First DriveA solid and significant step in the right direction, but still a flawed package that relies on charm more than raw ability
First DriveA proper manual gearbox makes the Vanquish the car it always should have been
Six years after its launch, and just as the run-out ‘Ultimate’ edition is announced, the Aston Martin Vanquish is finally available with a manual gearbox. For £15,569, Aston’s special vehicle division, Works Service, will replace the automated manual ’box with a stick shift and clutch pedal.
The conversion, which is available on both standard and S models, removes the Magneti Marelli paddle-shift hardware, but leaves the rest of the gearbox intact. The six forward ratios are therefore identical to those of the standard car, although Works Service also offers a different final drive ratio for owners wishing to trade a lower top speed for greater mid-range thrust.
What's it like?
The hatchet job is thorough and convincing. A light and progressive clutch is matched to a firm and positive shift – you could describe it as manly. This gearbox suits the car’s old world, brutish character and helps the driver make the most of the wondrous 5.9-litre V12. Put simply, the Vanquish is a better car for this conversion.
Its success begs the obvious question: why wasn’t it available earlier? “When we developed Vanquish, there was a lot of internal debate about whether to offer two versions,” says Kingsley Riding-Felce, the director of Works Service. “The company Chairman, Bob Dover, was insistent that the Vanquish was a ‘technology car’ and that a manual gearbox would compromise that message.”
Should I buy one?
If you own a Vanquish, you plan on keeping it and you're annoyed by that flappy paddle gearbox, we'd say so. Aston admits that lots of people over the years have expressed a dislike of the standard gearbox and asked for a manual, and if they do a lot of slow-speed manoeuvring or town driving, we can well understand. The transformation takes two to three weeks, and Works Service has already converted nine cars, despite the lofty price tag.
Some will argue that the manual Vanquish is seven years too late, of course - but it’s better late than never.