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When it comes to high-end automobiles, you have your usual suspects.

If you're looking for something shouty, you can go get a Lamborghini just about anywhere these days. An all-new Ferrari is harder to come by due to the nature of their buying process and is, arguably, one of the greatest luxury brands on the planet. If you'd rather find yourself swaddled in comfort then you may want to scope out a Bentley or Rolls-Royce.

But, if you have an imagination, you won't get any of the above. That's because each are the go-to picks when you "make it." If you're a man or woman of class and distinction you get an Aston Martin.

2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

If you pull up to a restaurant in a Verde Ithaca Aventador, people won't say "cool," they'll mutter "what an ass" and keep going about their business. Once and a while I hear about a Ferrari getting vandalized. An Aston though, what happens with that? After parking a Flugplatz Blue V12 Vantage S at my office I was greeted with a note tucked into the door handle:

"THE BEST
YOU MADE MY DAY!
FANTASTIC
CAR!"

And when I went to valet the beaming blue V12 at my local W, a hotel employee came out saying this:

"Holy Aston Martin! We see Lamborghinis and Ferraris, but never Astons!"

Then he proceeded to gawk at the interior space and made of those heartbreaking faces when the motor turned over and the 6.0-liter 12-cylinder barked to life.

That's the beauty of an Aston, it actually detracts negativity. While some would argue a supercar should be brash and in your face, I would counter that I'd rather make someone's day and not drive around with a target on my back.

Now that I've spent about 300 words telling you how much this Vantage S was adored from others, I don't think I need to relay to you much more about its exterior. That's because I wouldn't change a single thing with its design. Personally, I'd opt for a different color if it were mine and that's it.


2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S










On the other hand, slipping behind the three-spoke Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel reveals a host of issues. Although the interior is sumptuously trimmed with a lot of leather surfaces, real metal trim bits and Alcantara seats, the technology is lacking.

The center stack is full of tiny buttons that are quite annoying to use and, sometimes, their purpose is not clearly marked. It doesn't help that the center stack's material is highly reflective and makes deciphering the display and buttons difficult. My particular test car had some brutal scratches on the gloss black trim. Utter savages must of had some wheel time before me.

For me, the icing on top of the cake is the navigation unit that I kept turned off during most of the time I had the test car. I tried using it a couple times to give myself a laugh and it actually wound up frustrating me.

There are several positive notes though. My tester was equipped with a Bang & Olufsen sound system with the dramatically rising tweeters when turned on. Although I only listened to it for approximately five minutes — why would you want to listen to music when you've got a V12 soundtrack? — I will say it was an impressive piece of kit.

Another plus: setting up a Bluetooth phone took seconds. That's something that can't always be said of today's rides.

Most importantly though the driving position is perfect in every way a driver would want it to be. The steering wheel falls right into your lap, the paddles — the only way to shift the automated manual transmission — are right sized where you won't find yourself frenetically reaching for a shift, and there's plenty of visibility in all directions.


2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S










Inserting the ridiculously named, glass key into the center stack, the Emotional Control Unit awakens the 6.0-liter V12 fury that awaits you. Producing a staggering 565 horsepower and 457 lb.-ft. of torque, there's no question that an animal is under the louvered hood. Zero to 60 happens in a claimed 3.7 seconds and after you plant your foot into the throttle I don't believe you'll second guess that figure.

Mated to this engine is an automated manual gearbox made by transmission specialists Graziano. Dubbed Sportshift III by Aston, it's an evolution of the previous Graziano units used in other Vantages. Although this 'box gets panned by just about everyone, I've always found it fun to use. It feels much more raw than a dual-clutch transmission and actually requires driver interaction to get shifts just right. I guarantee most of the folks giving this tranny a shellacking don't even realize you HAVE TO feather the throttle on shifts and can't keep their fat foot planted on the throttle.

Whipping this V12 Aston around it became very clear that you want to hear this exhaust note every chance you get. Around town motoring I will say that I rarely found myself above third gear. There's a certain tone this vehicle makes between 2,500-3,500 RPM that I couldn't get enough of. At highway speeds if you keep the vehicle in sixth passing is easy peasy and you can slip it into seventh gear if you want to try and earn a better MPG figure. Only provided the Aston for three days, I made the most of it and scored 9.9 MPG.

As you can imagine, I had quite a bit of fun and was NOT driving normally. 

For me though, there's two other critical elements that make the V12 Vantage S such a great auto. First, its steering is perfect. That's because its weighting is on the lighter side but incredibly sharp. It makes the Vantage feel tossable and nimble. In addition, the steering wheel actually provides feedback, which is something that's been long gone from modern performance cars. I like the fact I can feel the road's imperfections and the tires are communicating to me.

Second, being the most high-performing Aston — aside from the One-77 super car — means this car was engineered to be stiff. Really stiff. Although the adaptive dampers have three modes — Normal, Sport, Track — I found myself working the New York Tri-State area's switchbacks in the Normal mode. It can be a bit painful if you dial up the settings on pockmarked tarmac, but that's the price of admission in a vehicle with serious sporting credentials. Now here's the good part. Because of this attention to the suspension, when you're really working this Vantage S you gain a tremendous amount of confidence to push the car. The car's rigidity keeps body roll in check and the tires glued to the tarmac, which means you can drive it very fast heading into corners.

After driving the V12 Vantage S for what never felt like enough time, I knew it had happened. I had fallen in love with another car. Considering I've only felt so strong for about a handful of cars in my life, that speaks volumes.

Sure, there's faster and more technologically advanced alternatives for the money, but that get olds fast. Trust me, I know. If you want something with charm that will make you — and others — smile for a lifetime, then I don't think you have to look further.


The Good:

- In my opinion, this is hands down the best styled product on the market, full stop
- There's nothing quite like the sound of a howling Aston Martin V12
- Although it is a 550+ horsepower supercar, it is practical — usable trunk and plenty of outward visibility

The Bad:

- Aston Martin's use of materials on the center stack is abysmal — in any light the display is difficult to read at best
- Simply put, the navigation unit is obtuse with a poor GUI and poor controls to navigate menus
- If you're a conservative buyer and not willing to deal with what comes with a hand-built automobile, you probably should look at a Porsche Turbo S

The Lowdown:

- With cars like the Ferrari 458 Speciale and all-new Lamborghini Huracan on the way, it's a tough sell for the V12 Vantage S. They feature more advanced technology and ride on more advanced chassis; however, this is probably the last supercar that actually has road feel and a certain old-school quality to it that can't be missed. In addition, those cars use a V8 and V10 motor — they can't touch the awesomeness of a V12 even if the Aston puts down slower times at the track. Personally, if it were my dollars I'd have one of these. Plenty of cars can go fast but none have the charisma and style of the V12 Vantage S.

BONUS:

- According to Matthew Clark, the PR & brand communications manager for the U.S., we will receive the all-new V12 Vantage S Roadster here. Orders are being taken now and are expected to reach showrooms by Q1 2015.


2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S



















































































































REVIEW: As The Going Gets Tough, Aston Martin Drops Its MOST Serious Sports Car Yet — Can The V12 Vantage S Fend Off The Latest Exotica?

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