The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is about to get a performance makeover serious enough to worry Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini. At the opening of Aston’s new design studio at Gaydon, Warwickshire, the firm announced the V12 Vantage RS concept, a lightweight coupe with 375bhp-per-tonne, a twelve-cylinder racing engine, and a real production future. These are the first official pictures of it.The V12 Vantage RS is based closely on the V8 Vantage coupe. If reaction to it at the upcoming Detroit and Geneva motor shows is positive enough, it could go into limited-run production late next year. If it does, the V12 Vantage RS will be faster, more powerful and probably more expensive than the firm’s new flagship, the DBS. However, with 600bhp on tap it would also be the fastest Aston Martin road car in the history of the company. Would that be worth paying more than £160,000 for? Aston Martin is about to find out.
Race engine, carbon bonnet, carbon brakes
The V12 Vantage RS is powered by a lightly overhauled version of the Aston DBRS9’s 6.0-litre V12 racing engine. Producing 600bhp at 6250rpm and 509lb ft at 5000rpm, it’s been squeezed under the bonnet of the V8 Vantage, says Aston, “thanks to the design flexibility of the VH platform,” and features dry sump lubrication, revised camshafts and modified cylinder heads.In attempt to pare down the weight added to the Vantage coupe, Gaydon has fitted a moulded carbonfibre bonnet and bootlid and carbon ceramic brakes to the car. The V12 Vantage RS therefore weighs less than 1600kg, says Aston – only 30kg more than V8 we weighed back in 2005 – and has a power-to-weight ratio of 375bhp-per-tonne. That's better than a Porsche 911 GT2 and Ferrari 430 Scuderia, and only marginally worse than a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera.The visual changes to the exterior of the car are all functional, Aston insists. Those dramatic bonnet louvres extract air from the radiators, while the bootlid features a deployable spoiler that rises automatically at high speeds to increase rear downforce. Meanwhile the front bumper features cooling ducts for the carbon ceramic brakes, as well as a carbonfibre splitter to balance downforce at the front.