2022 Aston Martin Valkyrie May Be the Ultimate Wild Ride


Few cars have been as hotly anticipated as the Aston Martin Valkyrie. Or involved such a long wait. The first announcement that Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing would be working together on what was originally called the AM-RB 001 came all the way back in March 2016. Since then there have been the first renderings, confirmation of the Valkyrie name, announcements of the track-only AMR Pro and Spider variants, the sadly unrealized plans to take it to the races, an in-depth look at the Cosworth 6.5-liter V-12 that powers it, a tour of the configuration process, a simulator drive, and a real-seat experience at the 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed ​​shotgunning Aston’s then-CEO Tobias Moers. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing either, with mounting delays and a still-unresolved legal dispute over deposits with a Swiss merchant group.

Now, finally, we drove it.

Let’s start with the good news for adrenaline-hungry billionaires still waiting to take delivery: The finished car absolutely lives up to designer Adrian Newey’s promise that it will be the most extreme factory-built vehicle ever to wear license plates and faster than most genuine racing cars. And while our first experience was limited to the 3.36-mile Bahrain International Circuit, it was in a fully street-legal car on road tires.

Okay, so for US buyers, street legal is a misnomer, as the Valkyrie can only be imported under “Show and Display” requirements – so no commuting or using to pick up wood from Home Depot. But in Europe, Aston took on the considerable costs and complications of securing full homologation. This required the use of what design director Miles Nurnberger proudly touts as the world’s smallest and lightest rear number plate lamp, which sits at the end of the trailing sequential gearbox housing.

The Valkyrie’s need to accommodate human cargo was always a low priority in the packaging of the car, with Newey placing far greater importance on aerodynamic requirements. Although the passenger compartment is small, it could have been even smaller—Nurnberger recounts a meeting in which he managed to persuade the famed designer to free up an extra 8 millimeters of space (that’s 0.3 inches), ‘ a concession that won him a round. of applause from the engineering team. “Nobody could remember Adrian giving up more than 1 millimeter before,” says Nurnberger.

2022 aston martin valkyrie

Aston Martin

However, this concession did not create a spacious cabin; the Valkyrie is a car that is carried rather than put in. Getting in requires an inelegant shuffle over the sidepod and then collapsing into the carbon fiber racing seat. Once in place, a movable pedal box allows taller drivers to gain some legroom, but even with the seat’s modest amount of padding removed, an average-height driver’s helmet-clad head still hits the roof as soon as the door closes is.

The 6.5-liter V-12 is the standout, to no surprise. Indeed, it dominates the driving experience to the point of stealing every scene. There’s a pause after you press the start button on the steering wheel—then the engine revs for a few seconds to build up oil pressure before bursting into violent life. It’s noisy at 1000rpm, even through the stuffing of a helmet, and there’s about another 10,000rpm to go before it meets its limiter. But rolling off the pit lane is a surprisingly gentle process; there’s a launch control system but, left to its own devices, the Valkyrie begins to be powered solely by the 141-hp electric motor fed by a 1.7-kWh battery manufactured by Rimac and sandwiched between the V- 12 and the seven sit. -speed transmission. (With no reverse, backing up is always done electrically.) The clutch engages to connect the engine to the wheels shortly thereafter.

Our first laps on the track are mostly spent trying to acclimate to the brutality of the show. The Valkyrie is a car beyond mere numbers, however impressive the claimed 2.5-second zero-to-60 mph time and electronically limited 220 mph top speed sound. Those numbers are well within the frame of reference for hypercars, but the experience of the Valkyrie truly is not. It’s a car that makes a Koenigsegg One:1 look refined and understated.

Much of the sense of anarchy is due to the Valkyrie’s combination of noise and vibration when revving. The built-in gears that drive its camshafts are mere inches on the other side of the firewall, and reaching the altitude redline brings an almost painful cacophony. But it’s also thanks to the engine’s character and the immediacy of its responses, the complete lack of delay between pressing the accelerator and feeling the response. With a combined peak of 1139 horsepower working against a mass of less than 3000 pounds, the Valkyrie is blazingly fast. At the end of the track’s longest straight of 0.6 miles, the digital speedometer reads 300 km/h—186 mph—and it uses a conservative braking point. Yet subjectively it feels even faster than that.

2022 aston martin valkyrie

Aston Martin

We spent little time in the chassis’ Urban and Sport modes, both of which are intended for road use. Selecting the most aggressive Track function allows both the active suspension to lower the ride height and brings the option of a variable traction control setting. So beefed up, the Valkyrie soon proves that corners can be more than a break between the chance to unleash hell on the straights.

Grip is one area where the Aston doesn’t feel otherworldly. Riding on street legal Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires means there is less raw adhesion than there would be on slicks. The hydraulically assisted steering delivers crisp, unequivocal feedback, and turn-in is eager, but the traction control intervenes harshly when you try to overlap steering and throttle inputs. Still, it’s not funny or scary, even when pressed and with the traction control turned off. Higher speeds bring the extra assistance of downforce from the active wings and diffuser—Aston claims a peak of 2400 pounds of downforce at any speed from 135 mph. Faster turns can be taken at what feel like impossible speeds. (Fun fact: The actuated valves inside the large venturi tunnels are colloquially referred to by Aston mechanics as “cat flaps”.)

Even in the flattering surroundings of a racetrack and surrounded by mechanics, there were some problems. The car’s brake pedal had a dead spot at the top of its travel, and its resistance softened a few times during larger stops, though the actual level of deceleration felt undiminished. The Valkyrie’s engine also cut its redline when the coolant overheated. Aston blamed Bahrain’s high ambient temperatures, and driving half a lap in high gear cooled things down and restored the correct rev limiter.

While racetracks are great fun, they’re a poor analog for discovering how any car will handle the real world. The Valkyrie will always feel massively compromised on ordinary roads. It’s cramped, hot and loud enough to damage its occupants’ hearing without ear protection. Cosworth also says the engine needs to be rebuilt every 50,000 miles, a figure we hope some owners will see as a challenge rather than a threat. Yet none of this diminishes the appeal of what is certainly a top car, its many compromises drawn directly from its famous designer’s refusal to compromise on his vision. Which makes it a masterpiece.

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2022 Aston Martin Valkyrie
Vehicle type: mid-engine, mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, 2-passenger, 2-door coupe

Base: $3,500,000 (estimated in Europe)

DOHC 48-valve 6.5-liter V-12, 1,001 hp, 575 lb-ft + AC motor, 141 hp, 206 lb-ft (combined output: 1,139 hp, 682 lb-ft; 1.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack)
Transmission: 7-speed automatic manual transmission

Wheelbase: 109.0 inches
Length: 177.4 inches
Width: 75.6 inches
Height: 41.7 inches
Passenger volume: Barely ft3
Trunk volume: questionable ft3
Combat weight (C/D east): 2850 lbs.

60 mph: 2.3 sec
100 mph: 3.8 sec
1/4-mile: 7.7 sec
Top speed: 220 mph

Combined/City/Highway: Not homologated for US highway use

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European editor

Mike Duff has been writing about the motoring industry for two decades and calls the UK home, although he normally lives life on the road. He loves old cars and adventure in unlikely places, with career highlights including driving to Chernobyl in a Lada.