With its awesome new V12 Vantage S, Aston Martin squeezes its biggest engine into its smallest car. The results are breathtaking, writes Road Test Editor, Howard Walker.
The Supercar world is changing. Fast. The ultimate, neck-snapping performance cars of tomorrow will have engines boasting a multitude of joules and watts, ohms and volts. Turbos spinning at the speed of light will add massive oomph to combustion engines not with 12, 10 or eight cylinders, but probably six or even four.
BMW’s radical new i8 Supercar? It’s powered by a teeny turbo three-cylinder hooked up to a huge electric motor to give a combined 360-plus horsepower and 0-to-60 sprinting in 4.3 seconds. McLaren’s jaw-dropping new P1 Hypercar? It has an electric motor to help juice the 3.8-liter nuclear reactor-like twin-turbo V8 to give a combined 903 horsepower. A hybrid McLaren with the same tech as a Prius? You better believe it.
Eva Longoria’s will ever change spark plugs! And there are no superchargers, turbochargers
or battery chargers needed to summon-up all 565 horses. Just 12 perfectly-formed
cylinders sucking air all by their lonesome.
Next to the sold-out One-77 Hypercar, this is Aston’s fastest, most potent street-legal projectile ever - a model that reflects the good ol’ boy hot-rodding philosophy of taking the biggest engine you can lay
your hands on, and squeezing it into the smallest, lightest, most compact body. In this case, it’s the V12 from the flagship Vanquish being forced into the petite Vantage two-door coupe.
It’s a salivating combo. For me, the Vantage is still one of the most intoxicatingly gorgeous sports cars on the planet. Perfectly formed with curves and creases sculpted by angels, standing still it looks like it’s punching through the air at 180. It’s an evolution of the previous-generation V12 Vantage S with just a few nips and tucks to justify a trade-up. That iconic Aston front grille now comes with either black carbon fiber or titanium mesh in place of the trad horizontal slats. At each corner there are new 10-spoke, 19-inch alloys.
Thankfully there’s a lot more substance to add to the style. Compared to the previous Vantage S, the new V12 packs an extra 45 horseys and 37 more torques. And maybe 5,000 more decibels!
There’s also a new adaptive suspension system from the big Vanquish that lets the driver adjust damping in three stages - normal, sport and track.
All awesome so far. Until you start to talk about the transmission. The last-gen Vantage S came with only one gear-swopping choice, a wonderfully precise six-speed manual. But, when developing this new version, Aston thought buyers might prefer an automatic. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just the choice of automatic that turned out to be less than stellar. They opted for a seven-speed single-clutch automatic from a racecar gearbox builder. Under anything other than pedal-to-the-metal acceleration, the shifts are lumpy, clunky, ponderously slow, and often downright unpleasant.
roads. But it sure is fun trying.
you can. Just to drive behind one of the world’s greatest engines. Before they start
cutting cylinders and bolting electric motors to it.
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