2016 V12 Vantage S
Base Price: $186,295
Performance: 0 to 60 kph: 3.7 seconds, 205 mph max speed
The V12 Vantage employs the same philosophy as American muscle cars of the 1960s: stuff your biggest engine in your smallest car and turn it into a hot rod. In this case, that means 12 British cylinders living under the bonnet of the brand’s two-seat coupe and roadster. And the engine isn’t dumbed down, either. With 565 horses on tap, it can push this car to a top speed of 205 mph, making it the fastest model in the range.
There is one problem, though, and Aston calls it the Sportshift II automated manual transmission. With a single clutch, the transmission pauses between gears like a regular manual would when you depress the clutch. The problem is that you don’t work the clutch, so you don’t know when the gear changes are coming and the car falls flat on its face between gears. It’s a disconcerting feeling that most brands have fixed with a dual-clutch transmission. It’s about time Aston Martin gets in on that trend, or at least gives the Vantage a traditional automatic like the rest of the lineup.
With all that weight stuffed under the hood, you would think the V12 Vantage would understeer like the family Camry. Thankfully, it doesn’t. The front midship design keeps enough of the engine behind the front axle to make this car rotate willingly. Team that with the shortest wheelbase in the lineup, and the V12 Vantage is the best Aston Martin for carving tight canyon roads. Turn those corners into gentler sweepers, though, and the Vanquish is the best performer.