Aston Martin V12 Vantage

Brit marque shoehorns V12 into compact body with a view to a thrill

It's fair to say most supercar buyers are looking for a model which will tell the world just how rosy their bank balance is. Glancing at the options in the £100,000 sector, you won’t find much design subtlety on offer. Except, that is, if you take a look at Aston Martin’s latest creation – the V12 Vantage. Despite being one of the company’s wildest offerings, it could never be accused of showing off.

Aston claims that most of the V12’s body modifications were derived from the N24 endurance racing car and, as a result, every new component has a job to do. In addition to creating extra downforce, the revised front splitter channels air to the brakes and radiator, while the bonnet vents remove heat from the engine bay and increase downforce by limiting the build-up of air pressure under the hood.

Packaging a 6.0-litre V12 into a car little longer than a Ford Focus is no easy task, and it’s testament to Aston’s engineering skills that you can’t tell the difference on the inside. Although the vast transmission tunnel makes the driving position snug, the Vantage feels like a proper supercar thanks to touches such as the hand-stitched leather dash, chunky aluminium gearstick and Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel.

Fire the engine into life and the cabin reverberates with that unmistakable V12 sound. The drivetrain is incredibly smooth: Aston has clearly worked hard to make this car as accessible as possible, and although you are always aware of its ferocious firepower, the Vantage can be driven along twisting back roads with ease.

Find a straight, though, and the V12 is transformed from a mild-mannered coupé into a four-wheeled missile. Thanks to its astonishing 570Nm of torque, the Vantage picks up speed with breathtaking ease, eating up vast chunks of road without breaking sweat. During our track time, it posted some amazing performance figures, including 0-100mph in only nine seconds.

Equally impressive is the model’s balance. Sticking a V12 into a car designed around a much smaller powerplant is a recipe for unruly handling but, again, Aston Martin’s engineers have done a supreme job. While the V12 engine weighs 100kg more than the V8, the introduction of lightweight materials in other key areas means this variant is only 50kg heavier than the standard model. As a result, the V12 Vantage is hugely entertaining to drive. The steering is direct, accurate and bristling with feedback, and although it can’t quite match the Audi’s for feel, it makes the Corvette’s seem distinctly agricultural. Add the superb carbon ceramic matrix brakes – standard-fit on the V12 – and you have a virtually flawless dynamic package.

At £135,000, the V12 Vantage is the most expensive car in this test. It’s also £15,000 more than the V12-engined DB9, which offers similar performance and more practicality. However, as a piece of supercar engineering, this Aston has few peers.

Details

Chart position: 2WHY: The impossible made possible, the smallest Aston has the biggest engine available at the Gaydon plant in Warks.

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