The latest Aston Martin – the 2015 Vantage S V12 – surprised me. It wasn’t the speed. I was prepared for that. It wasn’t the styling. I know Aston has their look locked down cold. It was the fact that I never believed I’d enjoy driving any Aston Martin as much as I feasted on the most recent Vanquish.
I headed to Palm Beach International Raceway in the Sunshine State to put the new Vantage S through its paces on the professional 2.034 mile circuit. Perfect weather greeted this opportunity to test frosty concentrated British automating in the land of frozen concentrated orange juice.
The V8 Vantage Coupe is Aston Martin’s current entry level vehicle — if an automaker dealing exclusively in luxury super cars can have such a thing. This V12 Vantage S is a step up from that V8 embarkation point — packing more muscle and more exciting performance numbers.
The 2015 edition comes equipped with a 6.0 liter AM28 engine (below) that produces 565 horsepower and a reachable top speed of 205 mph. Thanks to the same muffler used by Vanquish, that signature, growling baritone exhaust note is all you’ll need to hear to know it’s a genuine Aston power plant waiting to tear up the track.
Once out in the pavement, those hundreds of horses pour out torque as smooth as warm Devonshire cream, but the rear mid mounted Sportshift III gearbox keeps the assembled power perfectly balanced and totally in harness.
The result is a car that is as agile and nimble as it is straight-line fast. The car never feels out of control whether on a 175 mph straightaway, a wheel-racking hairpin or a wide rim shot turn. The steering is light and surgical, the brakes grippy and reassuring.
Halfway through my consignments of ecstatic track laps, I realized every one of those adjectives I’ve thrown around for he Vantage S applied to the Vanquish. Is it possible that I enjoyed driving the Vantage S as much — or even more — than the Aston sitting just one slot from the top of its line?
Do no misinterpret any of this as some veiled knock on the Vanquish. Though significantly more expensive than the Vantage S, the Vanquish is a wonderful car — a perfect blend of luxury, style, performance and raw power. I wrote all but love poetry for that model when I test drove it in New Orleans. It was strictly veni, vidi, vici for the Vanquish, and anyone who has the considerable resources to buy one should look past the gaudy temptations of the Ferrari or comparative surgical blandness of the Porsche and reach for Aston Martin’s trademark mix of refined style and angry performance in Vanquish form.
Overall, the Vantage S is not a better car, but it is just as pleasurable to drive. But, since the Vanquish runs as close as you dare to $280,000, and the Vantage S starts around $187,820, the latter significant decline in price is not equalled by a drop off in beauty or driving pleasure. The value of the Vantage S makes it a prime choice when lined up side to side with its more expensive, more famous sister.
The 2015 Vantage S V12 will be a tremendous success for Aston Martin. With a supercar price tag under $200,000 and no perceivable sacrifice of speed, comfort and performance, plant of buyer will be perfectly happy “settling” for this beefier version of Aston’s starter car.