Originally called the Vantage GT3, Aston Martin changed the name to GT12 earlier this year - a move understood to have been prompted by Porsche's claimed rights to the GT3 moniker.
While many manufacturers use the GT3 prefix to describe track focused or race-inspired models - the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Bentley Continental GT- R are just two recent examples - Porsche is understood to have claimed exclusive use of the name. The badge first appeared on a Porsche model in 1999.
First revealed at the Geneva motor show - and at the time carrying the Vantage GT3 name - the track-focused Aston Martin gets more than 592bhp from its 5.9-litre V12 engine. It will be built in a limited production run of just 100 units, each costing about £250,000.
The V12-powered AMR doesn't have the Bentley Continental GT's...
All of the production run has already been snapped up by Aston Martin’s VIP customer base.
The new Aston is based on the V12 Vantage S road car and inspired by the Vantage GT3 race car - which could also now have its name changed to GT12. It makes extensive use of lightweight materials inside and out — including carbonfibre, magnesium, titanium and aluminium — to reduce its kerb weight by up to 150kg over the 1665kg V12 Vantage S with all the lightweight options fitted. In its standard form, the Vantage GT12 weighs 1565kg.
An extensive aerodynamic package also features on the Vantage GT12, as does a more focused seven-speed automated manual transmission, wider tracks, revised adaptive damper settings and a new titanium exhaust system.
David King, director of the Aston Martin Special Projects arm that created the model, told Autocar the aim was to “create the essence of a GT3 racer in a still-legal Vantage road car”.
King added: “We wanted to push the Vantage as far as we could to make a more extreme track day car that’s visually and functionally inspired by the race car, but still with the style and craftsmanship Aston Martin is known for.”
The engine, codenamed AM57, is carried over from the V12 Vantage S but with some modifications. The inlet manifolds are new, made from magnesium and with revised geometry. The titanium exhaust system is also new and offers a weight saving of 19kg over the V12 Vantage S’s exhaust system. As a result, power is up from 565bhp to more than 592bhp and torque rises slightly from 457lb ft to an estimated 461lb ft at its peak but with bigger gains through the rev range.
The torque tube is also new and made from magnesium, and the seven-speed gearbox has been recalibrated for faster shifts. However, the gearing itself is unchanged from the V12 Vantage S’s.
The final engine output and performance figures have yet to be confirmed by Aston, but the top speed drops from the 205mph of the V12 Vantage S and is rated at 185mph, due to the extra drag created by the aerodynamic package. The 0-60mph time is estimated at 3.5sec, which is 0.2sec faster than that of the V12 Vantage S.
The basic chassis and suspension system of the V12 Vantage S carries over to the Vantage GT12, but with several key modifications. Although the ride height remains the same, ground clearance is reduced by the new aerodynamic features and the track is 15mm wider at the front and 33mm wider at the rear. New spring rates and bars are fitted to the suspension set-up and the Bilstein adaptive dampers are retuned.
The Normal, Sport and Track modes from the V12 Vantage S are also carried over. These alter the firmness of the dampers, throttle response, gearshift speed and timing, exhaust note and steering assistance. They have all been retuned for the Vantage GT12, and King has promised “a very different feel” from the donor model for the GT12.
King’s team is currently entering a two-month testing period to tune the various components and has “fairly aggressive targets to meet with performance”. Aston Martin Racing driver Darren Turner has also been recruited to the development team for this chassis tuning stage.
Elsewhere on the chassis spec, the large Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes are carried over from the V12 Vantage S to the GT12. Lightweight 19in magnesium alloy wheels are shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres (the first time Michelins have been fitted to an Aston) – 265/35s at the front and 325/30s at the rear. The alloys can be specced with a magnesium centre locking cap, another first for Aston.
The Vantage GT12 is wrapped in a new carbonfibre skin, which saves 20kg over the bodywork of the V12 Vantage S. The new bodywork and wider tracks make the Vantage GT3 50mm wider than the model on which it is based.
Visually, the Vantage GT12 is easily distinguished from the V12 Vantage S thanks to its extensive aerodynamic package, in part derived from the GT3 race car. Most striking at the front is the horseshoe graphic in the bonnet that helps with both cooling and airflow over the car. Meanwhile, the rear end is dominated by a large, fixed rear wing.
Inside, the weight-saving continues, because the centre console has been made out of carbonfibre and the carbonfibre seats have manual adjustment rather than electric. The infotainment system is also now fixed, rather than popping out of the dashboard. The cabin, sporty yet still luxurious, is trimmed in Alcantara and leather, and the carbonfibre is left exposed.
Q&A, Marek Reichman, Aston Martin design director
Is this an uprated version of the V12 Vantage S or a road-going version of the GT12 race car?
“It’s pushing from both ends. We’re unusual in that we actually have the race cars in the design studio and work on the surfacing. We’ve shown we have the race pedigree, and there’s a growing frustration at seeing other brands’ GT3 cars so well represented at track days. We know we have the potential and can compete.”
Can a car like this be beautiful?
“Yes. It is beautiful in its functionality, and also the way we execute it because of the quality and attention to detail. We also wanted to convey that the design had been affected by the aerodynamics. In one of our ‘gentleman’ cars, you try to hide it, but in this car the suit is off and the Lycra is on.”
Is the car still usable every day?
“Yes, because we believe there is a gap for a car like this that is also luxurious and usable. There is a luxurious feel to all the materials, but they’re used in functional ways. Each individual part of the car is beautiful and has great attention to detail. The graphics are painted on and show the airflow. The badge is forged from carbonfibre. The mounts for the rear wing follow the same angle as the diffuser. It’s functional things like this developed in a beautiful way that make this an Aston Martin.”
A new generation of Aston Martins is soon on the way. Is this the ultimate current Aston?
“What we’re doing is the pinnacle of our current thinking and potential with the products. We’ve now shown the tip of where we are today and we have a new generation of products coming.”