Opinion

Has Aston Martin Broken A Huge Promise To Enthusiasts?

Where is the manual transmission on the new Vantage?

It is pretty much impossible to be mad at Aston Martin right now. For the first time in recent history, the UK brand seems to be on the right track, and has been earning record profits. The carmaker has an insane hypercar in the works codeveloped with Red Bull, but we attribute a lot of Aston Martin's current success to its new line of engines. The DB11's twin-turbo V12 was developed in-house, but the new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 was borrowed from AMG. The V8 was first shown in the DB11, and has just made its second appearance in the new Vantage.

Aston Martin could even use the upcoming inline-six engine that Mercedes is developing for the rumored CLS 53 AMG. The partnership with AMG is good for Aston Martin in two ways. First, the company now has more efficient engines that can help the brand reach emission targets. Second, Mercedes can help out with the electronics, which have always been a pain point for Aston Martin cars. The benefits of the AMG partnership seem almost too good to be true and there are hardly any downsides. However, we may have noticed one downfall of the AMG partnership that no one has really talked about. Aston Martin may not be able to keep a very important promise that it made to enthusiasts.

In an interview with Car And Driver, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer went on record saying “I want to be the last manufacturer in the world to offer a manual sports car.” At the time, we could only assume that Aston Martin would find a way to mate its borrowed AMG V8 up to a manual transmission. The similarly-sized Mercedes AMG GT uses a seven-speed dual-clutch, but Aston Martin has opted to debut the new Vantage with an eight-speed automatic. The new Vantage produces 80 more horsepower than the previous model (503 hp), and it will be much quicker with a 0-60 mph time of just 3.5 seconds. Aston Martin says that a manual will be available next year, but we have our doubts.

We'll have to take Aston Martin's word that a manual transmission will be available next year, but we can't envision where the company could physically put it. Just take a look at the center console of the new Vantage. It's difficult to see where the company is planning to put a manual gear lever. As it did with the DB11, Aston Martin designed the controls for the Vantage's transmission as an array of buttons on the center stack. This frees up room on the center console, which is then taken up by the Mercedes COMMAND unit, which controls the infotainment and stereo. It seems that if Aston Martin wanted to give this car a manual, it would have to make significant changes to the interior.

We aren't saying that this would be impossible, but it seems a bit odd that Aston Martin would design this car with a manual transmission in mind, then forget to leave space for the transmission lever to sit in the car. The area where a gear lever would normally sit is currently occupied with the COMMAND wheel and volume controls. Road and Track believes that the Vantage could receive the same seven-speed dogleg transmission from Graziano, which was previously used in the V12 Vantage S. Are we being a bit too paranoid about the manual transmission? Or does does our hunch about the center console seem legitimate? Let us know in the comments.

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