Aston Martin V12 Vantage 2010 Review
May 27, 2010
$105,380 - $121,110
It is - this handcrafted British road machine - a fabulous collection of mechanicals, style and luxury. It is a most enticing grand tourer, a head-turning coupe of some pace and grace. With a sweet balance to the chassis and brakes thatd stop a bull elephant in its tracks. It will, says the factory, jump from 0 to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds and run out to better than 300km/h. Easy to believe. For this is an explosive package, a big-engined yet lithe two-seater with ability to take on misty morning mountain roads, sweeping stretches of highway or Monday morning traffic.
But pause to praise the Lord for the mighty farm tractor. For the history of modern sports machinery, including this Aston, is littered with famous plough-lugging marques. Lamborghini was first a tractor maker. Porsche built tractors from 1934 to the early 1960s to keep sports cars coming. Irishman Harry Ferguson made little grey Fergies before developing a four-wheel-drive system used by the Jensen FF. And tractor maker David Brown (an early partner of Ferguson) went on to buy Aston Martin in 1947; that's where the DB range of Astons comes in.
PRICE AND PACKAGE
Today the Vantage line of Astons sits below today's DB9, DBS and Rapide in size and sometimes in price. V8 Vantages can be had with six-speed manual or Sportshift, coupe or roadster. The V12 Vantage comes only as a manual coupe, priced at $379,251 which puts it among the DB line-up in price.
But this Vantage is a different kettle of fish _ a compact, pretty light, two-door coupe with a six-litre V12 shoehorned into a tight spot and producing many smiles per mile.
That means the V8s handsome bonnet here has a bulge plus a clutter of carbonfibre vents for airflow; these, if necessary, look a little vulgar on this hunkered-down, hip-high machine with a sculpted long nose and short tail.
While the V12 engine weighs 100kg more than the V8, this Vantage, with a fair chunk of aluminium aboard, is only some 40kg heavier at 1680kg. This is a serious piece of sports machinery, more power to weight than the average Fergie.
Carbonfibre is used from front to rear splitter and across the leather-clad cabin. Inside is a place of comfort and purpose with two seats, a large parcel shelf and decent sized boot nestled under that rear hatch.
The cabin carries the usual line-up of convenience features from air conditioning to powerful sound system, trip computer and navigation aid.
There are carbonfibre, one-piece seats which hold driver and co-driver in fine form. There are exquisitely machined pedals, the tachometer swings counter clockwise and the analogue speedometer (hard to read) is complemented by a digital readout for road speed. Watch that space.
The Vantage V12 is fired up with an Emotional Control Unit, a push-in starter plug which wakes up 12 cylinders with a polite whirring of mechanicals and hint of menace from twin exhausts. These are best appreciated barking from outside. From inside a bloke could swear this was a rear-engined machine for there is a sweet symphony of sounds from behind the driver's head.
Snick that polished gearstick into first of six speeds, a little throttle, out with the clutch and.nothing much, just steady progress into the traffic. For the Vantage can be as docile as the family Commodore, as easy to shift through the traffic as a Corolla. Visibility, despite low seat and high window sills, is pretty good.
Major and minor controls are intuitive and mechanicals well behaved. No need to slip the clutch, blip throttles or panic for another gear. The ride is firm, not intrusive. This all changes out on open roads where the Aston can be one fast and furious machine.
Best on a wet and mucky day to keep full traction control on and leave the Sport (go-faster) button off. The Sport button remaps engine tuning for sharper throttle response; it delivers an extra nudge in the back when engaged at road speed, a wilder take-off and a little too much extra verve on a wet track.
The traction control has three stages _ on, half-on and off. The last is really for good and brave drivers. Even half-on was a bit whooaa on a greasy road; full traction control is far more sensible and quite sociable, allowing a little slip and correcting with discretion rather than violence.
There is all this power to be had and enjoyed as the Aston sweeps hard toward the next bend. But here, on the approach and through the turn, the Vantage shows off more to appreciate.
The steering is well-weighted, and you'll always know where those 19-inch front wheels are pointed. The big disc brakes pull speed down with confidence, whether chasing a little slow down or a major stop.
The transmission and gear gate offers positive shifts. And now the Aston's balance comes to the fore as the car moves through the turn. It does this with finesse and confidence, speed and smiles. Wet roads and traffic muted any foolhardy manoeuvres this time around. But this Aston Martin Vantage V12 appears, as expected, a fine piece of powerful machinery.
It is expensive, powerful and well-built. It is also a most comfortable and stylish sports tourer which deals with day-to-day motoring while offering dynamic performance when prodded.
ASTON MARTIN V12 VANTAGE
Body: 2-door coupe
Engine: 6-litre V12
Power: 380kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 570Nm @ 5750rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear drive
Dimensions (mm): 4380 (l), 1865 (w), 1241 (h)
$105,380 - $121,110