THE GT12 Ė which was to be called GT3 until Porsche became uppity about the name Ė takes the V12 S as a base and makes it even more extreme. Think of it as Astonís answer to a 458 Speciale, only itís more exclusive and expensive. Aston will only build 100, all of which are sold, at £250,000 (AUD$545,300) each.
The changes run deep to justify that cost, though, and theyíre inspired by Astonís own GT3 race cars. Hence the wings, the splitters and the (optional) paint finish. This is the lowest, widest Vantage ever, some 50mm wider than standard and fitted with lightweight carbonfibre bumpers, front wings, bonnet and (an optional) roof.
At 1565kg, itís an impressive 100kg lighter than standard. The body alone is 20kg lighter, which isnít bad going given it now includes a massive wing on the bootlid. It, along with a new splitter and rear diffuser, makes T sufficient downforce that the top speed drops from the 330km/h of the V12 Vantage S to 298km/h. No complaints from us; thereís barely a circuit in the world where youíd hit more than that in a road car anyway.
With the weight decrease comes a significant power increase. The standard V12 Vantage S makes 421kW, which is plenty for its chassis.
The GT12ís 5.9-litre V12 receives magnesium inlet manifolds with revised geometry and a titanium exhaust system and now produces a walloping 441kW.
The 0-100km/h time falls by 0.2sec to 3.5sec, which may not sound like a great deal, but this is a front-engined, rear-wheel drive car, and traction is a limiting factor. So too is the singleclutch seven-speed robotised manual íbox, which, although having a new torque tube and being recalibrated for faster shifts, is less sophisticated than the best dual-clutch autos.
Thereís certainly a lot of old-school charm about the way the GT12 fires up. The noise, unadulterated by turbochargers, is pure and aggressive.
There are three-stage adjustable dampers with Normal, Sport and Track modes, and thereís also a Sport mode for the powertrain that sharpens the throttle and gearshifts and makes more noise, more often.
Leave both settings in their easy modes and the GT12 retains much of the charm that makes the V12 S so special. By no means is it a cosseting GT car like a DB9 Ė thereís too much road noise for that Ė but the underlying firmness never degrades into discomfort, while the steering is smooth, positive and, for the most part, uncorrupted by cambers or surface imperfections.
What itís like on a blistering race track is a verdict that will have to wait for another day, but on good roads itís an extremely well-sorted car.
The ride in Normal gives sufficient body control for sensible driving, but flicking through to Sport adds a spot of extra composure. Track is too firm for road driving, but the variations between modes arenít miles apart, and thatís exactly as it should be.
The rest of the chassis builds on the strengths that were already there.
Despite having a large-capacity V12 up front, the GT12 doesnít feel noseheavy.
Yes, it feels less agile than, say, a 458 Speciale or a 911 GT3, but itís definitely more sportscar than GT.
Trail the exceptional brakes into a corner and the nose stays firmly planted, and thereís fine mid-corner balance. On the way out of a bend, itís the traction control, rather than the throttle, that dictates how quickly youíll enter the next straight. Disable the electronics and it feels like thereís abundant opportunity to light up the rear tyres, but the throttle response and the noise, should you want, are truly spectacular.
So is the steering. A high point of the V12 Vantage S Ė superior in weight, feel and speed to a Ferrari F12ís rack Ė remains that way here.
Feedback is informative and natural in feel, telling you precisely what you want to know about the front wheels.
Put simply, the Vantage GT12 is a terrific driverís car. Itís raucous and loud when you want it to be yet acceptable when you donít. This is a sports/GT car right out of the old school, and itís all the better for it. M
Delicious V12 engine; sublime steering; aggression
Limited production run; outdated gearbox; huge price