The sound, oh my god, the aural bliss. I have to admit, there was a moment when the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S was screaming its head off and I had a warm glow in my nether regions. The feeling it evoked is something I'd normally reserve only for Scarlett Johansen. Such is the magical swan song V12 Vantage S. Aston Martin have pulled out all stops to bid farewell to a model that's been in production for 11 years and its place as a future classic is certain.
Has it really been 11 years? The Vantage still looks every bit as delectable as it did when it was first released, the baby Aston's shape is timeless. With the all new Vantage just around the corner, Aston Martin is on a mission to prove that a true enthusiast car is not just about the numbers and that technology for technologies sake does not necessarily make the best car.
It's why the V12 Vantage S shines, it brings together a perfect blend of the old and the new to deliver a near perfect driving experience. If you've kept up on the blurb with the Vantage, you'll know that it's always been highly praised and being that it is the entry point of the Aston experience certainly doesn't mean you are short changed. Widely touted as the Aston to have, the GT that's perfectly useable as daily driver, yet capable of annihilating tarmac like few others. All journo's alike agree, the only downside to the Vantage equation has been the self-shifting 7 speed transmission, never having really suited the personality of an otherwise cracking GT. The Sportshift (Sports Automatic Single Clutch) is clunky, dim-witted and recalcitrant. What makes the 2017 V12 Vantage S so special, it's fitted with a 7 speed manual transmission. Yes, you read that right, this is a 3 pedal rig, not only that but it's setup as a dogleg just like the racers of old. First is down and to the left. The idea being that when you're on it, your gear changes remain in the traditional 'H' pattern making for quicker changes.
While in terms of absolute performance it may not be as fast as the current crop from Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini, 0 to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds is nothing to sneeze at, and a top speed of 330km/h you'll never see the upper limits of what the car is capable of on a public road.
The Vantage V12 S as a manual and therefore less about the technology and more about the drive, which has always been Aston's take. Knowing you are in charge of 565hp and not the cars dynamic systems may be a daunting proposition as the Vantage seems to be happier going sideways rather than straight... but man, what fun you'll have while you're at it. This doesn't mean the Vantage is not fast - it's plenty fast. The short and close ratio gears mean rapid fire changes require more input from the driver and the resulting manic staccato cacophony will have you screaming like a giddy school girl on a roller coaster... and you'll be wanting more.
The Vantage S will break away with little provocation but you can hang onto the slide just as well as anything the Tokyo drift club has to offer. Ownership may have to factor in an ongoing tyre budget.
Dynamically, it's relatively basic in its execution, without sophisticated brake distribution, torque vectoring, fancy differentials or computer wizardry. It's a real sports car aimed at the enthusiast driver and could well be the last analogue GT. This car just begs to be pushed and if you have the skill you'll be duly rewarded with an experience that is undiluted.
It's the direct connection to the car that has it stand out, there is nothing artificial about it, the induction roar is epic, the feedback through the steering is sublime, the rack telegraphs your inputs and what's happening with the car with an alacrity that is sadly missed in the electrically assisted setups we see in other cars today. The weight and action of the clutch pedal, whilst not light, is smoother than you'd expect from channelling that much power. The ride is on the firm side, but it's a good compromise for the performance on offer and the throttle response is exquisite.
Shortfalls? Well it is based on an 11 year old platform, the interior space and ergonomics are definitely dated, also the purity of its exterior styling, depending on your taste loses something with the vents in the bonnet which are required to keep the V12 cool. But none of this matters once you're behind the wheel. It's not perfect but it just may be a perfect driver's car.
If I could afford one, I'd have one in an instant. The 'emotion control device', which is what Aston Martin calls the ignition key, sums it up nicely... the V12 Vantage S had control over my emotions the instant I laid eyes on it.
Engine: All-alloy, quad overhead camshaft 48-valve, 5935 cc V12
Max Power: 420 kW (571 PS/563 bhp) at 6650 rpm
Max Torque: 620 Nm (457 lb ft) at 5500 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed Manual transmission with AMSHIFT
Brakes: Ventilated Carbon Ceramic Matrix discs, 398 mm diameter with six-piston monobloc calipers front, 360 mm diameter with four-piston monobloc calipers rear
Wheels: 19" 10-spoke forged alloy Liquid Silver painted wheels, Front: 9 x 19" Pirelli P Zero Corsa 255/35 ZR19 Rear: 11 x 19" Pirelli P Zero Corsa 295/30 ZR19
Acceleration 0 to 100km/h (62mph): 3.9 seconds
Top speed: 330km/h (205mph)