Aston Martin V12 Vantage

The Vantage lineup is offered in V12 Vantage S and V8 Vantage versions, and can be had in either coupe or roadster form.

The base V8 Vantage includes a 4.7L V8 making 420 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque. It comes with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or 7-speed auto-shift manual. V8 Vantage S and Vantage GT models feature a 430-horsepower version of the V8, with torque upped to 361 pound feet. V12 Vantage S versions come with a 6.0L V12 engine that makes 565 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a 7-speed single-clutch system that can be shifted via steering wheel paddles or, new for this year, a 7-speed manual transmission.

V12 models can be spotted mostly through their additional hood venting; there are few other changes on the outside. Roadsters come with a power soft-top arrangement, as well as a different rear damper and spring setup. V8 Vantage S models offer a sports suspension upgrade that includes some of the V12 Vantage changes, with a revised rear anti-roll bar, different shocks and uprated springs. Both models ride on Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires, and stopping power is provided by Brembo 4-wheel disc brakes.

There are two user-selectable driving modes in the Vantage S. The Normal mode softens throttle response and switches to a somewhat quieter, more refined exhaust note. Switch over to the Sport mode, and response gets sharper, plus an exhaust bypass opens at a certain level of accelerator travel to create a sportier, more "raw" exhaust note.

Compared to the coupe, Vantage roadster models get a different trunk lid, including more of a flip up at the back, for aerodynamics, as well as a different lower front air intake. The roadster's soft top fits under a metal tonneau.

The Vantage is nearly 173 inches long, or about the same length as a compact sedan. The Vantage is a two-seater, with plenty of space even for taller adults to sprawl out -- although there isn't a lot of headroom to spare.

In coupe and roadster models, the carbon fiber front splitter and diffuser are hand-made. Inside, there are real glass switches in the center stack, while interior trim pieces are made of carbon fiber.

Equipment on all Vantage models includes automatic climate control, full power accessories, a trip computer, reverse parking sensors, power seats with lumbar support, variable intermittent wipers and headlight washers.

Carbon fiber lightweight seats are an option, bringing 6-way adjustable seats with fixed backrests, trimmed with full leather and an exposed carbon-fiber frame. Standout options include front parking sensors, cruise control, satellite radio and a 13-speaker, 1,000-watt Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system, with Alcantara trim, polished alloy treadplates, an umbrella with built-in holder and all sorts of custom color combinations for the carpet, upholstery and headliner. Those who like the look of carbon-fiber trim might also want to consider either the Exterior Carbon Pack (rear light housing, side strakes and mirror caps) or the Interior Carbon Pack (dash, shifter and door pulls).

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Editors' First Take

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Aston Martin doesn't make it hard to like its cars. They're beautifully designed and handle wonderfully. They're comfortable and come with a variety of noisy and powerful engines. While Aston's cars aren't as fast on paper as some of Italy's finest, they're up there when it comes to elegance. Whereas a Ferrari is in your face, Gaydon's child will only speak when spoken to. Well, more bark than speak. A V-12 can only make certain noises.

The V12 Vantage S is a fantastic car. Its 565 brake horsepower, 6.0-liter V12 is the right kind of stupid in a normally proportioned vehicle, let alone one the size of a small shoe. It'll take you from 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds and up to 205 mph if you have a small runway or don't mind spending some time in prison.

Torque isn't an issue, either, as there's 457 pound-feet to play with, and that means there's plenty of punch in gear. Gearing, however, used to be a huge problem. You see, Aston only offered the V12 Vantage S with a "SportShift" gearbox. It's an automated manual and, frankly, it's awful.

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