What is it?
There’s a small, reasonably discrete patch of empty space towards the front of the Aston Martin Vantage’s transmission tunnel that - back at its official UK media reveal in late 2017 - prompted a somewhat inevitable line of questioning from attending members of the press.
“Is that where the manual gear shifter is going to go, then?” was the general gist of these inquiries, all of which were levelled at boss man Andy Palmer. And as is so often the way with these things, his answer was far more nuanced than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Reading between the lines, said reply was certainly explicit enough to indicate that Gaydon very much planned on rigging the Vantage up with a manual gearbox at some point. Aston’s PR team was understandably less than thrilled with Palmer’s revelation.
Nevertheless, roughly two years later that car has finally arrived. Well, it sort of has, but we’ll get to that later on. For now, let’s look at how the nuts and bolts of this new Vantage differ from the regular model.
First up, the standard car’s eight-speed ZF automatic transmission has obviously been swapped out. Replacing it is the same seven-speed Graziano manual ‘box that appeared in the old Vantage V12 S, dog-leg first gear and all. This is the first time a manual gearbox of any description has been fitted to Mercedes-AMG’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, which in itself is no mean feat.