The Vantage has been the main-stay of the Aston Martin range since 2004, and although it’s been around for a while it’s been constantly tweaked and improved over the years. The V12 S designation means the highest output version of the sensational 6.0-litre powerplant, as well as the option of an updated seven-speed Sportshift III transmission.
There’s firmer suspension too, while the S designation also means some tasty exterior details to mark it out from the regular car. Slot all that into the Roadster body and you have a folding fabric roof to enjoy the sensations even more vividly.
Time hasn’t done any harm whatsoever to the Vantage’s shape, and in V12 S Roadster form it’s arguably looking its finest. Specified in a light metallic blue and with matt black alloy wheels it is still one of the most beautiful designs at any price. It’s not edgy or a slave to aerodynamics; just straight-up beautiful.
That goes hand-in-hand with its cut-glass image. Whether you’re a car nut or not Aston Martins have their own special cachet; it’s been named the UK’s coolest brand on three consecutive occasions.
It’s worth thinking about what you need and don’t need before packing your V12 S Roadster. The boot is a reasonable 239 litres, enough to swallow a couple of well-shaped bags and you can squeeze jackets and the odd thin item behind the seats, but otherwise it’s worth packing light. The two occupants have reasonable room too, only the wide transmission tunnel eating into elbow room a little, but it’s unlikely to bother anyone of a normal width.
Get settled in the driver’s seat and the familiar Vantage fascia still looks good, although the newer Vanquish layout is easier to use. The updated sat-nav is much improved however.
All other thoughts are extinguished as soon as you fire up the 6.0-litre V12 though. With a new exhaust system and a mighty 565bhp on offer, this car is all about the experience. Fold the roof and punch the Sport button to give it full voice and you’ll never look back.
The seven-speed automated gearbox works best in manual mode, which also allows you to exploit the performance. Despite the firepower, however, the V12 S can still cruise with ease. With the dampers in Normal mode it soaks up bumps impressively well, allowing you to bowl along at a reasonable pace and enjoy the sights and sounds as you go. Touring is not a problem.
But you’ll also want to turn the wick up for the full experience, and the V12 S is happy to oblige. You’ll rev it out to 7,000rpm over and over not just for the neck-snapping acceleration but the biblical soundtrack that goes with it. The steering is sharp and faithful, the carbon ceramic brakes faithful and the handling delightfully balanced whether you’re surgically precise or a total hooligan.
Consider the opposition the V12 S Roadster is up against and it stands up well in the value stakes. You get the highest output version of that mighty engine, carbon ceramic brakes, the unique alloy wheels, climate control and sat-nav all thrown in. Sure there’s a mountain of options to choose from but the standard £147,000 version is far from Spartan.
Anyone with £147,000 to spend should think very carefully about buying one right now. One of the finest aspects of Aston Martins is their universal appeal; you could pointlessly argue the V12 S Roadster is a ‘man’s’ car but in truth it’s much more of a unisex machine than a Porsche 911 or a Lamborghini ever could be; good taste definitely isn’t restricted to the male of the species.
On paper there are perhaps more sensible choices, but in the grand scheme of things sensibly spending £150k would get you a £10k used diesel hatchback and a swelled savings account but where’s the fun in that?