Currently reading: Exclusive: Aston Martin CEO on new DB12 and firm's next "big task"
Ex-Ferrari boss Felisa explains how Aston Martin is gearing up to enter super-luxury market

The new Aston Martin DB12 represents a giant leap forward from the DB11 and a vital change of emphasis for the embattled but ambitious Gaydon company. 

However, even more crucial than a model change has been the appointment, exactly one year ago, of 77-year-old Amedeo Felisa as Aston CEO. Italian-born Felisa ran Ferrari for eight successful and highly creative years until he retired in 2016, but he was persuaded back last year to replace former Mercedes-AMG chief Tobias Moers at Aston. 

Since then, it has become apparent that the management and leadership styles of the two men could hardly be more different. 

Whereas Moers was strident and combative (sparking resignations among key staff), Felisa has communicated a desire for market-leading standards by being mild-mannered and emollient: he was a popular leader at Ferrari, using an quarter-century’s experience in top car jobs to convince rather than to cajole. 

Aston martin db12 front three quarter

Speaking exclusively to Autocar, Felisa said he arrived when the DB12 was “about 80% done” but was on hand when crucial final decisions were being made. 

“We were being criticised for interior designs that weren’t different enough,” he said, echoing his designers’ view that supercar cabins had become too screen-based. 

“Critics said they saw too many Mercedes parts in our cars, so we decided to invest to make sure they had their own identity. 

“Our big task now is to move Aston Martin more into the super-luxury world without losing any Britishness. We’re working on that. I believe our quality is now very good and the dynamics of our new car will be another surprise. 

01 Aston martin dbx 707 rt 2022 lead driving front 0

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“Aston customers love their cars to have emotional driving characteristics. Our experience with DBX 707 has shown this clearly and has helped us develop DB12. 

Maybe in the beginning, the new car was a little too soft. But 707 is very good, very special and it helped us. I don’t usually like SUVs, but I do like the 707 – because it is something else.” 

Felisa said he is especially pleased with the DB12’s breadth of capability: it is hugely quick yet simple to drive in town. But how does he rate it against his Ferrari experience? 

“It is every bit as good as I hoped,” he said with a smile. “But there is always the chance to improve. We have other exciting models coming soon.”

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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