There are all sorts of reasons why the new Aston V12 Vantage is an unusually great car – its thumping acceleration, the noise it makes, the way it goes round corners, the way it looks. But for me the best thing about it is that I just wasn’t expecting it to be so good, not after the DBS.
When Aston Martin unleashed its masterplan unto the world in the form of the DBS, most observers cringed at how gauche the interior looked and how relatively underwhelming it was to drive. Given that the V12 Vanatge uses the exact same engine and gearbox and, somewhat disappointingly, weighs within 15kg of its big brother, you’d expect it to offer a pretty similar kind of driving experience.
But no. What the Vantage V12 turns out to be is as close a car in character as you’ll currently get to a Porsche 911 GT3. Which means it is way better than the DBS in every respect. Fact is, it achieves much more of what it sets out to achieve than the DBS, even if it is quite different in personality.
The other area in which the Vantage goes one up, not just on the DBS but on the GT3 as well, is the message it sends out to his great unwashedness, the general public. Drive a DBS and people tend to react in two ways; they do their utmost to ignore you because you are very obviously driving a very flashy big car, or they cut you up. In a GT3 they just cut you up.
But in the smaller, more handsome, less ostentatious Vantage the reaction is much more friendly. It’s similar to the way you get treated when driving a Lamborghini, in fact. People smile and let you into the traffic. They seem to enjoy just watching the thing rumble by. And the world rotates at a slightly less manic pace as a result.
Until you weld the accelerator open, that is, at which point your audience either tends to dive into the nearest hedge to take cover, or they just stand there motionless, wondering what on earth it is that just happened.