£142,620 Price range
Aston Martin’s engineers obviously thought that the regular V8 Vantage was too slow – so they shoehorned in a 6.0-litre V12 engine, lowered the suspension, and fitted carbon ceramic brakes; and lo! The Vantage V12 was born.
First released in 2009, the V12 Vantage received major updates in 2013, most notably an increase in power and the introduction of a new semi-automatic gearbox in place of the six-speed manual that featured previously. The result is an astonishingly accomplished car that delivers awesome performance and has the handling and grip to match. Testers are pretty much unanimous in their praise of the Vantage S.
It’s a dedicated sports car and makes no attempt to be a Grand Tourer too; this makes it hard-edged and focussed and, quite possibly, the “best of all modern Aston Martins”.
Aston Martin has announced the launch of a new V12 Vantage S model fitted with a seven-speed manual gearbox as a no-cost option. A selection of additional equipment will also be fitted to this new version.
Most popular: V12 S Sportshift
It’s cosy, beautifully trimmed and decadent inside with all the equipment that you’ll ever need. The V12 S shares much with the original V8 Vantage from 2003, though, so some of the details are starting to look a little dated, particularly when compared with the Vanquish.
Some of the switchgear – in particular the indicator stalks and electric seat switches – look a little cheap for a £138,000 car, while the controls for the hi-fi seem unnecessarily fiddly. Still, despite these minor points the cabin of the Vantage S is a very classy place to sit.
The optional carbon fibre and Kevlar seats are much more supportive than the standard versions, and save 17kgs each too, so are a wise buy in the view of the experts. Being a relatively low volume British Supercar, there is also plenty of scope for giving your Aston a truly bespoke feel inside thanks to an almost endless range of trim and colour options.
The V12 Vantage is a fantastic car to drive. Motoring journalists rave about how fast it feels, and how capably it handles the power, with one saying that “it’s one of those rare cars that feels so fast it’s actually a bit scary.” The car has a wonderful balance and agility, and it offers “enormous and immediate grip” alongside an unexpected suppleness; “seldom does a car hide its mass so well.”
Electrically adjustable dampers allow the driver to choose whether they would like a more sporting or comfort-oriented ride. Even in the sportiest mode the bumps in the road never make the car feel uncomfortable. The carbon ceramic brakes are retained from the previous V12 Vantage, and are described as “some of the best available today.”
It seems highly unlikely that anyone ever stepped out of the first V12 Vantage wishing that it had more power, but that hasn’t stopped Aston from giving the ‘S’ version a significant boost. The V12 Vantage S replaces the standard V12 Vantage and adds 55hp and 37lb ft of torque.
Complimenting this upgrade is the introduction of a seven-speed single-clutch paddle shift gearbox, in place of the six speed manual that the previous model offered.
These two changes have turned what was already a seriously quick performer into what is the fastest production car Aston Martin currently produces. The V12 Vantage S launches itself from 0-60mph in a claimed 3.7 seconds, while top speed is 205mph. When seasoned motoring journalists use expressions like “ready torrent of energy” and “significant urge at all times” you can be assured that you’ll never find it wanting for power.
It sounds gorgeous too, possessing a “wonderfully thunderous engine and exhaust sound”.
Although the engine upgrades have been a huge success, testers are less convinced by the introduction of the new semi-auto gearbox. While it gives gorgeous sounding throttle blips on downshifts, accelerating hard can cause it to feel “recalcitrant”, and at low speeds it can be “awkward and clunky.” It leaves many testers pining for the old six-speed manual, which offered much more driver involvement.
The V12 Vantage S it costs a heady £45k more than the V8 version, but while the V8 version is primarily intended to be a sporting GT car, the V12 S is a full-on supercar.
When compared to cars like the Porsche 911 Turbo and Audi R8 V10, the price looks perfectly reasonable, while next to the Ferrari 458 and Lamborghini Huracan, you could almost argue that the Aston is “cheap”.
Regardless of the competition, for those who must have the fastest Aston Martin currently for sale, the cost is almost irrelevant.
Aston Martin V12 Vantage S
The newest Aston Martin V12 Vantage S will be available with a manual gearbox option, replacing the existing semi-automatic with a seven-speed dog-leg unit. This no-cost option is accompanied by an upgraded infotainment system and Apple CarPlay integration as standard.
The Aston Martin Vantage V12 is wonderfully anachronistic; the installation of the V12 engine turns the Vantage from a comfortable, brisk Grand Tourer into an indecently fast super car – and adds a sprinkling of handling magic into the equation too. As a result many testers consider the V12 Vantage S to be “the best car Aston currently makes”.
It’s competition comes from several angles, including the Audi R8 V10, Porsche 911 Turbo and the Ferrari 458 Italia, but in reality they are poles apart in the way that they drive. Until the arrival of the Mercedes-AMG GT arrives, if you want a fast old-school sports car, then the Vantage V12 fits the bill perfectly.