For decades, Porsche and Aston Martin have been manufacturers that hold the pleasure of driving as a core value of building cars.
Shortly after the excitement began to settle surrounding the launch of the Porsche 911 R, Aston Martin have announced the launch of the V12 Vantage S, with a seven-speed manual gearbox. First deliveries are expected in late 2016.
It shouldn’t be so exciting, but once something you take for granted is taken away, you begin to realise just much you miss it. So the thought of stirring a beautifully weighted mechanical transmission through each of the cogs and controlling the motion with a clutch pedal is one of the most thrilling fantasies a petrolhead could imagine; it’s kept me awake for nights on end.
If I have a moment of privacy, I can’t deny simulating the process of accelerating hard in 2nd, changing up into 3rd, stretching the blaring 6-litre V12 right up to 7,500rpm; then peeling off the throttle and leaning on the strong carbon ceramic brakes, while pivoting my right foot at the top of the brake pedal to roll onto the throttle and stab a perfect downchange and listen to the snap, crackle and pops on the overrun. Just like Porsche, the V12 Vantage S is fitted with technology called AMSHIFT – which is driver selectable – meaning an automated throttle blip occurs when changing down through the gears.
The manual V12 Vantage S has a classic dog-leg first gear positon, which makes sure the gears used most frequently are positioned in a double ‘H’ pattern. The seven-speed Sportshift III automated manual transmission, found in the GT3 race-cars is also available. Even though there is a choice of two gearbox options, both transmissions can deliver 62mph in 3.9 seconds and are capable of a 205mph top speed.
A new Sport-Plus pack option is available on the 2017 Model Year Aston Martin Vantage, which includes subtle interior and exterior styling enhancements and ten-spoke graphite lightweight alloy wheels. Five new body colours are available to choose from, which can be combined with a contrasting flash to the front grille lipstick, side sills, mirror caps and rear diffuser blades. Inside the car, there is the choice of black or grey upholstery with stripes and a wide range of contrasting stitching.
Although the technology behind automating some of the functions involved in driving are unbelievably clever and are more resilient to the forces which are applied to transmission components under load, it is great to know that the engineering departments at Aston Martin and Porsche are listening to their customers and putting their dreams into reality.