“Hammering down the autobahn at 302km/h and the V12 Vantage is rock solid, I mean it’s not moving a single millimetre. Yes, this is the best car Aston Martin has ever made”
It was always going to be a good thing when the boss of a car company likes to go racing in the company Vantage. No matter what the performance is out of the box, they will almost always want more. In this case a lot more, four cylinders more.
The hand-built, 6.0-litre, V12 engine is literally shoehorned into Aston’s smallest and lightest car, and while that might sound like a little too extreme for a bespoke English sports car, take it from me, I probably won’t be driving the V8 Vantage again.
Don’t get me wrong, the 4.7-litre V8 is a highly capable machine, but nothing beats the industrial grade torque output of an Aston Martin V12, borrowed from the DBS for those no nonsense overtakes.
I want to say that this car is hard-core and more for the serious enthusiast, but that would be selling it a long way short. It’s just too easy to drive to be positioned as a car for those track day junkies.
This is the everyday supercar and quite simply one of the best sports cars in the world right now.
Anyone who is a half decent driver will immediately feel at home in the driver’s seat of the V12 Vantage, and I don’t mean just driving to the shops and back.
More like you’ll be hitting the rev limiter time and time again, that is, until you get used to swapping cogs just shy of 7000rpm.
And go ahead and order the optional carbon-fibre and Kevlar hand-trimmed seats with Alcantara inserts (not the leather), as they’ll allow you to surgically dissect winding roads at racetrack speeds with complete and utter poise.
They’re extra light too, about eighteen kilograms less than the standard pews and yet amazingly, they’re comfortable.
The venue for this launch is Nurburgring, the Green Hell, as represented on the thousands of green T-shirts race fans were wearing, is on the edge of Germany’s picturesque Mosel valley and home to one of the toughest endurance races on the planet, the 24 Hour Nurburgring.
Each lap is a staggering 23 kilometres with no less than 76 corners (many of them blind) with the added problem for drivers, of the possibility of different weather conditions at each end of the track.
It’s also the home of Aston Martin’s new test centre, which is literally trackside and should mean a shorter and more intense development program for future models.
As if putting over three-hundred high revving kilometres on a spanking new V12 Vantage wasn’t enough, when one of the PR’s asked if I’d like to go upstairs to have a look at “something special”.
You can pretty much guess what sat up there on its own in a showroom on the far side of the building.
Seeing Aston’s One-77 in the flesh for the very first time produces serious sensory overload.
It’s breathtakingly beautiful and not a single magazine (EVO included) has come anywhere near close to properly portraying just how extraordinary this car really is.
After a relatively short briefing on how the engineers were able to wave a magic wand, and drop a V12 into an engine bay built for a V8 while only gaining 50kg when the engine weighs another 100kg, we couldn’t get to our chosen car fast enough.
I was partnered up with the quick steering editor of South African magazine Top Car, as we were both keen to get on the throttle and get some space between us and the next guy.
After a quick walk around the car, its obvious the Vantage is still a Vantage, despite the fact that a big V12 lurks under the bonnet. Aston Martin have been careful not to go fooling with their pure bred DNA in that regard.
It just looks tougher, the four heat removing carbon-fibre flutes on the subtle bonnet bulge also provide front end down force, as does the front splitter, which is also crafted from this exotic material.
I can’t help notice the oversized carbon ceramic brake rotors, get these things nice and warm and you’ll have to recalibrate your braking point – much later.
Those boffins at Gaydon have thought it all through on this car. For example, I didn’t think lowering the ride height by just fifteen millimetres was nearly enough, but it is when you can traverse problematic driveways with the ease of a family sedan.
As I drop into the carbon-fibre seats (they are fully adjustable – electric of course) and lock onto the race car style Alcantara steering wheel, I’m already thinking about missing the first driver change point and blasting on through to Bad-Bertrich (famous for its healing waters and delicious well-being drink).
I haven’t driven a Vantage for a while but the driver set up and positioning is so perfect, that it already feels like my daily driver.
Clutch in (its playfully light), brake on and insert the slightly fiddly but jewellery-like fob, and it all sounds quite civilised, if not slightly up-tempo.
It’s pretty much DBS kit inside the “V12” cockpit, including that enormous six-speed alloy shifter, which seems to require less effort than I previously recall.
I’m also starting to doubt whether I should have mentioned my bias towards paddle shifters in a conversation with Aston Martin’s chairman Mr David Richards the other day, so good is this transmission.
Where heading towards the village of Daun and annoyingly, I keep hitting the rev limiter, due mostly to how freely this engine spins and my lack of attention and aural induced trance.
There’s a sport button somewhere down there on the console, but the Vantage is carrying terrific speed through some particularly tight curves, and it’s doing it with consummate ease.
Even back-to-back hairpins with the power on early, don’t present any dramas, the extra wide Pirelli P Zero Corsa 295s down the rear of the car step out nicely as you would expect from a rear wheel drive set up, but even then the standard stability control gives you time enough to correct the line yourself and carry on.
It wouldn’t be right not to praise the steering ratio on board this car, perfect weight from dead centre and brilliant on the twisty bits, while cat-like quick to respond to driver input.
The Carbon Ceramic brakes are epic too, but you need to get them warm otherwise they might grab or lose that progressive pedal pressure you get with some heat.
Out on to some derestricted German autobahn now and time to hit the Sport button, as I’ve lined up a fast moving 5 Series and move in for the kill.
There’s a much more urgent throttle response and frankly, if you are climbing mountains or flying low on the autobahn, hit this button and leave it lit.
Within seconds, I’m burying the pedal in fifth and blasting past the Beemer at 280km/h and onto 300km/h before traffic gets the better of us.
At just over 300km/h through a wide sweeper, there is not a hint of front-end movement or roll. What’s more, the V12 Vantage is rock solid, I mean it’s not moving a single millimetre and there are no obvious aerodynamics on board this car.
But here comes the Beemer, lights flashing and I’m thinking shiesta, this will be my first meeting with the Autobahnpolizie.
Turns out, the guy just wanted to give us the thumbs up and pay homage to what will quickly become the most desirable Aston Martin ever made.
Onwers of the V12 Vantage will take comfort in knowing that their cars are unusually close in spec to this year’s Nurburgring class winning race car, which is indeed impressive.
That said please don’t forget about an RS version Dr Bez, there really is a market for it!