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Aston Martin Vantage AMR trades torque for a seven-speed manual

Once the AMR sells out, the three-pedal setup will be offered on the normal Vantage.

Aston Martin

It's a rare event when an automaker doubles back and adds a manual transmission to a car nobody thought was developed with one in mind. Perhaps, then, we should have rolled out some balloons and fireworks for the Aston Martin Vantage AMR, because that's exactly what's happened. Although, like the Soul Stone, it comes at a cost.

Aston Martin on Tuesday unveiled the Vantage AMR. Following in the footsteps of the AMR models before it, the Vantage AMR promises superior performance and more aggressive looks when compared to the "regular" Vantage. There's also a dose of exclusivity thrown into the mix, because Aston only plans to build 200 of these.

Three pedals, eight cylinders and… less torque?

The Aston Martin Vantage AMR uses the same engine as the standard Vantage -- a Mercedes-AMG-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. Here's where things get weird, though: Whereas the DB11 AMR is more powerful than its normcore sibling, the Vantage AMR's output is lower. It still has the same 503 horsepower as the vanilla Vantage, but torque is actually down from 505 pound-feet to 461.   

This dearth of torque affects the AMR's performance figures, too. The AMR will reach 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds, 0.4-second longer than the common Vantage. Both cars have the same top speed of 195 mph, though. I'm sure you have the same question that many others at this point do: WTF?

It's a real power move to drop an extra $30,000 for a car that's less capable than the original. That's some "eff-you money," as the kids like to say.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin said the drop in torque was necessary to accommodate a very special part: a seven-speed manual transmission. This dog-leg transmission mates to a limited-slip differential to keep the shiny side up at all times. The transmission also has two clever touches: It can automatically downshift for drivers who can't heel-toe, and it permits full-throttle upshifts without upsetting the car's balance. No-lift shifts, baby!

In addition to providing the "engagement" that purists continue to gripe about as the industry slowly pushes manual transmissions to the wayside, the seven-speed has a second benefit. Combined with standard carbon-ceramic brakes, the two parts help knock 209 pounds off the Vantage's curb weight. That weight loss isn't enough to make up for the lack of torque on the acceleration front, but it should feel a bit livelier on the road as a result.

Once the AMR sells out, though, don't think the seven-speed will die with it. Instead, starting in the first quarter of 2020, Aston Martin will include this transmission as an option on the traditional Vantage. That said, the automaker didn't specify a price for this option, nor did it say if torque output will have to drop in order to make it all work together.

I wonder how long it will take before somebody tries in vain to shoehorn this transmission into a Mercedes-AMG GT.

Aston Martin

Eye on design

Only 200 Vantage AMRs will be built, with pricing starting at $179,995, or about $30,000 more than the ordinary Vantage. It'll be available in blue, black, white or gray, so it should be a pretty subtle ride overall.

If you prefer a bit of flash, though, you're in luck. Of those 200 cars, 59 have been set aside for a special variant. The Vantage 59 specification is meant to honor the 60th anniversary of Aston Martin's victory at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans -- the same race that spawned a limited-edition DB11 variant. This is the trim seen in the pictures accompanying this article, rocking Stirling Green paint with lime accents outside. Inside, it has a unique combination of leather and Alcantara suede with an AMR lime stripes and stitching all over the place.

Of course, that extra bit of high-class kit comes with a price tag to match. The Vantage 59 is even more expensive than the AMR at $204,995, or about $55,000 more than the vanilla Vantage. The 59 models are only available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so by the time you've read all this text, chances are good that you may have already missed your chance to own one.