Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi and McLaren might have given up on manual supercars, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few purists out there clinging gamely to a three-pedal setup. Aston Martin has joined Porsche in offering a high-end performance stick shift with the new V12 Vantage S, which lets you control a sonorous V12 motor with a dogleg, seven-speed manual transmission.
That's right, not only has Aston brought back the manual, it's followed in the footsteps of the Mercedes 190E Cosworth and E30 BMW M3 by putting first gear in the bottom left corner of the gate. Rather than forcing drivers to make the crucial second-to-third gear shift diagonally across the gate, dogleg boxes put second and third inline, because you're more likely to be shifting between those gears on a winding road or track. After all, how often do you need to change back into first gear on the move?
It might not be on the bleeding edge like your average dual-clutch transmission, but the Vantage gearbox does still have some tricks up its sleeve under the umbrella of AMSHIFT. Taking information from the propshaft, gear position and clutch position, the switchable system will automatically blip the throttle on downshifts for perfect rev matching every time, as well as executing smooth full throttle upshifts for seamless, uninterrupted acceleration.
Far from treating this car as a swansong for the stick shift, Aston Martin CEO, Andy Palmer, suggests the manual Vantage won't be a once off. "We're all enthusiasts here at Aston Martin. Building cars that offer something exceptional is what we do. Technology drives us forward, but we understand the importance of tradition.
"The true purist will always hanker for the tactility and connection offered by a manual transmission, so it has been a real pleasure to offer just that in our fastest and most focused model. At a time when manual transmissions have almost entirely disappeared in high performance cars, this makes the manual V12 Vantage S a very special car indeed"
Thanks to its clever AMSHIFT tech, the manual V12 Vantage hits 100 km/h (62 mph) in the same 3.9 seconds as its automatic counterpart, and will stretch to the same 330 km/h (205 mph) top speed. Power from the 6.0-liter V12 is unchanged at 421 kW (565 hp), and peak torque is still pegged at 620 Nm (457 lb-ft).
As well as adding the stick-shift option, Aston Martin has used the 2017 model year update to offer up a new Sport-Plus styling package. Speccing the new package brings no-cost contrast paintwork on the outside along with ten-spoke light alloy wheels, while the interior is tarted up with contrast stitching and stripes.
The update also brings the Vantage interior up to date with the latest AMi 3 infotainment system, finally giving buyers access to the same Apple CarPlay functionality you get on ultra-exclusive cars like the VW Passat, Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata.
Deliveries are scheduled to start during the third quarter of 2016. As it did with the new DB11, Aston Martin has supplied some downright gorgeous press shots for its new Vantage, so check out the gallery to see one of the world's most beautiful cars against a backdrop of stunning countryside.
Source: Aston MartinView gallery - 33 images