BMW’s radical new i8 Supercar? It’s powered by a teeny turbo three-cylinder hooked up to a huge electric motor to give a combined 360-plus horsepower and 0-to-60 sprinting in 4.3 seconds. McLaren’s jaw-dropping new P1 Hypercar? It has an electric motor to help juice the 3.8-liter nuclear reactor-like twin-turbo V8 to give a combined 903 horsepower. A hybrid McLaren with the same tech as a Prius? You better believe it.
Which makes the very latest Aston Martin Vantage S, that’s currently catapulting me out of a corner with the velocity of Coco The Clown being ejected from a Ringling Brothers circus canon, a veritable dinosaur. How come? Shoe-horned beneath the Aston’s curvy hood is one humongous 6.0-liter V12 that wouldn’t look out of place under the hood of a Peterbilt. Quite how they got it in here is a masterstroke in itself. Only technicians with hands the size of
Eva Longoria’s will ever change spark plugs! And there are no superchargers, turbochargers
or battery chargers needed to summon-up all 565 horses. Just 12 perfectly-formed
cylinders sucking air all by their lonesome.
Next to the sold-out One-77 Hypercar, this is Aston’s fastest, most potent street-legal projectile ever – a model that reflects the good ol’ boy hot-rodding philosophy of taking the biggest engine you can lay
your hands on, and squeezing it into the smallest, lightest, most compact body. In this case, it’s the V12 from the flagship Vanquish being forced into the petite Vantage two-door coupe.
It’s a salivating combo. For me, the Vantage is still one of the most intoxicatingly gorgeous sports cars on the planet. Perfectly formed with curves and creases sculpted by angels, standing still it looks like it’s punching through the air at 180. It’s an evolution of the previous-generation V12 Vantage S with just a few nips and tucks to justify a trade-up. That iconic Aston front grille now comes with either black carbon fiber or titanium mesh in place of the trad horizontal slats. At each corner there are new 10-spoke, 19-inch alloys.
Thankfully there’s a lot more substance to add to the style. Compared to the previous Vantage S, the new V12 packs an extra 45 horseys and 37 more torques. And maybe 5,000 more decibels!
There’s also a new adaptive suspension system from the big Vanquish that lets the driver adjust damping in three stages – normal, sport and track.
All awesome so far. Until you start to talk about the transmission. The last-gen Vantage S came with only one gear-swopping choice, a wonderfully precise six-speed manual. But, when developing this new version, Aston thought buyers might prefer an automatic. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just the choice of automatic that turned out to be less than stellar. They opted for a seven-speed single-clutch automatic from a racecar gearbox builder. Under anything other than pedal-to-the-metal acceleration, the shifts are lumpy, clunky, ponderously slow, and often downright unpleasant.
But with an engine like this, you can forgive anything. The snarling, screaming symphony it plays through the big bore exhausts as the revs soar towards the 7,200 rpm redline is beyond magical. Bocelli hitting the high notes can’t come anywhere close!
And the way the Vantage S scythes through curves is beyond real. There is so much grip, so much poise, so much balance it’s near impossible to find the limits of adhesion on public
roads. But it sure is fun trying.
You’ll pay $184,995 for the thrill of owning this 12-cylinder clap of thunder. Grab one while
you can. Just to drive behind one of the world’s greatest engines. Before they start
cutting cylinders and bolting electric motors to it.
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