Aston Martin has finally put a manual gearbox in the V12 Vantage S. We took it out for a spin.
Aston's Vantage may be in the winter of its life, but it's still a very pretty car.
The V12 Vantage S Manual comes in a number of color combos. We like this one (well...some of us do).
To make room for the stick shift the interior's been given a light refresh.
The exterior...not so much. Though the massive hood vents remain.
Large brakes are large.
Here's the party piece: a seven-speed dogleg stick shift.
If a Vantage has those vents, there's a V-12 lurking beneath.
And that V-12 makes a hell of a noise.
One-piece buckets add a sporting element to the inside. They're comfy, too.
A lip spoiler has been built in to the rear deck to keep it on the ground.
The dials remain cool, though you'll never see them above 90 degrees on the road.
Aston says it'll his 205 mph. It's not lying, judging by the speed.
This engine is a masterpiece.
So, so pretty.
A proper handbrake in an odd place.
In the dry, the Vantage has masses of grip.
Though in the wet it can get a little tricky.
There's seven speeds to play with here, though the gearbox is quite tight and it can get confusing.
Basking shark calling...
The cabin isn't too noisy with the sport button off.
You can happily cruise at highway speeds and not be irked by it.
Press the sport button and you'll get an aural treat.
Aston's AMShift system makes the manual easy to manage.
It'll blip the throttle on downshifts...
...and let you do flat upshifts, so you don't have to take your foot off the gas while sapping cogs.
It's bizarre to use, but utterly wonderful.
You can turn it off if you're a purist though.
Aston says it'll be the last manufacturer to offer a manual gearbox.
It's sad that it has to make that statement, but it's great news for purists.
The manual 'box is chunky and notchy...
...though it can be a bit tight, so at first you'll miss the gear you want.
Give it time and you'll get it down though.
The manual-naturally aspirated combo makes for an engaging experience.
The SportShift automatic option is the V12 Vantage S' weak spot.
It works, but not well enough to make it a truly great car.
That said, if I had one on the drive I wouldn't be mad about it...
You can order a manual V12 Vantage S now.
Though if you're in America, I have some bad news.
Only 100 are going stateside.
Europe, however, can have as many as it likes.
Until overall Vantage production ends, that is.
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