Since its unfortunate experience with the slow-selling and notoriously unreliable Lagonda, Aston Martin has avoided reinventing the wheel. Simply look at the recent updates to the DB9 and the Rapide S for proof. Now the V12 Vantage, which was first revealed as a V-8–powered concept in 2003, is being updated to S specification, yet it doesn’t look too dissimilar from its predecessor. But it does benefit from Aston’s favorite party trick: more power. Not only is the 2014 V12 Vantage S the most powerful member of its venerable family, it’s also said to be the fastest Aston Martin ever built—with the notable exception of the ultra-rare One-77.
While we mourn the loss of yet another row-your-own option in a supercar, the new paddle-shifted gearbox offers two distinct advantages over the obsolete six-speed. The new transmission is a whopping 55 pounds lighter, and it helps translate the 5.9-liter’s extra 55 ponies into a top speed of 205 mph—up from a redline-limited 190 mph in the previous V12 Vantage.
When we first drove the V12 Vantage, we described its soundtrack as "pure music," and the advent of a new exhaust system derived from the One-77 promises to evoke even more florid language. In fact, throttle response, transmission shift time and strategy, and exhaust sound can be manipulated by means of a three-stage system that allows drivers to select Normal, Sport, or Track modes. The system also adjusts the adaptive damping system and steering assistance, a function of the new, ZF-supplied power steering that features a quicker ratio than before.
Even a decade after it was first shown, the design of the Vantage series—conceived by Ian Callum and subsequently developed under Henrik Fisker—remains aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps that's why visual changes from the outgoing V12 Vantage to the incoming V12 Vantage S are rather modest. They include a carbon-fiber grille with black carbon-fiber or silver-mesh elements, forged 10-spoke alloy wheels, and a black roof.
Thanks to: Car and Driver