Aston Martin's most powerful production car
The Aston Martin V12 Vantage S does unusual things to normally mild-mannered people.Damien Reid July 11, 2014
After a whirlwind of airport shuttles, hotel check-ins, a press conference slash dinner and grabbing the keys to a V12 Aston Martin, I was standing on the kerb of a quiet, nondescript neighbourhood street a couple of blocks back from the main strip in Palm Springs. Barely 24-hours earlier I was in my office in Dubai.
I’d just finished what could only be described as an epic blast through the mountains behind the wheel of the newest Aston Martin, the AED 850,000 V12, Vantage S and with the car cooling and the hot metal under the hood quietly ticking away as it seemingly grabbed its breath, I was admiring its beauty in what was probably the automotive equivalent of rolling over for a cigarette.
But the tranquility was abruptly interrupted by the roar fury of another V12 Vantage S flicking around the corner into view, its ‘Tang Yellow’ colour contrasting against the multitude of blonde brick houses and palm tree-lined sidewalks as the driver – clearly enjoying himself a bit too much – shrieked to a standstill with both windows down, singing wildly to Elvis Presley’s “A Hunk of Burning Love” which was blasting through the Bang and Olufsen entertainment unit. Obviously still buzzing from the endorphin rush you get when you hustle 565bhp of English exotic beauty through the blindingly quick set of bends that snake down the San Bernadino mountain range and into the stunningly scenic Coachella Valley, he jumps out, fists pumps the air and shouts to anyone who’d listen that he managed to get a paltry 5.8 miles per gallon which is easily the poorest fuel consumption this Aston has ever achieved, but indicates how hard he had kept the throttle buried for the past 90 minutes.
The well-groomed gent produced his smartphone and showed a collection of photos he took of the rear tyres with the shredded bits of rubber and feathering around the edges that’s a sure-fire indicator of the torture he’d been giving them on the way down the mountain.
Replace the car with a banged up Mustang and it could easily have been some freshman jock from the local college but instead it was Aston Martin’s very own CEO, Dr. Ulrich Bez. Car nut? You betcha!
And it shows in the product because Aston Martin is small enough where the influences of company chiefs can be directly felt in the product and the V12 Vantage S screams Dr. Bez under the trademark lines of its Ducati-riding design boss, Marek Reichman.
“This has been a special project of mine,” Dr Bez said. “From an engineering perspective it’s an engineering car and for me it’s a driver’s car. It’s like a tailored suit,” he said. This is the most driver-focused car in the Aston range and with the exception of the now extinct One-77, it’s also the fastest accelerating as it takes just 3.9 seconds to get from zero to 100kmh.
Gone is the option of the six-speed manual and in its place is a standard seven-speed automated manual that’s mounted in the rear for better weight distribution and operated by paddle shifts on the wheel.
I’ve always been a fan of a regular manual box with a clutch pedal but this is a gem, working faster and providing more flawless changes than the old cog-swapper could ever manage.
Linking the engine to the box is a cast aluminium torque tube which houses a lightweight carbon fibre prop shaft that’s connected to a twin-plate clutch. All that means is that the mechanical weight is spread over the car’s length giving it better handling characteristics which all helps it achieve its 328kmh top speed.
It’s an incredibly compact package which doesn’t allow room for rear seats but being a two-seater only, it gives the feeling of the car wrapping around you as you press on through some twisty roads. Looking at the car front on, you are immediately confronted by the fact that Aston’s trademark horizontal aluminium vanes across the grille are missing. Instead, its giant, toothless face resembles a heavyweight fighter with mouth guard in place who’s looking for some action. Funnily enough, that’s the feeling you get from behind the wheel as well.
Created to maximise airflow to the V12 engine, the new grille is inspired by the CC100 Speedster Concept which signals a new era of Aston Martin’s design language.
There’s also new lightweight forged alloy 10-spoke wheels and a subtle yet distinctive exterior graphics pack that includes a black painted roof and part-painted boot panel. Inside, as out, the new car has been styled to reflect its powerful nature with new-style seating with sport and carbon fibre lightweight options, revised stitching and detailing. There’s two leather grade options – Luxmill and semi-aniline – plus the possibility to include Alcantara which present V12 Vantage S buyers with plenty of trim choices as well as an optional Carbon Fibre interior pack that adds the material to the car’s facia and doors.
Dr. Bez has always worn his heart on his sleeve when it comes to his cars and has never been short of a word when sitting with journalists over a meal but his overt display of affection for this latest creation within the House of Aston could have replaced the entire press kit as it summed up the energy, emotion and character that makes up the most exciting car in the company’s fleet.