2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S – First Drive

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It was three years ago I purchased my first taste of any V12 Vantage. That was the first time Aston Martin shoehorned its biggest engine into its smallest car, and it was mated to your six-speed manual gearbox. Fast forward to today and we’re getting our first taste of Aston’s latest incarnation of the same vehicle: the V12 Vantage S.

After 36 months, you expect change and the Vantage delivers. Fortunately, the company didn’t stray not even close to its winning combination of striking good looks, both inside and out. It’s also provided a more powerful V12 engine.

In reality, Aston Martin managed to squeeze another 55hp and 37 lb-ft to yourWhen first introduced, the V12 Vantage only came with a manual gearbox, however the V12 Vantage S has only a rear/mid-mounted Sportshift llI seven-speed automated manual transmission with electronic shift-by-wire control system. That’s a long-winded method to describe one particular-clutch semi-automated transmission…

During spirited driving, the Vantage S feels much better than the original. They have great steering feel and weight, quick turn-in, incredible front-end grip (far more than you expect) and an engine that pulls hard. It’s eager to rev and encourages quick shifts from the new transmission at redline.

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With all the current front grip, it’s super easy to kick out the rear-end if you’re a little too aggressive with the throttle exiting a corner, which can be always a good thing. In stop-and-go traffic, or just cruising around town, though but my issue with the Vantage S comes not when revving out the melodious V12 on the canyon run. Having to stop for lights and signage is where the new transmission shows its weakness.

The gearbox caused us to laugh on several occasion while we discovered the way it works in daily driving conditions. When pulling away from a stop sign or light, the clutch engages slowly. In reality, you can hear and feel it slipping. So, when the shifts happen, unless you push yourself in to the seat, your body and head bob forward and back with each shift. What seemed funny in the beginning was soon incredibly annoying, since this is exactly how the car will probably be driven 95% of the time. For me, this became definitely an agreement-breaker.

Since Aston Martin claims it can’t accommodate a dual-clutch trans in the car, please just give me either a traditional auto or the manual they used in the very firstAlong with the limited gear shifting options, the V12 Vantage S only comes along with carbon-ceramic brake rotors. These aren’t exactly cheap to put and, in my opinion, are completely unnecessary to the V12 S. Good old steel rotors with sports pads would be over adequate to many situations. Since the V12 S will rarely see a track, there’s no need for them, although a track-oriented car can make a case for carbon-ceramic brakes.

The brakes are wasted on multiple levels: they’re more expensive to fit, more to service and, when not hot, tend to be grabby. They’re also noisy, which isn’t something most Aston Martin buyers will appreciate.

Change is a necessity, preventing stagnation, but not all change is great. And in the case of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S, we now have great enhancements made to the styling, as well as the extra power is always appreciated, but the transmission was a bad decision. It’s outdated technology and almost ruins a vehicle that looks, sounds, otherwise and drives beautifully.