What is it?
The return of a manual gearbox coupled to a V12 engine in the Aston Martin line-up. Why now? Because when you talk to people at Aston, 'Andy' comes up a lot.
Andy Palmer, still a relatively new incumbent to Aston Martin’s top job, has been driving product development like nobody at Aston before him, and the hope is that profit will accompany it like at no other time for Aston. Models need to feel distinctly different from each other, Andy says, and they should arrive more frequently and be augmented by twice-yearly special products. And, oh yeah, always make sure there’s a manual gearbox option.
This is that. When the V12 Vantage S replaced the V12 Vantage, the old six-speed manual was dropped (although you can still have it in a V8) because few buyers really wanted one. A seven-speed automated manual, a single-clutch transaxle unit with two pedals and flappy paddles, was standard instead, but its hesitancy has always been a weak spot compared with the dual-clutch automatic units in rival cars.
Alongside Palmer’s belief that a sports car company simply ought to offer a manual, so interest in manuals has resurfaced. But instead of reviving the old six-speed ’box, Aston has instead, in effect, fitted a manual shift mechanism and pedal-operated clutch to that ‘Sportshift 3’ robotised seven-speed transmission.