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Aston Martin V-12 Vantage S sparks refined beauty and 565 hp, kills its stick


Aston Martin V-12 Vantage S sparks refined beauty and 565 hp, kills its stickCelebrating its centennial with lavish parades and a fancy concept car, Aston Martin has now revealed its new V-12 Vantage S: sporting more power, more torque, less weight, and, one presumes, a whole lot more excitement. The only spoiler? Its manual transmission is dead.

Aston’s V-12 Vantage is also gone, as the S model takes its place. For those with pockets brimming with silver, that doesn’t spell despair. In fact, it spells 55 additional horsepower from its 6.0-liter V-12, and a heap more low-end torque. Top speed now pegs 205 mph.

All 565 hp stem through Aston’s new seven-speed Sportshift III sequential gearbox, operated via the now customary paddle shifters. And while the transmission sheds 55 lbs. when compared to the outgoing manual transmission, one can’t help but mourn the loss of the V-12 Vantage’s most visceral attribute.

For Aston’s latest sports car, three-stage active damping comes adorned – a first for the Vantage range. The steering rack is quickened, and a new exhaust system derives from Aston’s One-77 hypercar.

Aesthetically, it’s hard for Aston Martin to go wrong – although I’m not sold on its CC100 Concept. The most noticeable, and questionable, change remains the grille, which does away with the aluminum vanes in favor of a carbon-fiber arrangement. In the end, it’s an Aston Martin, and it shines the way every Aston does – despite merely subtle visual tweaks throughout the British carmaker’s range.

The V-12 Vantage S is beautiful, it’s powerful, it’s light, and it’ll likely offer a driving experience as emotional as its fervent V-12 soundtrack. But the lack of a manual proves what we’ve all known for a while: The ecstasy deriving from a stick shift remains obsolete.