For your drive only

A secret-agent inspired Aston Martin Vantage

When you think of James Bond, there is only one marque that comes to mind: Aston Martin. Ever since Sean Connery got behind the wheel of the DB5 in Goldfinger, to Daniel Craig driving the DB10 in Spectre, the two go hand in hand.

What is it?

The latest version of Mercedes-Benz’s variablespark ignition system for petrol engines. While many ignition systems rely on a single spark to ignite the mixture of fuel and air in the combustion chamber, the Multi-Spark Ignition (MSI) can fire the spark plug up to five times per power stroke.

Many of the German manufacturer’s engines are adopting the sophisticated system including its hero hand-built AMG 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, which powers a wide range of potent machines across Mercedes’ passenger and SUV line-up.

Twinsies

The virtues of multiple sparks are implemented well known. the Alfa idea Romeo for its first Grand Prix per combustion. car in 1914 with The two principle sparks is Twin still Spark in use engines in its modern-day but unlike the innovation, Alfa utilises

How does it work?

In all petrol engines, as the piston rises to the top of the compression stroke, the ignition system fires a spark to initiate a controlled burning of the air/fuel mixture. This means the spark plug has just one chance to start a good combustion process, which, under conditions, is a relatively simple process.

However, under certain conditions, such when the mixture is lean or the engine light, the vaporised fuel can be more difficult ignite, so the MSI has five shots at it. With spark, the combustion ‘kernel’ grows, allowing the flame front to spread to a greater area the combustion chamber for more efficient and consistent combustion.

If a single-spark system is like trying start a damp camp fire with a flint, the multi-spark ignition is the equivalent of using a Zippo.

With more conventional systems, the ignition coils have two entire engine revolutions to recharge for the next spark, but the MSI coils must be able to deliver all five sparks in one millisecond, which requires an incredibly high-energy system and specialised components.

Why does it matter?

For optimum combustion and power, a petrol engine prefers to burn a mixture of fuel and air a ratio of 14.7 parts of air to every one part of fuel – known as the stoichiometric ratio.

But in the quest for ever-more efficient engines, manufacturers have been experimenting with far leaner ratios, where there is less fuel for each part of air. Typically, lean mixtures are difficult to ignite and can cause potentially damaging ‘detonation’ where the combustion is violently fast, but the five sparks allow mixtures as lean as 23:1 – less fuel for the same power.

At full-throttle and under high engine loads, stoichiometric is still king but the MSI system is allowing Mercedes’ high-output engines to sip less fuel during low-load conditions, boosting fuel economy and lowering emissions, without compromising peak performance.

Fuel savings of two percent might sound like small fish, but that figure can be doubled in conjunction with the company’s stratified charge and direct fuel injection, says Mercedes. As ever-tightening emissions regulations loom, every drop counts.

So it’s no wonder that Bond is inspiring Aston Martin owners to modify their own rides to embody something that looks like it came straight from Q–branch, including the addition of Bridgestone’s new Potenza S007A performance tyres. Fitting.

This one-of-a-kind Vantage has had the secret agent treatment, with a respray to a unique ‘Grigio’ grey and the addition of a carbonfibre front lip, grille and rear spoiler.

But the real gains were made through a raft of handling enhancements, converting the Vantage from a comfortable sports cruiser to a sharp shooter through turns: Bilstein dampers, H&R lowering springs and Bridgestone Potenza S007A rubber, resulting in laser precision steering.

The Potenza S007A was introduced as Bridgestone’s flagship performance tyre when it launched. With improvements to responsiveness, new levels of stability for both every day and high-speed applications, heightened grip and cornering ability, improved braking capabilities and increased wear life compared to previous generation tyres, the S007A is ideal for high-end performance cars such as Aston Martins, Mercedes-AMGs and BMW M Series cars.