As part of our 100|OCT Club drives, we're going to be borrowing exotic cars from different dealerships and manufacturers and put them through the ringer of enthusiast driving, while promoting them to our 100|OCT Club members both offline on our drives, as well as online through social media and through this website.
So welcome to our first 100|OCT blog post, featuring the 2015 Aston Martin Vantage V12 S!
This past Saturday, we had our first 100|OCT Club drive and Los Gatos Luxury Cars, one of the sponsors of our Cars and Croissants, loaned us a great looking Aston Martin Vantage V12 S. The color is named Giallo Orion, a gorgeous pearl yellow with an Italian name because it is actually a Lamborghini color. And boy does it look amazing! I mean, look at it pop under the sun amongst these other exotics on the drive. There is none quite like it!
The Aston Martin Vantage has always had an exquisite classy look to me. And this one is another great example. The Vantage V12 S sports carbon fiber everywhere, outside and inside. The inside was very subtle as the carbon fiber around the console and on the door panels was not clear coated, and therefore had that matte finish. And the outside was perfect with carbon fiber front splitter, diffuser and side blades. That wet finish on the outside was the perfect complement for that gorgeous paint! All these black accents, in addition to the black grilles on the hood, contrasted perfectly against that pearl yellow body.
But let's talk about driving!
I had driven an Aston Martin Vantage V8, with a SportShift transmission before. I remember then being very worried about the single clutch transmission as my only other experience with a single clutch before was with a BMW 335i with SMG -- oh dear, that was not fun -- and yet, that Aston Martin Vantage V8 had ended up "not being as bad as I was afraid it was going to be." Yes, it felt a bit weird at first to have this 1-second gap when upshifting, but it wasn't a problem when driving in anger. It was more of a problem when cruising around town, as your neck would first plunge forward when the clutch would disengage and back when it would reengage. This wasn't a problem at speed because you would be ready for anything. But then, you could just lift your foot from the gas pedal when upshifting (just like you would, driving a stick shift) and it would be fine.
Well, this yellow Vantage V12 S was equipped with the SportShift III -- I think -- and it was definitely an improvement. You still have all the effects described above, but just not as much. So if you're driving enthusiastically, it's not a problem, and if you're cruising around town, well, it shifts faster than you can actually lift your foot off the gas and put it back down, so to summarize, I'd say: "sure it's not a dual clutch, but I could live with it, and live very well."
But let's talk about the real improvement on the last Aston Martin Vantage I drove: the engine!
I know, it's not fair to compare the V8 and the V12, but... It is what I have as a reference. The V8 was fun. It was an older Vantage so it was the 4.3-liter V8, not even the 2009 and up upgrade of 4.7-liter. It sounded great, but it sure wasn't the fastest. It really was the entry-level exotic engine, in an entry-level exotic car...
Well, this V12 is NOT an entry-level exotic engine. With 565 hp and 457 lb ft of torque, this 6.0-liter normally aspirated engine propels you from 0 to 60mph in 3.7 seconds. And it sounds amazing doing it! And you WILL pucker up when you go full throttle in a straight line as you will feel the tires working over time to pass that power to the ground! You will feel the rear try to go faster than the front, I guarantee it. This engine makes the car a total beast, and this sure isn't your typical entry-level exotic car anymore!
There was one area I was worried about, comparing the Vantage V8 and the Vantage V12, and it was handling. I mean, that V12 engine at the front has to be heavier, right? So the car will be more nose-heavy and therefore will have to have some understeer to it, no? Well, no, not really. I was very surprised to not feel any understeer. I do not know how this was achieved. Is the V12 engine mounted further back under the hood? Have they improved the stiffness of the car? Are they using bigger front tires so the car's front wheels don't break away in the turns? I don't know. BUT this is one amazing handling car. I was pushing it in the twisties (all within reasons, obviously, as I like living, and I can't afford to be the one to wipe out on a drive I lead), but it didn't break away once. And the first few cars behind me (a couple Ferrari California T) will tell you that I was pushing it a bit. They were very impressed by the car's handling as well!
Now let's talk money! The guys at Los Gatos Luxury Cars are trying to convince me to get one, and I'm having a very hard time saying no. I mean, find me another amazing looking, perfect sounding, great handling beast of an exotic car for a better deal and I'll listen. A 2-year lease, with 5,000 miles a year -- I would up that to 7,500 a year, personally -- will cost you only $5,000 down and $1,800 a month. At $4.82 per mile, this is a far cry from the $24 a mile a lease on a Lamborghini Huracan will cost you. And you can have just about as much fun!
Oh yeah, and you'll want to wear a tuxedo, speak with a British accent and order martinis, shaken not stirred. Just because.
If you're interested in acquiring this car or one like it -- they currently have a white one, a blue one and a burnt orange one -- please contact Wout Stokman at Los Gatos Luxury Cars. He can be reached at (408) 827-3731. Tell him Benoît from 100|OCT sent you and he will take even better care of you!