The statement “Aston Martins are the most beautiful cars in the world” is a complete and utter joke given the current state of the company. No matter what people say, sales figures reflects how people think of the vehicles, if it is indeed the beautiful car in the world then it should be selling like hotcakes. After six years of loss, it is definitely safe to say that Aston Martins are not the most beautiful cars in the world.
Credit must be given where it is due: Aston Martin was doing very well in the decade of 2000. The designs of that era were defined by confusion and uneasiness. It was the first time major car makers were moving away from the boxy Japanese brand inspired designs and into more rounded designs. New sets of safety regulations were also being introduced. As a result of those two things, car designs suffered major identity crises as they moved precariously into the new paradigm. Surely the cars were not that bad during that era, but they certainly have aged as gracefully as denim jackets and mullets. This was the era in which Aston Martin stood out the most when its styling and performance allowed it to compete with other supercars convincingly and was probably one of the best looking front engine sport coupes.
This trend did not last for the world around Aston Martin was moving faster than they can keep up and as soon as the 2010s rolled around Aston Martin has lost its ability to compete with other supercars convincingly. This is all due to the simple fact that Aston Martin cannot find a stable identity, it does not know whether it is a luxury car or a performance car. Performance cars in the 2010s underwent radical restyling and performance upgrades while luxury cars stepped up in marketing. This all leaves Aston Martin in the dust because while Aston tries to be a sporty luxury coupe it doesn’t have the radical looks, the ridiculous performance, and the established reputation of other luxury cars (since Aston Martin is always trying to associate with and market themselves as performance rather than luxury). In sum, due to the stubbornness of Aston Martin, the company does not have an established identity which ultimately leads to their current cost cutting state.
The partnership with Mercedes AMG is in no way justified given how it is just a cost cutting measure. The argument of efficiency and just using what is already great is not valid because such measures won’t be necessary in the first place if Aston Martin was making a profit and weren’t dumping millions into “hyper cars” that won’t turn profit. Surely it is noble to pursuit something for the sake of motorsport and not just for profit, but others like Porsche and Lamborghini are doing without putting their entire company in jeopardy. At this point, what Aston is doing is not a noble pursuit but is just poor financial planning.
Poor financial decisions are just the start because the product planning is equally at fault for the current state of Aston Martin. A quick look at comparable brands will reveal that Aston Martin stands in the worst position possible. Astons do not meet the requirements and do not want to lean towards the performance super cars that are dominated by Lamborghini, Ferrari, and McLaren. Conversely, Aston Martins are too sporty to be associated with the luxury brands: Bentley and Rolls Royce. Finally, Aston Martin is not exclusive enough to be considered special one off cars (even though they clearly want to be considered as one, see One-77, Taraf, and Vulcan) such as Pagani and Lykan. So we arrive at the crux of the issue and that is Aston Martin lacks a selling point and selling power due to the identity issue. Performance cars relies on unattainable performance data and their ostentatiousness, luxury brands relies on their established reputations and complete (for the most part) disregard for any performance for the sake of comfort, and special one off brands literally means that they do not have a mass production, relatively speaking, line up on sale so the rarity of the brand is the selling point. Without specialization, Aston Martin will only have a small chuck of each market which doesn’t allow Aston to stay competitive.
Therefore it is clear that the next step for Aston is to find a direction and stop wasting money. New designs are also getting stale because Ian Callum is pretty formulaic at this point and the new F-type has all the same key elements as Aston Martins.
However the future is bright because the Vulcan and the Valkyrie can at least provide some new and interesting design cues for Aston to use.