friend. She made the call right there, setting up Harris for a work win.

In the office, stop staring at your phone, Harris advises, and notice the people around you. Ask for their names. Push yourself to start a conversation with three random people every day.

Charisma for introverts

You can’t will yourself to be a bubbly extrovert, but you can find your own brand of charisma, says Vanessa Van Edwards, a communications trainer and author of a book about charismatic communication.

For introverted clients, she recommends using nonverbal cues. A slow triple nod shows people you’re listening. Placing your hands in the steeple position, together and facing up, denotes that you’re calm and present.

Try coming up with one question you’re known for. Not a canned, hokey ice-breaker, but something casual and simple that reflects your actual interests. One of her clients, a bookish executive struggling with uncomfortable, halting starts to his meetings, began kicking things off by asking “Reading anything good?”

Embracing your stumbles

Charisma starts with confidence. It’s not that captivating people don’t occasionally mispronounce a word or spill their coffee, says Henna Pryor, who wrote a book about embracing awkwardness at work. They just have a faster comeback rate than the rest of us. They call out the stumble instead of trying to hide it, make a small joke, and move on.

Being perfectly polished all the time is not only exhausting, it’s impossible. We know this, which is why appearing flawless can come off as fake. We like people who seem human, Pryor says.

Our most admired colleagues are often the ones who are good at their jobs and can laugh at themselves too, who occasionally trip or flub just like us.

“It creates this little moment of warmth,” she says, “that we actually find almost like a relief.”

MOST POPULAR
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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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