Aston Martin launches the new V12 Vantage S. But just how ‘new’ is this sports coupe?[Not a valid template]
Take a second to scan through our reviews of the new Vanquish, the Rapide and the new Rapide S, and you’ll notice a pattern: looks to die for and engine noise that will bring a tear to your eye but boasts the sat-nav system from an old Volvo.
Such has proven the case with a frustrating number of models to roll out Aston’s factory gates in Gaydon, UK: underneath bedroom poster looks lay outdated chassis and powertrains. Lop the lid off the DB9 and you’ll find an updated version of the VH platform used on the then-eight year old Jaguar XKR (both Ian Callum designs), while the original Vanquish’s temperamental semi-automatic gearbox won few friends. Underneath the DB7 was the chassis from a Jaguar XJS (which could trace its production back to 1975), plus a wood burning stove and a couple of smelting pots. Oh for some up-to-date tech and Aston sportscars could make some serious damage on the car culture scene.
Aston Martin remains trenchantly committed to its heritage, and rightfully so given its on-going centenary celebrations. In the Middle East in particular, where the marque is attempting to find its foothold again after several years of absence, this is crucial. Style and ‘the name’ are two of the biggest sellers in the GCC, and Aston has some catching up to do in that regard against the well-established Porsches, Ferraris, McLarens and Bentleys.
A fully stocked portfolio should help in that regard. In the past four years alone, Aston has unveiled a four-door sports saloon (the Rapide), a hatchback city car (the Cygnet), a near $1.5 million supercar (the One-77), a rekindled partnership with an Italian designer (the V12 Zagato), and its brand-new second gen flagship sports coupe (the Vanquish). There was also the Virage, but we all make mistakes.
Before that came the company’s re-invention with the DB9, the iconic beauty that put the British marque back on the map. Not only was it heart-stoppingly gorgeous but, thanks to a tauter chassis, extensive use of aluminium and Ford’s 6.0-litre V12, the new DB9 won fans quickly. Interest was through the roof, technical and financial clout from then-parent company Ford allowing for record numbers of Aston production and the increased sales figures to boot. An important step, but against the might of rivals Porsche (with the technical clout of Volkswagen and Audi behind it) and Ferrari (innovators on an annual basis thanks to its Formula 1 team), by comparison Aston’s headline coupe still felt old fashioned. An on-board infotainment system from the Ford spare parts bin and small back seats took the shine ever so slightly off the DB9’s immaculate finish.
The Ford era though is no more, into the breech stepping the Dar and Adeem consortiums headed by Prodrive and World Rally Championship legend David Richards. Four years, several new models, a rejuvenated GT racing programme and an expanding global portfolio later, Aston Martin may just about be ready to hit the modern nail on the head.
Take a closer look at the new V12 Vantage S. Beauty (naturally), Soul (of course) and Power, really quite a lot of power from a brand new AM28 5.9-litre V12 engine (although Aston labels it as a 6.0). 573hp to be precise, 63hp more than that delivered by its RS predecessor, and 457lb ft of torque, 37lb ft more than its forebear. Combined the new Vantage S chucks out a 330kph top speed and a 0-100kph time that’s yet to be confirmed. Call us cynical for not quite believing it just yet, but claims that the Aston Martin is ‘taking sports car performance to extremes’ may be on the money. Witness on the Vantage the new Aston Martin Racing-derived lightweight Sportshift III automated manual transmission, track-focused transaxle, three-stage adaptive damping (a first for any Vantage), more precise power steering and a new exhaust system. Leftovers from the Volvo and Ford parts bin are long gone. The company’s technical innovation demonstrates that the NEW Aston could – could – be just that.
FULL SPECIFICATIONS AVAILABLE ON PAGE 2