We’ve been down this road before, obviously, but I’m beginning to wonder just how many of the people who have berated Aston Martin on this site for fitting the new V12 Vantage S with a flappy-paddle gearbox (instead of a manual) have ever actually driven a car with a modern paddle-shift gearbox.
And when I say modern, I don’t mean like the one that was fitted to the original Vanquish from 10 or 12 years ago (which was indeed rubbish), but instead one of the latest systems, such as that fitted to the current Vanquish.
Because if you have, and if you still don’t like what you find, then fair enough. We will simply have to agree to disagree and move on.
But if you haven’t experienced not only the speed, convenience and ease of use of a modern flappy-paddle gearbox in full flight, but also the pure pleasure of using it – yes, believe it or not, there is actual pleasure to be had from flicking a downshift paddle at just the right moment and listening to the engine blip to the correct revs – then I’m not sure your opinion really counts.
Armchair experts are, after all, often very good indeed at knowing what they don’t want, but they aren’t always so forthcoming when it comes to explaining what they do want. Complaining about stuff is, unfortunately, often the easiest option to adopt for the casual observer, even though it’s equally important to realise that there are two sides to every coin, etcetera and so on.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Aston Martin just for the sake of it. I’ve had a pop at them for various reasons on this site over the years, but in this instance I believe they really are just giving the customer what the customer wants. In 2013 that means a well engineered paddle shift gearbox, not a clunky old manual with a He-Man clutch cramping the footwell.
Put it another way. In 2010, Ferrari announced to the world that it would be offering its California with the option of a manual gearbox, in place of the existing flappy-paddle. And how many manual Californias do you think Ferrari has sold worldwide since then? Answer: two, one to a chap in Australia, and one to a customer in the UK, and that’s it. Two cars. In three years.
And that’s why the V12 Vantage S now comes with a seven-speed paddle-shift gearbox, and a seven-speed paddle shift gearbox only. Amen.