Here’s a pleasurably subversive thought for you: Stats are wrecking enthusiast cars. We use them to rank the latest models, critique them, and deify them. Sometimes the numbers happen to align with a group of affulences, and the car becomes transcendent – like the Ferrari 458 Speciale, a very special thing in fact.
There are cars with great numbers and very little charisma; I’ve driven several of them. And then, there are the number-based reports that mislead us. For example, the hoopla around the Mazda MX-5’s Horsepower, or the continuing lack of a Toyobaru with a turbo – frustrating interference about pedant platforms better understood on track than on paper.
The 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S is old, flawed, and weak – so say the insidious numbers. A mechanical watch does not keep time as well as a quartz one, the numbers say. A tube amp generates an inferior sound, the numbers say. The way to fight back is to stop this slavish devotion to the stats and go wind the thing out on good roads in imperfect conditions, which is to my mind the ultimate test of a grand tourer’s competence.
Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Performance
Some roadside rerouting led to some promising roads, so I pointed the Aston into the curves. This is soulful, warm, analog – but just honest rather than consciously retro. There’s nothing here attempting to simulate an authentic experience – it is an authentic experience. It’s all right there, under the long and delicate hood – twelve cylinders dislodging 5.9 liters. And inside the cabin, a seven-speed manual gear lever that moves over a dogleg pattern. This watch requires winding; it’s a tactile experience that the fastest, most sophisticated dual-clutch automated manual cannot touch.
I can’t describe the several-millisecond difference between the Camaro ZL1’s 10-speed automatic and Porsche PDK’s shift time, but I know – in intimate detail and perfect clarity – when I nail a 1-2 shift on the Aston’s dogleg box. Or when I miss the 3-4 upshift and go into sixth, which happened at least twice. The pattern would be tidier with two fewer gears – there is lots of torsion to handle bigger ratio jumps, and it’s not like an additional overdrive or two is doing a lot of to help out the V12 Vantage S’s drinking problem.
Save yourself the psychic pain of watching the fuel gauge, or worse, the trip computer’s consumption figures. The manual transmission is a rare piece of the Aston seems like it’s there to compete in the arms race that inflicts the high-performance genre. Otherwise, the more this car diverges from the pack, the better it becomes. That is in part because as its competitors introduce immense complexness for incremental gains in efficiency and huge power numbers, they also have to go to enormous lengths to camouflage the hardware’s unsavory attributes.
Think of piped-in or simulated sounds that strive a little too hard to create up for the fact that a direct-injection, forced-induction engine sounds like eight sewing machines brawling with a vacuum cleaner. And think of how much effort – the thousands of lines of code and exotic plumbing – that goes into creating turbocharged cars look like they are not. The number chasers attempt to cover their tracks, but the insincerity shines through.
Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Description
Despite the knock against numbers, here are a few – and keep in mind they are not the yardstick. The V12 S is good for 565 Horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torsion, substantial but not eyebrow-raising figures that inform the Vantage’s thrust and the quality of its power delivery.
That V12 has 3,670 pounds to pull over, however it feels lighter than that and has near-perfect front-to-rear weight distribution. Without forced induction, there’s little debilitation between driver input and power output – it’s linear, mechanical, and utterly predictable.
But recent from the Aston, its V12 has my heart – a subjective, and personal, realization. Automakers will continuously creating techno-savvy cars like the McLaren, but the analog, naturalistic V12 Vantage S is nearly certainly the last of its kind. I forgive it its frailties to hear that siren engine howl around another bend.