By the end of this year, Aston Martin will unleash on the world market the fastest, most powerful roadster it has ever made…and there will be much rejoicing.
The V12 Vantage S Roadster has a 6.0-liter V12 that barely fits under its unique louvered hood. It sends 565 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque to the latest-generation Sportshift III transaxle mounted way out back, and from there sends you and one lucky passenger merrily –- and very quickly -- on your way.
With the massive (just pop the hood and gape at it) 6.0-liter V12, Aston Martin says the new Roadster launches from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and keeps going until it hits 201 mph. While we didn’t track-test the convertible during our three-day drive, we don’t doubt either of those numbers. From the moment you fire up the V12 in your driveway and wake up neighbors for two blocks around (there’s no sneaking in late at night in this car), you know this is something special.
The Roadster comes on the heels of last year’s V12 Vantage S Coupe and shares most of its extruded, bonded aluminum frame. For anyone keeping score at home, there are now 11 variations of Aston Martin’s Vertical-Horizontal “philosophy,” or architecture, five of which are one form or another of Vantage. The Vantage line starts with the “entry-level” (ha!) V8 Vantage, while the V12 Vantage S Roadster sits at the top of the Vantage line, even above the V8-powered and racy-looking N430 with its lipstick grille. The V12 is the same one powering the Vanquish Volante, where Volante also means roadster, or what proles might call a convertible. So our featured car is a less-expensive Aston Martin V12 convertible, basically.
The bark from Aston's 565-hp V12 is enough to wake the dead. Or at least the neighbors.PHOTO BY MARK VAUGHN / AUTOWEEK
What's it like to drive?
Up and out of Los Angeles on Hwy. 2, into the mountains, the fully tuned down pipes and sportif muffler –- derived from that found on the famous One-77 hypercar -- bounced exhaust notes off the canyon walls that sounded like Beelzebub gargling bowling balls. Dropping the power top –- which you obviously can’t do on the Coupe -- just makes the experience all the more visceral and engaging. On that wide-open, midweek-empty mountain pass, the car was in its element. The Pirelli P Zero Corsas -- 255/35ZR19 front and 295/30ZR19 rear -– sang over the pavement with glee.
The Roadster is a stable platform from which to explore the limits of all that horsepower. Smooth, progressive throttle application is rewarded with powerful acceleration from almost any gear. While peak torque may not hit until way up at 5,750 rpm, the torque band is so wide you almost don’t need a transmission (use it anyway -- at full tilt it’s fast and fun to operate.) The mighty V12 makes 376 lb-ft of its torque starting at just 1,000 rpm; that’s barely above idle. Peak torque of 457 lb-ft is more than enough to move the 3,847-pound Aston up the hill. Easing down to the apexes, we were glad for the paddle shifters, if only to kick the tone of the exhaust note up and down as we drove.
What is it?The 2015 V12 Vantage S is the latest evolution of the sports car introduced in 2005, as the entry point to Aston Martin's lineup. It essentially melds the current, track-tuned V8 Vantage S ...
Regardless, it’s a joy to drive. Mostly. Yes, even though it’s gorgeous to look at, you can still find irritating things about the coming Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster, as you can with most current Astons. It’s the same thing with supermodels (we assume): after a while they might irritate you. And you might irritate them. For instance:
-- The fob-like crystal key is still silly and awkward to use.
-- The front splitter is too low. Yes, you need it at 201 mph to keep the car on the ground, but at 2 mph, it scrapes anything larger than a walnut.
-- The push-button shifter buttons are maddening. You have to hold your finger down on the button for about a second and a half to assure the transmission shifts into gear.
-- Once underway, the Sportshift III ASM (auto-shift manual) transmission pauses and cuts power for what seems like a half-second or so between each shift. It does this seven times up each time you leave the line, at whatever speed.
But we know Aston’s new CEO Andrew Palmer (a transmission man by training, btw) can fix all this stuff by the next model changeover. And the above whines would not be deal-breakers for us and shouldn’t be for you, but can’t we expect more for our 200 grand?
Aston interiors are generally beautiful, but they can be maddening too.PHOTO BY ASTON MARTIN
Do you want it?
While the V12 Vantage S Roadster is on sale now, you will have to wait until Christmas for the first deliveries (best Christmas present ever!!!). Deliveries will start in earnest in January. Expect most V12 Vantage S Roadsters to go for around $210,000. Our car was loaded with some special, customized Q content that boosted it to $224,986.
Should you get this or the Ferrari California or 458 Spyder? Or maybe the Maserati Granturismo Convertible? We say buy one of each just to be sure.
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