Photography. Jan Glovac
It’s not a long track, but that didn’t stop us flat footing the awesome Aston Martin V12 Vantage onto the straight and swapping cogs just shy of 7000rpm, before shifting down to third for the right hand turn one at Queensland’s Morgan Park Raceway.
This is a seriously quick sports car with truckloads of torque for those blisteringly quick exits out of corners.
It’s as steady as a rock at 302km/h on a German autobahn too as tested by CarAdvice last year, but how does it go on a racetrack, given the Aston Martin V12 Vantage doesn’t pretend to be a road legal track car, as does the Porsche GT3 and Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera.
The moment the track started drying out is when we were able to lay down some serious pace on this demanding circuit, in what is a brilliantly balanced sports car.
With no less than 386 kilowatts of power and 570 Newton-metres, Aston’s most serious sports car was more than a handful on the wet and slippery track (think ice rink and you’ll get the picture).
You had to be careful into the corners and just as careful driving out of the corners. These were dangerous conditions for any driver, especially when you’ve got a whopping great 6.0-litre V12 borrowed from Aston’s DBS sitting under the bonnet and driven by the rear wheels. Sideways, was a common site until the track started show some dry patches.
Like all cars wearing an Aston Martin badge, the V12 Vantage is a beautiful looking thing from any angle. But this Vantage is a little different from its V8 powered siblings, with carbon fibre featuring heavily on the car, as well as a pair of huge 295/30 R19 Pirelli PZero Corsa System tyres on the rear corners.
That’s not all you can’t miss the standard kit pizza tray size carbon ceramic rotors up front that deliver unbelievable stopping power, in wet or dry conditions.
It’s the same story inside the car; beautifully finished materials and high quality switchgear makes this a nice a place to be. And it would have been a treat to switch on the world’s best in-car audio system (the Bang&Olufsen 1000W) but that’s not going to happen here at Morgan Park. We’ll save that luxury for the drive back to Brisbane.
Time to suit up and unleash the V12 rocket on the track, where we can properly assess the performance and handling characteristics of this race bred sports car.
I’m sitting in the ‘must have’ optional carbon-fibre and Kevlar hand-trimmed seats, and if there’s a better pew anywhere in the world that combines comfort with race seat-like bolster as these do, then I’ve not heard about them.
They’ll also give you a weight advantage of near enough to twenty-kilos and that’s always a good thing in a performance car with a 6.0-litre V12 under the bonnet.
There’s a bit of a knack to firing up these Aston’s, foot on the clutch and with a deliberate push of the jewelry-like ECU (Emotional Control Unit), the V12 barks to life.
The track has dried out (thank God) so there should be plenty of grip available from the Pirelli's on the rear corners. That's a massive rubber footprint from a car weighing in at just over 1660 kilograms.
And as much as I like the feel of the beautifully machined but somewhat oversized shifter that Aston Martin employs with their manual transmissions, I’d normally lean towards a set of quick-action paddle shifters, while on track.
That said after a few laps around Morgan Park working the silk smooth six-speed box in the V12 Vantage and I’m having second thoughts, heel and toeing have never been this easy. The pedal placement is perfect.
Aston Martin has always done steering well and this public school hot rod is no exception. Turn in is precise and very quick, despite the additional weight of the six-litres up front.
It’s a beautifully balanced chassis and very quick through corners, with a decent dollup of torque in every gear ratio, wherever you need it throughout the rev range.
You can also brake spectacularly late in the V12, as these particular carbon ceramics offer enormous stopping power from the very first corner. There’s also a solid and progressive pedal feel, which is often the downside to composite brakes due to the high temperatures normally required for them to work effectively.
The engine note is worthy of a Grammy Award, especially when the rev counter hits 4000 rpm and you’re on the charge down the main straight. More like a Le Mans GT entry than a road legal sports car. When I eventually handed the car over to the current MINI Challenge Series Champion Paul Stokell, I had the pleasure of standing trackside and listening to the Aston’s V12 screaming by at 7000rpm in fourth. “Once more if you will Paul” was my only response to him on the two-way.
Now that the sun was out and doing its best to dry out the track, the grip from these P Zero Corsa tyres was tremendous. That’s a big tick, particularly when you consider they are standard kit on the V12 Vantage and are not a bona fide track tyre yet offer a comfortable and compliant ride on everyday road surfaces.
By the end of the track session you soon realise that it’s all about flexibility with this car and the consummate ease with which it does road and track, on the very same day.
Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage is the everyday supercar and quite simply one of the best sports cars in the world right now.
Stay tuned for our full length video of the V12 Vantage track test in a few days.