Car Enthusiast - click here to access the home page


 



First drive: Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual. Image by Max Earey.

First drive: Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual
Aston Martin V12 Vantage S makes good with some old technology.

   



<< earlier review     later review >>

Reviews homepage -> Aston Martin reviews

Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

In a paddle-shifted, digital world the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual is a brilliant reminder that old technology shouldn't be written off, certainly not with regards to driver appeal.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual
Price: £138,995
Engine: 6.0-litre V12 petrol
Transmission: seven-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, two-seat coupé
CO2 emissions: 343g/km
Combined economy: 19.2mpg
Top speed: 205mph
0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
Power: 573hp at 6,750rpm
Torque: 620Nm at 5,700rpm

What's this?

The Aston Martin V12 Vantage S, so nothing particularly new, then, only here there's a subtle, but crucial difference. The paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel are gone and instead there's a third pedal in the footwell and a stick in the transmission tunnel. How quaint, how antiquated, how bloody brilliant - especially given the head-nodding yawning frustration that the V12 Vantage S is with its robotised version of the same seven-speed transmission. The manual retains the same gearbox internals, without the ponderous robot, so the seven ratios require a dog-leg layout. Hence, first is down and back, second where first would more usually be and... well, you get the idea.

The rest is familiar, which means more overt looks of the V12 S, the Vantage lending itself well to a more confident streetfighter strut. We'd even concede that the optional yellow highlights work well, if only to ensure everyone knows this isn't one of the many more ordinary Vantages that have rolled down Aston's lines since it was introduced all those years back. The interior remains nicely finished, if frustrating in detail, the instruments all but unreadable, and the stereo/satnav lacking the intuitive operation or big screen ease of its rivals. Still, if you're complaining about getting lost, or looking for music to listen to, then perhaps a 6.0-litre V12 Aston Martin with 573hp isn't for you...

How does it drive?

The V12 Vantage S has always been a favourite here, despite the shortcomings of its paddle-shifted gearbox. That's been addressed in manual form, the addition of that stick and third pedal making us fall in love with the characterful brute even more. That is not to say its perfect; indeed, the shift itself you could never call particularly precise, the springing making it a tricky one to judge, however adept you might be. The thing is, it's kind of the making of it, and the V12's so damned flexible you can shrug off the occasional fluffed shift like you meant it. It also allows you to forget about that over and back dogleg first if you like. Try a bit harder though and the rewards are huge, not least as you can reach the upper revs of that mighty V12. It sounds glorious when doing so, cultured as a twelve should be, but not lacking in a slightly menacing undertone.

The engine might dominate, in a very good way, but the chassis's fine balance is difficult to ignore. Years of honing has seen Aston perfect the Vantage's dynamics; the steering, an old-school hydraulic system, is absolutely loaded with feel, and its speed and accuracy are never in question.

Traction is good too, though it's easy enough to play around with the V12's power, the chassis allowing plenty of entertaining oversteer if the mood takes you. It's all communicated beautifully and it's not a difficult car to drive, even if it demands you drive it properly. What's also impressive is the ride quality, which is supple, even on the heavily cambered, poorly surfaced roads around Aston Martin's base in Gaydon. All those prototypes you see running about here have yielded excellent results. The one concession to modernity (along with Apple CarPlay) is Aston's AMSHIFT system, which performs throttle-blipping on downshifts and allows flat shifts up the gearbox. It works perfectly well, but if you've bought this car then it's improbable you'll ever want to use it and would rather blip the throttle for yourself.

Verdict

A good car made brilliant by an average manual transmission, the V12 Vantage S is a glorious reminder that fast, digital response isn't always the best solution. It's so engaging, so involving and so damned fun that you can ignore - embrace even - the slightly difficult gear shift. The V12 Vantage S has always been a physical and exciting car, and going out with the new and in with the old Aston Martin has made it even more so. That manuals are going to be part of Aston Martin's future is a good thing indeed.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

2 2 2 2 2 Passenger Space

2 2 2 2 2 Luggage Space

3 3 3 3 3 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Kyle Fortune - 18 May 2016



  www.astonmartin.co.uk    - Aston Martin road tests
- Aston Martin news
- Vantage images

2016 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual. Image by Max Earey.2016 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual. Image by Max Earey.2016 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual. Image by Max Earey.2016 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual. Image by Max Earey.2016 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual. Image by Max Earey.

2016 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual. Image by Max Earey.2016 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual. Image by Max Earey.2016 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual. Image by Max Earey.2016 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual. Image by Max Earey.2016 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S manual. Image by Max Earey.








 

Internal links:   | Home | Privacy | Contact us | Archives | Old motor show reports | Follow Car Enthusiast on Twitter | Copyright 1999-2022 ©