Aston Martin V12 Vantage review
Aston Martin's biggest engine in its smallest sports car makes for a thrilling combination
The Aston Martin V12 Vantage is proof that there's more to Aston Martin than just big grand touring sports cars. It uses the 6.0 litre V12 from the DB9/Virage/DBS range, and fitting it to the smaller Vantage results in a thrilling driving experience. It sits above the V8 Vantage in the range, and rivals the Audi R8 V10 for performance. However, the V12 Vantage doesn’t come cheap, as it has a price tag in excess of £130,000 – that’s nearly £7,000 more than a DB9 with the same engine.
The Aston Martin V12 Vantage is undeniably an attractive car. It oozes style and has enough subtle differences from the V8 Vantage to mark it out as something special. The gaping grille and low front splitter make it an imposing car to have in your rear-view mirror, and then there's the soundtrack that goes with that mammoth V12 engine. Other external changes are limited to a carbon fibre rear diffuser, bonnet louvers and side sills that reduce rear-end lift. Inside, the cabin is the same layout as the V8 Vantage, but Aston has increased the quality by plastering everything with Alcantara and carbon fibre.
The 6.0-litre V12 makes 510bhp, so performance is immense. Saying that, a 0-62mph time of 4.2 seconds is only three-tenths of a second quicker than the V8 Vantage S, which costs £25,000 less. However, in terms of balance and driving dynamics, Aston’s engineers have done a sterling job with the V12 Vantage. It's just 50kg heavier than the V8 Vantage, and the V12 is very rewarding to drive - the steering is direct, and only slightly behind that of the Audi R8. The ride is firm, but nowhere near as crashy as the likes of Porsche’s 911 GT2, and when you add in standard carbon-ceramic brakes, the Aston has a near perfect set-up. With 570Nm of torque available, the V12 Vantage will take off in almost any gear and at almost any speed, picking up pace at an alarming rate. Most noticeable of all, is the sound from the V12 powerplant, which in our opinion is worth the extra money over the V8 Vantage alone.
Aston Martin has come on leaps and bounds since the turn of the century, and the V12 Vantage appears very well built. There are a few quality concerns inside, and you won’t get the same sense of solidity as you would in an Audi R8. Saying that, Aston now offers a three-year unlimited millage warranty on all new cars, so if anything does go wrong, owners should have some peace of mind with AM’s small dealer network.
With a 300-litre boot, the front-engined V12 Vantage has three times as much luggage space as the Audi R8, and over twice as much as a Porsche 911. From this point of view the Aston leads the way in terms of outright load-carrying ability, but you don’t buy a supercar to go to the rubbish tip. It might help with a leisurely trip to the golf course though, with plenty of room for a set of clubs in the boot. Inside, the cabin does feel slightly cramped, due to the vast transmission tunnel. But the interior of the Aston is still an extremely enjoyable place to be.
With such a high purchase price, depreciation will be the biggest hit for potential buyers. Now that the Vantage has been around (in V8 form at least) since 2005, the model is starting to feel a little dated alongside more contemporary rivals, such as the Mercedes SLS and Audi R8. The V12 doesn’t fare too well between the pumps either, with a combined economy figure of just 17.3mpg. But then if you're thinking of spending £130,000 on a V12 supercar, these costs aren't going to be a high priority.