Aston Martin V12 Vantage, V-12 Engine In Compact Two-Seater Coupe

Latest of the now wide range of Aston Martins is the Aston Martin V12 Vantage - basically the V8 Vantage, but with the V-12 replacing the fine V-8. Surprisingly, despite the extra four cylinders, the new car has the same overall length and wheelbase as the smaller Vantage model.

The V12 Vantage is also pretty light, resulting in a 0-60 mph time of around 4.1 seconds, just making it into our exotic cars category. Top speed is 190 mph – both acceleration and top speed are similar the DBS, but the handling is more sporty.

With wide tracks and wheels, the new car is wider than the old one, which has enabled the use of a wider air intake and grille and air intake below, some of the air being diverted to the brakes. Wider fenders also give the car a more aggressive look.

Louvred hood and wider body

In keeping the Aston Martin understatement, the hollow sills are designed to channel air through to the back of the car instead of beneath, thus reducing lift. Louvred air outlets in the hood not only reduce temperature in the engine compartment, but also reduce lift, by drawing air out into a high pressure area.

At the rear, an enlarged spoiler helps reduce lift, while the under body has been redesigned to include an improved diffuser, which maintains down force, while directing air at the oil cooler.

Aston Martin V-12 6-liter engine 

The latest version of the Aston Martin 6.0 liter V-12 engine develops 510 bhp at 6,500 rpm, with maximum torque of 420 lb ft (570 Nm) way up there at at 5,750 rpm, an indication that this is an engine delivering power near the top end.

To get that extra power, a ‘by-pass’ engine air intake port that opens at 5,500 rpm is used with a revised induction system and re-profiled air inlet ports.

However, as so much power is available, the V12 Vantage will have plenty of performance at all speeds - unless you come up against a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano that is.

The fact is that 510 bhp sounds pretty good, but it is 90 bhp less than the output of the 6-liter 599 GTB Fiorano. And the Ferrari engine produces maximum torque at almost the same speed – 5,600 rpm. It is nothing new for Astons to have less power than Ferrari. The two cars weigh virtually the same, too, with the V12 Vantage weighing in at 3,704 lb ( 1,680 kg). However, the Ferrari is longer, with the complete engine behind the front axle.

As on the V8 Vantage, the six-speed manual gearbox is mounted at the rear in unit with the final-drive unit, the drive being transmitted through a torque tube from the engine. This helps put more weight on the rear wheels. Even so, squeezing the V-12 engine into the the front end has resulted in the front of the engine hanging forward of the front axle, rather than behind as in the case of the V8.

Front:rear weight distribution

Aston Martin quotes a front:rear weight distribution of 51:49, which is better than most conventional front-engine sports cars, but not quite so good for traction as on the V8.

Beneath the elegant body is the aluminum frame, made from extrusions and castings used on the V8 Vantage, and there is the same double wishbone front and rear suspension.

Stiffer suspension

However, the suspension has been modified extensively to suit the larger and heavier engine. The ride height of the V12 Vantage has also been lowered by 15 mm, and the spring rates are much stiffer - 45% stiffer all round - and the front anti-roll bar is 15% stiffer. To reduce under steer, the rear anti-roll bar is 75% stiffer than on the V8 Vantage.

Weight is saved, and braking performance improved by the use of carbon-ceramic brakes all round - 15.7 in (398 mm) diameter at the front and 14.2 in (360 mm) at the rear. There are six-pot front brake calipers and four at the rear.

Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires are fitted, 255/35 ZR19 at the front, and 295/30 ZR19, these being mounted on forged aluminum wheels.

Three-mode stability control

Aston Martin's stability control, which is fitted, now has extra modes of operation – it has normal, track and off settings, the track setting being ideal for aggressive driving.

Overall, the Aston Martin V12 Vantage is a sporty addition to the exotic car world, which will succeed owing to its combination of all-round performance and elegant styling. The low weight of 3,704 lb ( 1,680 kg) is a factor in the performance, giving a power:weight ratio of about 300 bhp per tonne. Even so, the performance is very similar to that of the DBS.

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