2023 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Fires on All Cylinders

While the clock on huge internal-combustion engines may be ticking down, we know the 2023 Aston Martin V12 Vantage will not be the last new model with twelve cylinders. The replacement for the Lamborghini Aventador will also have a V-12, albeit with hybrid assistance, and Ferrari’s upcoming Purosangue SUV will have one as well. Others may also attempt to sneak beneath the bar.

However, we do know that the new V12 Vantage will be the company’s final twinning of its largest engine and smallest sports vehicle. All markets will receive a limited edition of 333 automobiles, which sold out within days of being unveiled last year. While Aston hasn’t revealed the car’s official pricing, we’re told it’ll cost roughly $300,000—nearly as much as the bigger, grander, and faster DBS Superleggera, which employs the same 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged engine. Is it true that less is more?

2023 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Fires on All Cylinders

The V12 Vantage shares a lot of its structure with the V12 Speedster, which was built on a substantially modified Vantage Roadster platform last year. Despite this, the new V12 Vantage will only be available as a coupe, with the same engine tuning as the Speedster; at 690 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque, the Vantage isn’t far behind the DBS. The V12 uses a standard plate-type limited-slip differential instead of an electronically controlled active differential capable of biassing torque side to side.

Our first drive was in Wales, where we took advantage of some of the country’s best roads, including the tight, demanding Anglesey race circuit, which stands alongside the Irish Sea. While the V12 Vantage’s performance was impressive throughout, it became evident that, despite its power, the engine only spoke softly.

2023 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Fires on All Cylinders

While the standard V-8-powered Vantage is noisy and obnoxious, the V12 is far more laid-back. This is especially true of the exhaust, which burbles at low revs and zings when the engine is pushed hard, but never produces a lot of powerful bass frequencies. However, the same can be said for the remainder of the car’s dynamic behaviour. Despite having stiffer springs than its V-8 sibling (Aston claims rates that are 50 per cent firmer in the front and 40 per cent firmer in the rear), the V12 Vantage nevertheless rides smoothly over bumps. Even the Track setting on the adjustable dampers doesn’t feel too harsh for road use.

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The car we drove had a few refinement faults, some of which were due to its previous existence as a development car and others that were not. The loud whine from the differential is most likely due to the intensive use of development work, and we don’t expect customer cars’ diffs to sound like that. The V12 Vantage also had a problem we’ve seen with other carbon-roofed coupes: certain frequencies of noise were caught by the roof, resulting in a drone that was noticeable at constant speeds. After a few hours behind the wheel, the optional carbon bucket seats traded well-clamped lateral support for increased discomfort. Those looking for comfort can opt for the basic sports seats instead.

In terms of performance, though, the V12 Vantage is difficult to blame. Although the engine produces 108 pound-feet less torque than the DBS, it has more than enough power to make the car feel monstrously fast. The automatic gearbox’s proclivity for upshifting well below the redline of 6900 rpm appears to have minimal influence on acceleration.

However, it lacks the V8 Vantage’s edgy flair. During vigorous cornering, the inferior car’s dynamic differential pushes torque to the outer wheel, creating a thrilling impression of impending oversteer long before the rear tyres really lose traction. The V12’s standard limited-slip differential doesn’t do that, so turning and settling into a bend requires a little more effort, albeit the Pilot Sport 4S tyres provided excellent traction. The steering was also fantastic, with additional crispness and precision thanks to improved front geometry. The standard carbon-ceramic brakes on the V12 held up well under repeated hard use, albeit there was some audible grumbling at lower speeds.

2023 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Fires on All Cylinders

However, there is an undeniable mismatch between the V12’s aggressive look and its soft dynamic temperament. The massive rear wing, for example, contributes 450 pounds of peak downforce while also increasing the car’s impression of high-speed stability. However, it also blocks a significant portion of the view out of the back window. Aston claims that the car can be ordered without the wing, albeit this will result in less downforce.

We were delighted to have initially experienced the car on a fast-flowing road, which seems to be its favourite habitat, rather than the 2.1-mile circuit at Anglesey, which confirmed the impression of a grand tourer in track-rat clothes. The V12 Vantage, despite its speed, does not feel like a natural track car. Although the engine has no trouble motivating its huge weight—3957 pounds in its smallest configuration, according to Aston—the bulk was noticeable in Anglesey’s tighter turns. When cornering near its limit, the V12 feels nose-heavy and must be carefully shepherded into curves to prevent running wide, with traction control intervening heavily to keep the rear end under control.

The stability-control system has a more liberal Sport level, but we quickly noticed that this permits severe oversteer even at higher speeds, where such driver-flattering settings tend to increase intervention quietly. The end effect was undoubtedly exciting, if not particularly lovely. In comparison to the pace of a dual-clutch transmission, even the quickest changes of the automatic gearbox felt excessively slow on track. We quickly realised that short-shifting and trusting the engine’s torque range was easier on the track than on the highway.

The V12 Vantage is a car that is both appealing and perplexing. The aggressive styling indicates a supercar-like driving experience, but the dynamic reality is far closer to Aston’s legacy of comfortable grand tourers, such as a somewhat smaller and slightly slower version of the DBS Superleggera. Getting rid of the rear wing would reduce peak downforce, but it would also result in a more classically elegant car with the visual polish to match what’s behind the hood. If enough of the 333 buyers opt for that option, Aston may be forced to create another truly extreme V12 Vantage to use up their supply of massive aerodynamic aids. It’s possible to fantasise.

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