Aston Martin V12 Vantage S 2014 review

We drive the incredible Aston Martin V12 Vantage S on UK roads for the first time

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

This is Aston Martin at its best, producing cars that driving enthusiasts can really get excited about. We love its engine, its handling and its styling but can’t help being frustrated by the gearbox. To illustrate just how good the rest of the car is, though, you’ll find yourself forgiving the V12 S its quirks as soon as you find a twisty piece of tarmac.

Advertisement - Article continues below

We’ve already declared the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S the best Aston in the line-up off the back of a drive on the twisty, sun-soaked tarmac of Palm Springs but its big test will be this first drive in the UK.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage S first drive review

Our time behind the wheel begins on congested city streets where the Aston’s first gearshift reveals its only real flaw. You can never get used to the way the automated manual slowly shuffles the cogs, forcing your head to nod back and forth. It’s better to use the paddles mounted to steering column and lift off the accelerator each time you change up – that’ll smooth the shifts out.

As soon as the roads open up, the heavens open, too. The V12 Vantage was already a handful in the wet but this V12 S model has an extra 55bhp from its 6.0-litre engine, taking the total to 565bhp. Even on greasy roads the acceleration is ferocious and the sound from the engine is just as aggressive. Things get even better with the Sport button pressed, sharpening up throttle response and summoning extra crackles and a harder growl from the exhausts.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Aston Martin V12 Vantage review

Through corners, the V12 S shines, with weighty, talkative steering and a really neutral balance to the chassis that leans towards oversteer. Without the rear-wheel-steering of the Porsche 911 GT3 or any fancy torque vectoring systems, it feels decidedly – and wonderfully – old-fashioned. It’s about as pure as modern performance cars get, and it’s hugely rewarding but quick to bite you if you turn the traction control off.

Despite its hard-edged nature the Aston tackled bumpy streets and 100-mile motorway journeys easily – there’s plenty of roar from the tyres and a definite firmness to the suspension but you wouldn’t be crazy to use this as your everyday car. The only things that might irritate are the woeful running costs – we got 12mpg – and the almost unusable infotainment system.

At £138,000 you’d be forgiven for expecting near-perfection from the V12 S, and in terms of driving purity it comes tantalizingly close – it’s just not the all-rounder it could have been.


Most Popular

Visit New facelifted BMW 5 Series takes aim at Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class
BMW 5 Series

New facelifted BMW 5 Series takes aim at Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class

The BMW 5 Series has been updated with styling and efficiency tweaks, while a new 545e performance plug-in model joins the line-up
27 May 2020
Visit VW to pay customer £25,000 following new Dieselgate ruling

VW to pay customer £25,000 following new Dieselgate ruling

Volkswagen has lost a landmark court case in Germany and must now pay significant compensation
26 May 2020
Visit New Volkswagen Golf GTI ride review
Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback

New Volkswagen Golf GTI ride review

Hi-tech new controls aim to keep legendary Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatch’s driving dynamics at the top of the class
12 May 2020