And So We Drive

Vantage AMR Preserves the Manual Transmission As Only Aston Martin Can


How can a modern sports car or GT be made to feel less sterile, more classic? Well the obvious way has to be to do away with paddleshift and stick with a manual transmission—along with rear-wheel drive of course. Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer has always promised to continue to supply a manual model long into the future, and this manual-equipped Vantage is one result of that.


Power is 503bhp, and the resultant performance is a 0-60mph time of 3.9 seconds and a 200mph top speed.

That’s slower than the auto, despite the weight saving, and though they apparently haven’t been compared yet, the manual would definitely be slower around the Nürburgring Nordschleife where the manual was developed. We drove it on the roads around the ‘Ring, and found it would let go on the greasy roads—so many wet leaves!—before the electronics pull you back. And concentration is definitely needed to get the gearshift right.

So though you’ll sometimes curse the gearbox, the manual Vantage feels more enjoyable, way more involving (that word again) and definitely more like a classic GT or even a muscle car than almost any other modern European-made car. Which would we choose? Manual every time.

I made the point last week that Aston Martin is uniquely positioned to make a performance SUV, and for similar reasons, its also well positioned to preserve the manual transmission.

No matter the transmission, the Vantage is never going to be the quickest car for the money. If you’re buying an Aston Martin, you’re already buying it for its character, not for its performance. Sacrificing a bit more performance for a lot more character is a great bet (as evidenced by everyone talking about it).

That’s a luxury that other brands, locked in constant competition to push the performance envelope, don’t have. The latest Ferrari can’t be seconds slower than its competition. The latest Aston Martin can.

by Tyler Carbone