This is it, the end of an era.
Following a leak earlier this morning, the long-awaited Aston Martin V12 Vantage has finally been revealed in full. As the teaser of its engine note promised, it's a glorious machine with a bellow that is sure to draw attention from miles away. Besides the way it sounds, the way it looks, and the way it should perform, there's something else that makes the all-new Aston Martin Vantage variant especially noteworthy: after 15 years of existence, this is the very last time that a V12-powered Vantage will be produced. So what V12 is it, and has the car been worth the wait? Did Aston do things properly and give this particular special edition the send-off it deserves? Let's find out.
As you can see, a new bumper design starts the aesthetic upgrades off and boasts a front splitter for improved downforce, balance, and looks. With a big engine come big cooling demands, so the grille has been enlarged by 25% while a 'horse shoe' vent design has been added to the hood for further cooling efficiency and as a callback to the Vantage GT12. Along the profile, a single-piece sill inspired by motorsport and past V12 Vantage models has been incorporated, with 21-inch wheels filling the arches wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. The rear is redesigned with a new bumper too, featuring an integrated diffuser. Therein, a twin-exit lightweight exhaust system is finished off, adding drama to the overall look and complementing the rear wing. This rear wing produces almost 450 pounds of downforce at top speed, but you don't have to have one - Aston will happily delete the wing a la Porsche 911 GT3 Touring. Speaking of things that affect performance, let's get on with the engine.
As predicted, it's a 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V12 tuned to develop 690 horsepower (SAE) and 555 lb-ft of torque. Peak power is achieved at 6,500 rpm, while maximum torque is available from 1,800-6,000 rpm. Wring the neck of the engine, click the paddles as you work your way up the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, and hold on tight - this thing will get to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and only stop accelerating at 200 mph. Thanks to an adaptive damping suspension system with revised spring rates that are up to 50% stiffer, new anti-roll bars, new dampers, a mechanical limited-slip differential, carbon-ceramic brakes (six-piston front and four-piston rear), revised steering geometry, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, handling should be exquisite too. Impressively, the entire thing weighs just 3,957 pounds, translating to a power-to-weight ratio of 384 hp/ton.
A range of options including lightweight wheels further reduce weight, while the ZF eight-speed automatic has received revised tuning based on lessons learned from the V12 Speedster and Vantage F1 Edition to make it smoother than a DCT but incredibly rapid and engaging.
That impressive weight figure comes courtesy of weight-saving strategies implemented throughout the car, with carbon fiber being an important part of the body's structure and the entire package being comprehensively reevaluated. The brakes, exhaust system, and even the optional carbon fiber seats have all been honed for minimal mass, but you can take things further with a lightweight package that adds more carbon and makes the steering column a manually-adjustable unit, among other things. While Aston Martin concentrated on taking weight away, some things needed to be enlarged in order to accommodate the new drivetrain. The bodywork has been widened by 40 millimeters (around 1.57 inches).
Numerous options and accessories are available, and every model will be tailored by Q by Aston Martin, meaning each will be unique to its owner. The available options include various graphics packages and wheel options, as well as a plethora of interior customization choices from woven leather to Alcantara and, of course, carbon fiber.
"Every great sports car brand has a hero car. For Aston Martin in more recent years that car has been the V12 Vantage," says Tobias Moers, Aston Martin CEO. "Right from the moment the first V12 Vantage RS Concept was shown back in 2007 our customers and fans around the world fell in love with the idea of fitting our biggest engine into our smallest and most sporting model." He describes the new V12 Vantage as "a celebration of its forebears and an embodiment of Aston Martin's intensifying focus on driving dynamics, [that] ensures the V12 Vantage goes out on the highest of highs."
As Marco Mattiacci, Aston Martin Global Chief Brand and Commercial Officer, explains: "At Aston Martin we build cars, but we sell dreams." Sadly, all of the planned production run of 333 units is spoken for, and if anybody drops out, Aston Martin says it has a long waiting list of interested buyers. Those who have ordered one won't have to wait long, as deliveries will begin globally in the second quarter of this year.