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2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

  • Range-topping Aston Martin Vantage driven
  • 565bhp and 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds
  • On sale now, priced from Β£138,000

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The Aston Martin V12 Vantage S is the updated, top-spec version of Aston Martin’s Vantage sports car.

Aston Martin's goal with the new 'S' version of the V12 Vantage was to broaden its appeal while increasing performance.

Out goes the old car's six-speed manual gearbox, replaced with the latest version of Aston's seven-speed sequential manual paddle-shift 'box.

Adaptive dampers are also new, as is the variable-ratio steering.

Meanwhile, power from the V12 engine is bumped from 510bhp to 565bhp, and the car is 65kg lighter. The result is the fastest Aston to date - aside from the Β£1.5 million One-77.

What's the 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S like to drive?

Some people may miss the purity of the old six-speed manual gearbox, and everyone will wish the seven-speed paddle-shift gearbox was far smoother, but the rest of the package is spot-on.

The steering provides wonderful feedback, while the cornering grip with the standard-fit Pirelli Corsa track-biased tyres (less aggressive tyres are a no-cost option) is simply phenomenal.

Unsurprisingly, given the focused nature of the S, the ride is very stiff on rougher sections of road. However, the three-stage adaptive dampers help a bit when they're in their softest setting, and body control is fantastic.

Traction in the dry is never an issue, either, despite the increase in power. The stability control is perfectly tuned, especially in the more relaxed track mode, while the standard carbon-ceramic brakes add to your confidence because they offer excellent pedal feel and performance, no matter how hard they’re worked.

As a bonus, the new One-77-derived exhaust system helps the engine express its wonderful voice, especially when the Sport button is depressed.

What's the 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S like inside?

A mixture of lovely, handcrafted details combined with dated switchgear and electronics.

Sure, DAB is finally standard on the Vantage, but the navigation system is frustrating. Its antiquated interface and poor screen size and resolution clearly shows its age, despite recent upgrades to Garmin-based software.

The interior is also littered with a plethora of small buttons that feel randomly positioned. It’s obviously a step back in time compared with the set-up in the company’s Vanquish models, let alone cars from rival manufacturers.

The standard seats are fine and offer good adjustability, but the optional Β£2495 carbonfibre lightweight seats are worth considering because they feel far more fitting given the performance nature of the V12 Vantage S.

As with any Aston, you can go crazy with various interior trim options. One suggestion is to stick with the standard Alcantara steering wheel, because it feels fantastic and is very grippy.

Should I buy one?

If you’re looking for a front-engined, British take on a Porsche 911 GT3, this Aston may be for you.

The big asterisk on that statement is in regards to the gearbox. It's nowhere near as smooth as the best dual-clutch or conventional automatics.

If you’re the type of person who just leaves the transmission in drive and relies on the car to choose the right gear, you’ll be sorely disappointed with the V12 Vantage S.

It’s a bit better at picking the proper ratio with the Sport button depressed, but the gearbox really only works effectively when it's in manual mode and the driver lifts off the throttle during upshifts.

WeοΏ½οΏ½οΏ½re doubtful this gearbox set-up will actually broaden the appeal of the V12 Vantage S.

Still, if you can get past the gearbox, the V12 Vantage S still has huge appeal. It's seriously fast and provides an aural experience few cars can match.

What Car? says...

Rivals:

Bentley Continental GT Speed

Porsche 911 GT3

Engine size 5.9-litre V12

Price from Β£138,000

Power 565bhp

Torque 457lb ft

0-60**mph** 3.7 seconds

Top speed 205mph

Fuel economy 19.2mpg

CO2 emissions 343g/km

By Marc Noordeloos