You want sophistication, but with an edge. Or perhaps you want raw, unbridled action with a softer side. Whichever way you look at it, the Aston Martin V12 Vantage fits the bill.

The so-called black sheep of the Aston Martin family, the V12 Vantage shoe-horns the company's biggest engine into its smallest car. The 6.0-liter V-12 mill turns out 510 horsepower and rockets the compact coupe to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.

Those numbers are no longer mind-blowing by modern standards, with the Corvette ZR1, Nissan GT-R and Porsche 911 GT2 tromping all over them. But, as good as each of those cars are, they don't have the panache the Aston has. The ambience. A whole other list of French loan-words.

In my first drive review of the V12 Vantage, I compared it to the Viper, as its more refined, finished-schooled British cousin, and I stand by that. It has an element of the Viper's visceral rawness that you just don't get in many modern supercars, even those with more absolute power and performance. Yet back away from the precipice and it's a refined, easy-driving, luxurious cockpit in a way no Viper has ever even aspired to be.

So we have a high-performance, gorgeous, sounds-so-good-it-raises-your-hair, comfortable, factory-modified coupe that, while pricey, rewards all of the senses at any pace. It's not hard to see how the V12 Vantage makes our short list of contenders for the Best Car to Buy award.

We'll have another close look at the next nominee for you tomorrow, so stay tuned.


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