Aston Martin's V12 Vantage RS. Big engine, little car. It’s a concept many of the great performance cars have employed. Take a powerful engine from your biggest car and stuff it into your smallest car to create a proper factory hot rod. In this case Aston has wedged the 600bhp V12 from no less than the DBRS9 racer under the bonnet of the poor little Vantage coupe, making for a power to weight ratio of 392bhp per tonne. And now CAR has taken the V12-powered Vantage RS, the company’s craziest car since the bruiser Vantage of the late 1990’s, on a few full throttle laps of France’s Paul Ricard circuit.
So it’s not short of grunt?
Aston reckons on a sub 4.0sec 0-60mph time and around 8.5sec to 100mph which would make it fractionally quicker than a DBS. But it feels far more savage from the driving seat and a fully race prepared DBRS9 sharing the track with us was no quicker on the straights. The speedo isn’t plugged in, 5000rpm in sixth equates to over 170mph, and Aston hopes that given a longer straight the RS would crack 200mph. And with the DBS’s brilliant carbon stoppers at each corner but 165kg less to deal with the RS does slowing as well as it does going.
Click 'Next' to read the rest of our drive of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage RS
But surely all that weight up front kills the handling balance?
Incredibly Aston has managed to reduce the Vantage’s kerb weight by 100kg despite swapping the V8 for a 60kg heavier engine with four extra cylinders. A lighter bonnet, carbon brakes, carbon-backed seats and a general absence of sound proofing are the heroes here.
But yes, the weight distribution has shifted from the standard car’s 48:52 front:rear to a more nose heavy 52:48. Not that it feels that way out on the circuit. Instead of the nose-ploughing understeer you expect, the RS digs in and does exactly what you ask of it. Point. And shoot. Such composure is incredible for a car that’s effectively a concept and hasn’t been near a wind tunnel. I think you’d want to do some tunnel testing of your own though. As you can probably imagine, it sounds…
…incredible, I bet. What’s not to like, fuel bills aside?
The steering isn’t quite as communicative as a Porsche 911 GT3’s and the addition of adaptive damping and some aero work would probably make it feel even more stable at higher speed. Both will happen when the car starts production although you can expect to pay handsomely for the privilege of owning Aston’s craziest road car. Somewhere in the region of £150,000 we’d guess.
Don’t believe the concept line, there’s no doubt that Aston will build this car. Expect it to hit showrooms this time next year, the first of a stream of hardcore Astons likely to wear an R badge, RS being deemed too much a Porsche tag. And on this showing it looks likely to be well worth the wait.
For our full first drive of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage RS concept make sure you buy the May issue of CAR Magazine, out 26 March 2008