Bursting out of the gates of Gaydon like a bat out of hell is the exquisite and esteemed British sports car that has gained the respect of many automotive enthusiasts and aficionados. Defined by flawless design, a venerable 6.0-liter V12 powerplant, new 7-speed Sportshift III transmission and hand-crafted materials, Aston Martin’s 2015 V12 Vantage S has become the automaker’s top accelerating vehicle outside of the One-77 hypercar. It’s powerful, it’s cunning and it’s available for your eyes only early 2014.
The V12 Vantage chronicles came to life in 2009 and took on a life of their own as drivers welcomed the shorter and lightweight Aston Martin (AM) with enthusiasm. In fact, it had become so popular and characteristically reliable that Aston Martin Racing would inevitably promote this platform as the DNA of their Vantage GT3 racecar. The transformative racer has been very successful on the circuit winning time after time in the GT Championships. Its stats in 2012 were akin to those of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning as it took home 2 championship wins, 18 number 1 spots and 30 podium finishes in a cadre of series including Britcar 24 Hour, Le Mans Festival, Malaysian Super Series, International GT Open and British GT. After all, Aston Martin was born and bred in motorsports. It’s an essential component of their 100 year heritage.
With racing affixed within the company’s bloodline, AM ascertained that Automotive Rhythms would experience the palpable performance and defining new technologies of the V12 Vantage S on none other but a race track. Rightfully so, Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR) would become our home for a day to evaluate the coupe’s 3.7-second 0 to 60 mph sprint time while wishing we could tap its 205 mph top speed. However, there was not enough backstretch to accomplish that mission. Though the 2.034 mile 11-turn road course and 1/4 mile concrete drag strip was perfect for the rapid acceleration needed and agility to handle the track’s directional changes, high-speed corners and chicane. Simply stated, the V12 Vantage S is the LeSean McCoy of sports cars! It alters direction swiftly, increases speed rapidly, powers through resistance affectively and stops aptly just like the Philadelphia Eagles’ star running back.
Starting at $184,995, the V12 Vantage S sets itself apart from the outgoing V12 Vantage in more than a few ways beginning with the technical stats. Its current 565 horsepower rating has been increased from 510 horsepower, torque jumps from 420 lb-ft to 456 lb-ft, 0-60 mph has been lowered from 4.1 seconds, a new 7-speed Sportshift III AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) is all new and replaces the prior 6-speed manual, 3-stage Adaptive Damping System (ADS) is now part of the Vantage lineup, and the vehicle inherits the breathtaking exhaust system from the One-77. Sonically, Aston Martin compares to opera houses when it’s time to demonstrate the sound of music. “The new V12 Vantage S is our most extreme Vantage to date – engineered to bring race car performance and technology to the open road,” stated Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ulrich Bez. “Learning from our successes on the track feeds the development of this type of car and I’m proud to launch such an exciting sports car in this, our centenary year.” As Dr. Bez stated, racing improves the breed and you see elements of the race cars finding their way onto the road cars – the subtle rear aero on V12 Vantage S for instance is a direct lift from the race car.
Thus, the most riveting performance exercise was showcased through the aforementioned ADS. The objective of the assessment was to compare the vehicle’s driving dynamics and mannerisms in Normal, Sport and Track mode since each subsequently increases vehicle stiffness. The system reads the throttle and brake position, steering wheel rotation, and vehicle speed to help the driver adjust for better grip depending on what inputs are needed. For example, in Normal mode the V12 Vantage S was a bit relaxed around turns while Sport mode allowed for gutsier and tighter turns-ins at faster speeds. But the most salient natural born thrill was the torque which pinned me to the sculpted leather sports seat upon acceleration out of every turn. Like many modern sports cars, the V12 Vantage S hones both human and beastly character traits for every style of driving. Tutelage came from the great Les Goble who is a performance driving executive for Aston Martin and current racecar driver. Les taught Daniel Craig how to handle an Aston Martin DBS for the Bond films.
One of the key skillsets on the track is the vehicle’s perseverance and ability to cope with massive amounts of power shifts and braking. And it accomplishes every task feverishly and without difficulty. On the drag strip for example AM demonstrated how the gearbox automatically downshift matches the proper gear when braking by holding just the left paddle shifter on the intelligent AMT. Also, holding just the right paddle returns you to drive mode. Speaking of brakes, the V12 Vantage S is equipped with a carbon ceramic disc package for grade-A functionality under high-speed duress. A vehicle generating that level of heat dissipation requires brakes that reduce or entirely prevent fade. Aston Martin said they hosted several track days without changing the setup.
I do believe every auto journalist on site was enamored by the physical transitions of the latest Vantage, with the most poignant represented by the enhanced grille design replete with either carbon fiber or titanium silver mesh. The sole basis of the new design was to allow more airflow to the engine. The aluminum, magnesium, alloy, composite and steel body sits on light 19” 10-spoke rims outfitted in Pirelli rubber with the option of red, black or yellow painted calipers. Opting for the external Carbon-Fiber Pack will aesthetically enhance your Aston Martin further.
Situate yourself inside the remarkable cockpit of the V12 Vantage S and transition your expectations with its amazing deliverables. Custom crafted leathers and cross-stitching to match the exterior hue appeases all sensory emotions, while new infotainment and driver safety technologies settle you with a piece of mind. It’s a new car for a brave new world!