Does shoehorning a V12 into the Vantage make a superstar of Aston’s coupe?
Poor old Lawrence Stroll. While it might be a stretch to feel sorry for a wildly successful billionaire with a glittering business track record, his latest project – transforming troubled Aston Martin into the Ferrari of the Midlands – is not proving easy.
In Formula 1 his cars are at the wrong end of the grid and, on the road car side, Aston Martin and Tobias Moers, CEO for a little under two years, recently parted company. A couple of ex-Ferrari heavyweights will take up the reins.
Aston’s new management faces a long list of challenges. But selling V12 Vantages isn’t one of them. Despite an eye-watering price of £265,000 all 333 examples have already found buyers. That’s Ferrari 296 GTB money, but where the Italian’s a mid-engined weapon stuffed with next-generation hybrid technology, the Vantage is, in the nicest possible way, a dinosaur.
But what a dinosaur. Had the V12 Vantage been in Jurassic Park, Spielberg’s big-lizard classic would have been slapped with an 18 rating. The V8 is no slouch but slotting Aston’s 5.2-litre, twin-turbo V12 into the Vantage has elevated the car’s turn of speed to new, occasionally terrifying heights.
The V12 engine, which also sees service in the DB11 AMR and the flagship DBS Superleggera, is a monster. Peak power is just shy of 700bhp. Peak torque is a monumental 555lb ft. Together they’re enough to hurl the Vantage to 62mph in 3.5sec and on to 200mph.
Performance is ever-present and incendiary. Being turbocharged, the engine doesn’t rev all that high. The redline’s at 7000rpm, and the gearbox is sometimes reluctant to downshift quite as early as you’d like, to avoid clattering into the limiter. It could also shift a little more quickly.
But there’s so much grunt here it doesn’t matter. At 4000rpm, foot to the floor, you’re hauling. Between 4000rpm and 6000rpm the world’s coming at you on fast-forward and the noise feels like it’s peeling back your scalp. And north of 6000rpm the acceleration’s as violent as a plane crash, and almost as loud.
So, the power’s outrageous. But the V12 Vantage is more than just an engine swap. The springs, dampers and anti-roll bars have all been dialled up significantly, front and rear, to better cope with the increased power and weight. At 1795kg, the V12’s some 105kg heavier than the V8 Vantage.
Have they been dialled up too much? Arguably, yes, certainly for road use. The V12’s set-up is uncompromising, and that is great news on a racetrack. There, the nose goes where you want it to, the mid-corner poise and grip are impressive and the sense of connection with the chassis lets you give those rear Michelins a really, really hard time on corner exit. The standard carbon-ceramic brakes are also sensational.
But on the road the V12 Vantage is hard work. You can adjust the damper settings but they’re all stiff, the car’s loud on the move and its sports seats aren’t in any way chiropractor-approved. Where the original V12 Vantage was a big-engined musclecar in a sharp suit, this one’s a potent track car that doesn’t feel comfortable pussyfooting around on the road.
The V12 Vantage is a rare and desirable machine nonetheless And of course it’s sold out. Good news if you’re Lawrence Stroll.
Aston Martin V12 Vantage: £265,000, 690bhp twin-turbo V12, 3.5sec 0-62mph, 200mph