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We Tried Aston Martin's $80,000 Curved-Screen Racing Simulator

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 6/22/2021 Clifford Atiyeh
We checked out the most affordable new Aston Martin for some game play inside a Manhattan high-rise. © Aston Martin We checked out the most affordable new Aston Martin for some game play inside a Manhattan high-rise.
  • While in New York City to check out the newest location of Aston Martin's luxury housing developments, we were offered the chance to try out Aston's race simulator.
  • The AMR-C01 costs $80,000 and features a 49-inch curved display and the precise seating you'd get in the Aston Martin Valkyrie, although this is different from the Valkyrie driving simulator C/D tried out a few years ago.
  • Since we first told you about Aston's pricey AMR-C01 simulator in 2020, only 20 of the planned 150 have been sold, so there's still time to get one.

Honestly, what were you doing at this point last year? If, like us, you left your real car parked and put thousands of miles on a trove of imaginary cars streaming from a huge flatscreen, you were gaming. Nonstop. More than half the country turned to video games in 2020. And seemingly everyone bought a new webcam and monitor. With production chains dismantled and at-home offices clamoring for electronics, the spike in gaming made it socially acceptable for grown adults to play in their living rooms while shouting at other grown adults in their living rooms. We amassed over 60 million Forza Horizon credits and built a garage of 300 cars. It was an incredible time.

That brings us to the ultimate driving game time-suck available today, the Aston Martin AMR-C01, an $80,000 carbon fiber Jet Ski–like device that will park inside the homes of the world's wealthiest gamers. Unlike a real Aston, the AMR-C01 is best sampled after a racquetball match, a cigar on the terrace, and some very old bottles of cognac. It's a party, and as every gamer knows, the best parties are always indoors.

aston martin © Aston Martin aston martin
a close up of a sign: Forza Horizon 4: Standard Edition - Xbox One / Windows 10 [Digital Code] © amazon.com Forza Horizon 4: Standard Edition - Xbox One / Windows 10 [Digital Code]

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Inside a very dark room in a very expensive apartment building in lower Manhattan, we tried our hand at Laguna Seca behind the wheel of a Vantage GT4, and then the AMR-One, within the immersive Assetto Corsa. This is not Forza, so instead of collecting points for bashing an Aston into a stone wall, Assetto punishes you any time a tire touches dirt. It's violent. Let go of the yokes as the GT4 breaks into a slide, and the powerful rear-wheel-drive car snaps left to right and left again. Tank slappers like these are accurately drilled into your knees. Ow. You're never supposed to white-knuckle a race car, but you can't afford too light a touch. The drilled metal brake pedal operates the same way. It won't bite until you're deep and deliberate with the stroke.

Games like Assetto aren't fun, really. Project Cars, iRacing, and other motorsport titles are training pads for real race car drivers who log hundreds of miles before they arrive for Friday practice. Darren Turner, a former Aston Martin factory driver who races a private GT4 in the British GT Cup, helped fine-tune the digital car we're slicing through Corkscrew. But the sense of speed is more impressive than the physics. The AMR-C01 uses a single 49-inch curved display like a miniature IMAX movie. The rakish A-pillars and windshield fill the periphery. The in-car view wraps the dash around the physical steering wheel. We've driven sims that tack multiple displays onto a metal cage. The hard cuts slice the image across the panels. No good.

a screenshot of a video game: aston martin curv © Aston Martin aston martin curv

Getting into the AMR-C01 is an exercise that's almost too arduous for a living-room toy. The high carbon sill and rigid bucket seat (at the same fixed angle as in the upcoming Valkyrie) require a limber frame and some ungraceful movements. Powered fore/aft adjustments for the seat ensure a snug fit. They're on the console, next to the kill switch with the red cover. Bathroom breaks will need to wait. And anyone over six foot two will stand back and watch. Tall people don't fit well in real exotic cars or simulated ones.

logo: aston martin © Aston Martin aston martin

The idea of an Aston-branded simulator started between Turner and Aston's chief designer Marek Reichman. The chassis comes in any of Aston's racing liveries or factory paints, while the seat upholstery is available in any color leather or microsuede. The etched Aston badge on the nose is another Valkyrie touch.

"The idea was to have something that's beautiful," says James Guess, who manages Base Performance Simulators, the British company that will help build only 150 examples. It's marketed using the name Curv Racing Simulators.

The AMR-C01 can run any Windows-based racing game, and there's a wireless keyboard and trackpad that fits into a handy slot in the chassis. Hook it up to a surround sound stereo and you'd never see the light of day. It's not quite the Red Bull Racing simulator we drove that Aston Martin used to develop the Valkyrie, but such a rig wouldn't fit so neatly in a luxury apartment.

a close up of a computer: aston martin badge © Aston Martin aston martin badge

However, the hardware beneath the Aston's silky skin isn't quite top shelf. The 120-Hz monitor runs at 2K resolution, not even 4K or the 8K of the best gaming screens. The graphics card, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, is significantly outpaced by the 3080 and 3090 chip sets. The Intel processor is the older i7, not the bleedingly fast 10-core i9. Many racing games haven't yet touched the limits of these super silicon wonders, and yet in a short time, the AMR-C01 will be lapped by faster rigs built by home gamers at a fraction of the price. Guess thinks the computer hardware wouldn't fit inside, since the majority of space accommodates the gamer's legs and feet. But then again, an Aston Martin is always about more than the latest tech.

So far, only 20 Aston sims have shipped. Meanwhile, Guess is racing a real Aston alongside Turner that is currently second in the championship. Sometimes the real thing has to be experienced outside.

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