New seven-speed manual option for Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage S

Published: 06 April 2016

► New manual ’box for V12 Vantage
► 7 speeds, ‘dog-leg’ first gear
► Future Astons will keep manual option

While the world’s supercars and high-end sports cars continue to turn their back on manual gearboxes in favour of popular paddleshifts, Aston Martin is bucking the trend by adding a new seven-speed manual gearbox option to the V12 Vantage S.

The V12 Vantage S (which is the fastest, most focused Vantage model, short of the now sold-out GT12) was previously available only with the ‘Sportshift III’ paddle-shift automated manual gearbox, which continues alongside the new manual option.

Tell me more about this new seven-speed manual…

First gear’s positioned in a ‘dog-leg’ arrangement, to the left and down. It’s in contrast to the current manual Porsche 911, which positions seventh on its own at the top right. The seven-speed Chevrolet Corvette C7’s gate places seventh in the top right, similarly, but has reverse directly below.

The Aston’s new gearbox includes automatic throttle blipping on downshifts, so you can impress unsuspecting passengers with your seemingly perfect heel ’n’ toe technique, as well as a full-throttle upshift function for quicker acceleration.

‘We understand the importance of tradition,’ says Aston Martin’s product development director Ian Minards. ‘The true purist will always hanker for the tactility and connection offered by a manual transmission.

‘At a time when manual transmissions have almost entirely disappeared in high performance cars, this makes the manual V12 Vantage S a very special car indeed.’

In the US the manual Vantage V12 S will be sold as a special edition limited to 100 cars; in Europe there won’t be a limit on production.

The Vantage was originally designed to take both manual and auto gearboxes, though. Given that the global appetite for paddle-shifts, surely future Aston models won’t be built with manual gearboxes?

Not according to Aston CEO Dr Andy Palmer. ‘Broadening the scope of the V12 Vantage S with a manual transmission option is an indication of our desire to offer the keenest drivers a more analogue and immersive machine to enjoy,’ he says.

‘I’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate that the manual gearbox remains an integral part of our product plans and will do for many years to come.’

Gearbox options aside, what else has been added to the Vantage?

There’s a new ‘Sport-Plus’ option pack, including a choice of contrasting exterior colour graphics and 10-spoke alloys. As part of 2017 model year updates across Aston Martin’s model range in general, there’s a new ‘AMi III’ multimedia and sat-nav system with easier address input, faster loading times and updatable maps among other improvements, plus Apple CarPlay iPhone integration.

Additionally, for 2017, Aston has slimmed down the V8 Vantage model range. The only V8-engined Vantage now available is the top V8 S grade, sold as either a coupe or convertible Roadster.

First deliveries of the manual V12 Vantage S are set to start in autumn 2016.

Read more about the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer