Although manual gearboxes are beloved by car aficionados, they are largely unnecessary in the present era. Even while rev-matched downshifts might be pleasurable, dual-clutch gearboxes can change gears far more quickly than a human. That makes a stick shift the ideal choice for a current Aston Martin because they are absurd.
It doesn’t make sense to purchase an Aston Martin. One is much cooler than an ordinary car, so you buy one. All of an Aston’s selling qualities are purely arbitrary. Style, music, and a visceral driving experience that cannot be measured in statistics are everything. Aston is a small, independent company with decades of motorsports and 007 street notoriety. It must act in a unique way.
Therefore, it is not surprising that an Aston, notably the 2020 Aston Martin Vantage AMR, is one of the final strongholds of the manual transmission. 200 units can be produced worldwide at the $179,995 price. Don’t worry if you miss out; starting in early 2020, Aston will offer the manual transmission as a standard manufacturing option for the Vantage. But do you really want one, or has the clutch pedal reached its expiration date?
Movie star appearance
One of the most well-known brands in the automobile industry is Aston Martin, but a name doesn’t move metal by itself. Aston Martins must make a good first impression in order to win over potential customers who may be considering something else, as well as to live up to the name. The Vantage appears to have drove straight off a movie set because of this.
The Aston Martin DB10, a vehicle created especially for the James Bond film Spectre, shares some stylistic DNA with this vehicle, which may explain why it seems somewhat familiar. According to Motor Authority, designs for the Vantage were viewed by the movie’s makers while they were visiting Aston’s design facility. Aston created a separate model for the film, the DB10, because the vehicle wasn’t yet ready for market.
The Vantage’s grille is one of the more noticeable alterations made in the shift from screen to street. While the grille of the DB10 was tasteful and proportionate, it appears that Aston based the grille on the jaws of a baleen whale on the Vantage model. Additionally, the detailing is a little odd. However, the aggressive appearance helps to set off the Vantage from the larger DB11 and emphasizes how the new model is a complete departure from the outgoing model. The Mercedes-AMG GT, with which it shares an engine, looks positively cookie-cutter in comparison to the Vantage, which is a wonderful counterpoint to the Porsche 911’s recognizable design.
The decor is entirely professional. The materials have a premium leather jacket-like appearance and feel to them. The shifter, button for the various driving modes, and steering wheel are all precisely the proper size and placement. The computerized instrument cluster, which resembles a gunsight, only displays the information you require. You could hardly ask for more from a sports car.
The Vantage doesn’t function effectively as a car on its own, despite having a fantastic interior for a sports car. Although the seats are cozy, their bolstering and the restricted headroom may make it challenging for drivers without jockey-like bodies to find a comfortable position. It would be unjust to single out the Vantage because that is a problem with most sports cars. However, the disorganized arrangement of the buttons and switches is particularly the fault of Aston’s interior designers. It required some looking to locate things like the trunk and hood releases. We considered looking in the owner’s manual, but since the Vantage lacks a glovebox, we were unable to do so.
Additionally, the infotainment screen appears to be an afterthought. Although its 8.0-inch dimension is modest and its aesthetics are subpar, at least Aston offers both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Porsche, a rival, has been slow to offer the latter.
About that “box,”
Touchscreens and connection aren’t really important to the Vantage. Because this automobile is all about the driving experience, a manual transmission works so well with it.
The seven-speed transmission was purchased from the Italian company Graziano. It has an odd “dogleg” arrangement that shifts first gear to a different H-pattern position on the shifter. The order of the forward gears makes it, in theory, simpler to change into the proper gear while moving quickly. If you’ve always driven in a traditional manual style, this will make your head spin. But it’s clear where Aston was going with this. Compared to a traditional manual transmission, upshifting through the first three ratios is substantially simpler. But it’s also simple to downshift into first instead of third, which is not the best option.
Because this automobile is primarily about the driving experience, a manual is a great fit.
The gearbox also has AMshift, which smoothes out downshifts automatically and enables upshifting without removing your foot from the loud pedal. Even though a rev-matched downshift option like this is nothing new (the Nissan 370Z has had one for almost ten years), it is a welcome addition in this case. AMshift can also be turned off via a button next to the shifter, which is great if you take pride in your heel and toe technique.
The Vantage AMR comes equipped with a manual transmission, a mechanical limited-slip differential, carbon ceramic brakes, and forged wheels. All of these components work together to reduce the curb weight of the Vantage by 209 pounds, according to Aston, along with the transmission (which is lighter than the typical eight-speed automatic). The suspension calibration was also modified by engineers, but other than that, the AMR and a normal Vantage are identical.
Permission to delight
The same Mercedes-AMG-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is housed under the hood. From the AMG GT sports car to the GLC 63 SUV, this engine is found in what seems like an infinite number of Mercedes-Benz products, but it looks like an engine Aston would have created on its own. It propels you across the landscape while entertaining you thanks to its strength (the AMR produces 503 horsepower and 505 pound-feet of torque). Even sporty new automobiles often lack sufficient engine noise. This place has no issues with that. When you’re extremely high, the V8 bellows like an angry angel stoned on whiskey while gurgling like a coffee machine around town. It makes sense that Aston picked this engine for the DB11 and DBX SUV in addition to the Vantage.
However, the fact that this V8 has never been mated to a manual transmission makes a significant difference. In other vehicles, you are merely a passenger. All of that power is under your control in the Vantage AMR. The AMR loves to shift quickly, contrary to our fears that the V8’s abundant torque (which is somewhat less than that of the automatic Vantage) would make changing completely unnecessary. It’s sufficient to convince you to overlook the fact that this manual shifter isn’t the greatest. We had hoped for full HD, but it felt like medium quality in terms of sharpness.
The V8 engine in the Vantage propels you across the countryside while keeping you entertained.
According to Aston, the manual-transmission Vantage can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. Although the manual provides the Vantage a 5 mph greater peak speed, enabling it to reach an even 200 mph, it is still 0.3 seconds slower than the automatic. This means that the Mercedes-AMG GT C or Porsche 911 Turbo, both of which can be purchased for comparable money, are marginally slower than the Vantage AMR. However, the Porsche is a full second faster from 0 to 60 mph than the Mercedes. In the actual world, you’re probably going to see that.
But you’ll also be more aware of how nicely the Vantage handles corners. With this much power, a rear-wheel drive vehicle can be daunting, but not the Vantage. Your confidence is increased by the chassis configuration, which motivates you to accelerate slightly through each corner. The intuitive steering and the grippy front end deserve special appreciation, but the entire package is superb.
The useful information
Although the EPA hasn’t yet released fuel efficiency statistics for the manual transmission, the automatic 2020 Vantage is rated at 20 mpg combined (18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway). Even if it doesn’t sound spectacular, this is a little better than any Mercedes-AMG GT model that has the same engine. Despite the Acura NSX’s hybrid drivetrain, the Aston is only rated 1 mpg worse than the Acura, and it actually gets slightly higher highway mileage.
Aston Martin provides a 10-year, unlimited mileage corrosion warranty in addition to a three-year, unlimited mileage bumper-to-bumper warranty. Additionally, an extended warranty with seven additional years of coverage and unlimited miles is available for a fee. Expect an Aston Martin to need a little more maintenance than a Toyota Corolla because it is an expensive, hand-built vehicle.
There are currently no crash test rankings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
How DT would set up this vehicle
The 59 “Vantage 59” vehicles, out of the 200 Vantage AMRs planned for production, are the ones we’d be interested in purchasing. This special edition of a special edition honors Aston Martin’s triumph at the famed French race in 1959, the British automaker’s only victory there. The exterior of the Vantage 59 models is a snazzy Stirling Green and Lime. Although it is priced at $204,995 ($25,000 more than the competition), its low production will make it uncommon and maybe valuable. You’ll be more noticeable at your neighborhood Cars and Coffee in the interim.
The 2020 Aston Martin Vantage AMR itself lacks logic, much like the manual transmission. The Audi R8, Mercedes-AMG GT, and Porsche 911 Turbo are already fantastic choices if you want to spend six figures on a performance car with a dash of elegance, and they are all supported by more developed dealer networks. The Nissan GT-R and Acura NSX are more sophisticated approaches to the same idea. A V8 Jaguar F-Type and the impending 2020 Corvette Stingray both provide comparable thrills at a lower cost.
However, buying a sports automobile is not a wise decision. The Vantage AMR is the perfect example of the purpose of owning a sports car: to drive for its own reason, not just to go from place to place. Everything about it, from the way it looks to the sound of its engine to the way it urges a driver to fling it into corners, epitomizes this. The manual transmission was the final component that was needed to complete that picture and elevate the Vantage into something genuinely exceptional.
Do you need one?
Yes. The manual must live on.