Traditionally, Astons have been many things. They've been luxurious be in, beautiful to look at, and expensive to buy. These famed GT cars have always been fast as well, but they've also been heavy and therefore not as quick as one might imagine. Aston has been adding some motorsports and supercar flare to its image over the last ten years, though, with a dedicated and impressive racing program and of course the seven-figure One-77 supercar that they brought out at the end of the last decade. Their latest version of the V12 Vantage continues that sportier trend with blistering performance.
The Vantage name has been used on Aston Martins for decades, and while it used to signify the higher performance version of a particular model, the modern version of the Vantage that was introduced in 2005 is the smaller, entry-level model aimed to lure buyers away from cars like the Porsche 911. This V8 Vantage gained almost universal praise for its drivability and stunning looks, so an encouraged Aston Martin brought out a hotter V12 version in 2009. ┬áThis car had the 510 horsepower twelve-cylinder motor from the bigger DBS, a new diffuser at the back, ceramic brakes, strategic uses of carbon fiber, and very visible vents in the hood. In 2011, Aston Martin unveiled an "S" version of the old V8 Vantage with more power and improved handling, so from that point everyone knew that it was only a matter of time before an "S" package would hit the twelve-cylinder car, and in May of 2013, it finally came. Priced at around $185,000, it sounds expensive and it is, but the regular V12 Vantage only costs $5,000 less, and with the "S" package you get oh so much more.
The reworked 6.0 liter twelve now makes 565 horsepower and 475 lb/ft of torque, which drives through the lightened seven-speed gearbox that you get in the V8 Vantage S. Aston Martin's CEO, Ulrich Bez, has said that the new Vantage S "brings our winning GT3 race formula to the road...It's the most pure, yet understated, driving machine we can imagine today." It certainly looks and seems as Dr. Bez has described it, and if you discount the aforementioned super-rare One-77, it is unquestionably top dog in terms of speed. It will hit sixty in 3.7 seconds and reach a claimed top speed of around 205 miles per hour. For the track-oriented driver, the car has three-stage adaptive damping to tune the handling. These modes, "Normal", "Sport", and "Track" offer a broad range suspension characteristics and govern the power steering input, while another "Sport" mode button on the center console alters throttle response, shift timing, and the exhaust note. It will therefore outrun anything in the company's current lineup. The Vantage has definitely come a long way from being the "baby Aston".