It is a time of mixed emotions for the iconic Aston Martin V12 Vantage: a moment of celebration as the latest model is unveiled to great aplomb, but a moment of sadness. After all, this is the final V12 Vantage that will ever be built.
The reality is that V12s don't have a place in an environmentally friendly world. And, as even supercar manufacturers begin to turn attention to hybrids and eventual all-electric future, the Gaydon-based giant has decided this will be its final curtain.
My first impressions are that it's insane. It was a very short odds bet that Aston Martin would want it to go out with a bang. And while the V12 Vantage has always looked more menacing than its V8 sibling, the new version takes it to a whole new level.
Even by Aston Martin's standards, the front grille is enormous, while the bodywork overlaps at either side, creating two large air intakes, There is also a not-particularly-inconspicuous front splitter, while the rear wheel arches are so big that they appear to be in a different postcode.
Modesty is not the fresh V12's strong suit. A new twin exhaust is now centred, while the back is shaped such that the car wouldn't look out of place on a racetrack, especially given it has a large rear wing. It is just as well. Aston Martin says you can choose ‘striking exterior graphics and liveries’ for the paintwork.
The V12 is a 5.2-litre twin-turbo taken from the DB11, and it produces 700PS. That is about 180PS more than the original version of its predecessor. Of course, the final edition had to be capable of 200mph, plus it gets from a standstill to 62mph in 3.5-seconds.
According to Aston Martin, the driving dynamics have been ‘honed to deliver utmost performance and unmatched enjoyment’. The figures would appear to confirm this – especially as, at 200mph, it generates over 200kg of downforce. And thanks to the use of more lightweight materials, the car has a power-to-weight ratio of 390PS per tonne. That is a 20 per cent increase on the old car.
The front bumper is carbon fibre, as are the clamshell bonnet, front fender, and side sills. Meanwhile, the extensive use of composites in various places – and even a lightweight battery – in addition to thin steel in the exhaust system have been used to shave off every gram.
The new V12 is fitted with an eight-speed automatic, too, as well as a limited-slip differential. Furthermore, Aston Martin claims that the transmission's software means it outperforms any dual-clutch gearbox.
Despite 21-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive damping suspension system means drivers should get the most comfort without dumbing down the handling. At the same time, the steering response has been sharpened up.
Ceramic brakes are fitted too, These anchors are capable of withstanding 800ºC without any brake fade.
The interior doesn't seem to live up to the exterior's madness. But still looks the part, with angled air vents, button-press gear selectors surrounding a V12 badge and lots of red trim. this material covers the doors and the carbon-fibre buckets seats on the model I saw (although those seats are an optional extra). However, the infotainment system appears notably small and dated, with a relatively thick border around the screen.
You can choose from woven leather or Alcantara seat inserts, while the rotary dials in the centre console can be coloured to match the exterior bodywork if you wish.
Given Aston Martin is heading into a more eco-conscious future, it hasn't released any details about the V12 Vantage's fuel economy. But i believe you'll be fortunate to average 20mpg, with around 15mpg the likey norm in practice. Unfortunately, it also produces a not-especially-planet-hugging 315g/km of CO2.
I can forgive any drawbacks, though. This is its last hurrah, and its lunacy is apparent, as is Aston Martin's desire for it to be a memorable and fitting end to the V12 Vantage's production, filled with fireworks and noise.
If you want one, then sadly, you're too late. Only 333 are being built – and all the new V12 Vantages have been snapped up already.
If that's disappointing to you, you might garner some consolidation from the fact that, due to its exclusivity, the insanity of the price tag is a match for the car itself: £270,000. That is nearly double what the ‘F1 Edition’ of the previous Vantage cost.
On the other hand, the limited numbers mean it will undoubtedly be a collector's item because this is the last one. Therefore, it's difficult to blame Aston Martin for making the most of the surge in demand.
The Warwickshire manufacturer describes the new V12 vantage as a
“spectacular finale for an iconic bloodline”.
On this evidence, it’s not joking.
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