When the factory decides to let you loose in the fastest road-going Aston ever built, the 600bhp V12 Vantage RS, for an afternoon on Silverstone’s rather fast south circuit, the pure elation only lasts a minute or two. It is joined rather smartly by anxiety, especially when you learn that this 400bhp per tonne super-bolide has no ABS, no ESP and no traction control. No safety net, in effect.
The car — driven and extensively photographed in next week’s magazine — is in effect a union of the compact V8 Vantage chassis and (further lightened) body with a DBS V12 engine whose power is lifted from 510 to 600bhp. because it doesn’t have to deliver production-car durability, it has its own special engine management and is allowed a 7600rpm rev limit, around 800rpm more than standard.
Aston claim a 4.0sec 0-60mph sprint, and around 8.5sec 0-100mph which, when you drive the car, doesn’t really seem quick enough. Those figures aren’t much different from the figures we returned for the DBS when we tested it recently. The car feels massively fast; the problem you have is moving the lever quickly enough, because you rapidly run out of revs (even using the non-standard shift-light system Aston’s engineers had fitted).
Keep your cool, ansd this is a really fast car. It has safe, secure turn in, stabilised with a whiff of understeer, and the firm steering has plenty of authority. In mid-corner its soft Pirelli P Zeros grip well, but it’s the exit that can be problematic. Laying down 600bhp in a fairly light supercar with no traction control, whose engineers admit that in production it will need a bigger footprint, demands restraint.
The car will powerslide in really quick bends, and its response to opposite lock is almost too quick, but the thing to do in bends quicker than 60-70 mph is very much to keep it in line.
What I like most about the RS is its single-mindedness, its simplicity of purpose. When you think about it, combining luxury with performance in cars like this is a bit weird. Why give a car luxurious seating when what serious drivers needs is firmness and perfect side-support (the RS has terrific, Alcantara-covered semi-race Recaros). And why bother with the £5000 sound system when many a driver would rather listen to music from the engine?
The RS seems bound for some kind of production, either as a £150,000 hard-edged special, or a slightly softer machine, perhaps slightly lower priced, with better equipment but less exclusivity. Personally, I hope they choose Plan A, and make it soon. This is the car to establish Aston at the very top of the performance tree.