Aston Martin has redesigned and re-engineered the potent V12 Vantage to create the fastest regular production car in its history: the 329kph V12 Vantage S.
Among the changes are a revised look that incorporates features such as the front grille from the CC100 concept, a more powerful V12 engine with 565bhp, a seven-speed automated manual gearbox in place of the previous six-speed manual, adaptive dampers and a lower kerb weight.
Aston Martin’s product development chief, Ian Minards, said the changes “broaden the appeal of the V12 Vantage” and offer “more performance and more excitement” but also greater usability.
“I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like the V12 Vantage after driving it,” said Minards, “so we were already in a good place. But the fact that it was so focused meant it wasn’t for all tastes to begin with. We’ve responded to that by making the V12 Vantage S, a car with broadened appeal.”
The key to its greater breadth of ability is the addition of three driving modes: Normal, Sport and Track. Selecting one of these modes alters the firmness of the dampers, throttle response, gearshift speed and timing, exhaust note and steering assistance.
In Normal mode, Minards said, the V12 Vantage S becomes more usable and refined than the V8 Vantage S. In Sport mode, its dynamic attributes closely match the outgoing V12 Vantage’s. In Track mode, the performance of the V12 Vantage S goes beyond that of the V12 Vantage to create the hardest and fastest regular Aston yet made.
At the heart of the uprated Vantage is the latest, fifth-generation evolution of Aston Martin’s normally aspirated 5.9-litre V12, codenamed AM28. The main development for the AM28 over the fourth-generation AM11 unit used in the latest Vanquish, DB9 and Rapide S, is a new Bosch engine-management system.
The power of the V12 Vantage S’s engine matches the 565bhp of the Vanquish, a 55bhp increase over the V12 Vantage.
The V12 is mated to a seven-speed automated manual transmission, which has been taken from the V8 Vantage and given a longer final drive ratio to allow for the higher top speed. It is controlled by paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel.
The adoption of this Sportshift III transmission, as Aston calls it, means the end for the six-speed manual in the V12 Vantage. Minards said the car needed to have two pedals instead of three “to make a business case” for it. Autos are far more popular in China and North America, the likely two biggest markets for the V12 Vantage S.
The Graziano-supplied seven-speed automated ’box is also 25kg lighter than the six-speed manual, and Minards said it was “better able to exploit” the engine’s potential than the old transmission, with “motorsport shift speeds”.
Final acceleration figures have yet to be revealed, but Aston expects the 0-100kph time to be less than 4.0sec. The top speed of 329kph is all but confirmed. The One-77 is the only Aston Martin road car to go faster, and that was a limited-run special.
Economy and CO2 figures are expected to improve over the V12 Vantage’s thanks to engine improvements, reduced weight and the new gearbox. Kerb weight is 1665kg, 15kg less than the V12 Vantage in standard specification (25kg has been taken out with the gearbox swap, but 10kg has been added elsewhere).
Bilstein supplies the three-stage adaptive damping technology. Its appearance on the V12 Vantage S marks the first time that adaptive dampers have been used on the Vantage. The spring rates are taken from the Vanquish.
Being able to select from Normal, Sport and Track modes means that “you don’t have to compromise low-speed refinement for high-speed ability”, said Minards.
The Servotronic steering system, with two levels of assistance, is another Vantage first. The two levels of assistance are linked to the adaptive dampers. Sport and Track modes add extra weight and a precision feel. “Having the two levels of feel makes it better and easier to drive in more situations,” said Minards.
Other developments include Brembo-supplied carbon-ceramic brakes adapted from the One-77’s, a Continental-supplied two-stage Dynamic Stability Control system that can be fully switched off and a smaller, lighter exhaust.
New 10-spoke lightweight alloy wheels can be added to save another 3.3kg, and they can be specified with standard P Zero Corsa dry-weather tyres or P Zero all-weather rubber as a no-cost option. Minards described the sum of all these changes as “altering the entire chassis recipe” of the V12 Vantage.
The most notable feature of the revised look, penned by Aston design director Marek Reichman, is the adoption of a new front grille. Inspired by the CC100 concept that appeared at the Nürburgring 24 Hours earlier this month, the new grille loses the distinctive aluminium vanes in favour of a carbonfibre frame with a dark background mesh that can be made out of carbonfibre or titanium. The grille is also wider to improve cooling.
Other design elements include more pronounced side strakes fashioned from carbonfibre, an optional exterior graphics pack that paints the roof and bootlid black, and a revised rear bumper that visually widens the car at the rear. The distinctive carbonfibre bonnet vents remain.
The interior has also been overhauled. “When you step inside, there is instantly a message that this is a special car,” said Reichman. Higher-quality carbonfibre, Alcantara and leather are among the materials featured. Lightweight sports seats can also be added to an interior that has special ‘S’ accents running throughout to reflect the car’s name.
The V12 Vantage S will replace the V12 Vantage in Aston Martin's global lineup.