ASTON MARTIN SHIFTS GEAR TO OFFER A SEVEN SPEED-SPEED MANUAL VANTAGE AMR

ASTON MARTIN SHIFTS GEAR TO OFFER A SEVEN SPEED-SPEED MANUAL VANTAGE AMR

Initially, just 200 Vantage AMR models will be produced, with varying prices
There will be 59 special editions called ‘Vantage 59’ that cost £164,995 
The remaining 141 of the first run of 200 -will cost from £149,995
This is no normal manual as it features a 'dog-leg’ first gear - we've driven it

Aston Martin has quickly shifted gear to produce a hands-on manual version of its new Vantage model – and I’ve just been driving it.

In fact it has a magnificent seven motor sport-inspired manual forward gears that create added driver involvement and a greater physical attachment to the 200mph mph coupe - both from pressing down the clutch and slotting in the gear-shifts – plus an extra quirky twist you need to quickly master.

From next year seven manual gears will be a no-cost alternative option to the eight-speed automatic gearbox with which the the £121,000 Vantage was originally launched.

Initially, just 200 customers will have the chance – at a price - to jump the queue choose the manual. These are the early-bird buyers of two limited edition Vantage AMRs, first deliveries of which are about to be made.

Of these, just 59 special editions called ‘Vantage 59’ and costing £164,995 in a special Stirling Green and Lime exterior paintwork, a Dark Knight and alcantara interior trim, and finished with a signature AMR lime stripe and stitch, have been created to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Aston Martin’s historic win with a DBR1 in the 1959 Le Mans 24 hour race.

The remaining 141 of the first run of 200 - costing from £149,995 - will be available in a choice Sabiro Blue, Onyx Black, China Grey or White Stone. Only a few of these remain.
And from next year, all buyers of new Vantages will be able to specify a seven-speed manual option – with around 1 in 10 customers expected to do so.

Driving it requires a little adaption however.

This is a powerful beast with a 4.0 litre 510 horse-power twin turbo V8 engine with scintillating acceleration from rest to 60mph in just 3.9 seconds, around 0.4 seconds slower than the automatic. 

But don’t expect to get any thanks from green groups like Extinction Rebellion. It’ll manage only 25.7mpg with hefty CO2 emissions of 268g/km.
The marginal loss of pace in comparison to the automatic is more than made up for by the enhanced feeling of really driving the manual car that creates the added excitement, engagement and exhilaration.

In the eight-speed auto you simply set it to ‘drive’ and – unless feeling like a more engaging play on the manual override paddles on the steering wheel – let the car do the rest. It’s a fine and exciting experience. But some people want more.

With the seven-speed manual transmission developed by Dana Graziano you need to do more work.Of course there’s an extra third pedal – the clutch. But here’s the twist. It has a ‘dog-leg’ first gear.

That means instead of pressing the clutch and pushing the gear ‘up’ to first – as it traditional on most manuals – you actually pull the hand-stiched leather clad gear-stick ‘down’ to first to get yourself on your way. 

The reverse ‘R’ gear is actually where first gear usually is.

This emulates classic racing gears. The idea is that, once you’ve got moving, it is second to seventh gears that you will use most. And it is these that are set in the traditional ‘double-H’ pattern.
In truth, it takes a little getting used to – a bit like going back to your days as a learner driver. I was probably a little too timid to begin with and over-thinking it. 

However, once you let go and trust your instincts to change gear on feel and engine sound, it all starts to make sense.

I was reminded of Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi’s advice to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars – just feel the force and go with it. It works. And there’s a wonderful exhaust soundtrack to go alongside.

Once settled in, I was bowled over by the fun factor. You do really engage with this car.

My drive took place on public roads around the legendary Nurburgring circuit in the Eifel region of Germany between the Rivers Rhine and Moselle – though not actually on the track itself.

A bit of a downpour at one stage made the roads very wet and slippery. But the car coped well and at one stage I felt the active safety system kick in momentarily to mitigate a skittery bit of twitch.

Very advanced drivers – especially on the track - may choose to turn all those helpful aids, but frankly I’m always glad of them.

Again for advanced drivers there’s a special 'AMSHIFT’ system which uses the clutch, gear-position, prop-shaft sensors, and the engine management programme to mimic the technique of ‘heel and toe’ downshifts.

 

This is the act of blipping the throttle while braking and changing gear to allow smoother deceleration and cornering. It also allows shifting up a gear at full throttle to maximise smoothness with minimal loss of acceleration.

The Vantage AMR manual transmission has been specially engineered by Aston Martin’s leading dynamics team, headed by chief engineer Matt Becker, from the team’s base at Silverstone Race Circuit.

Removing the automatic transmission and including carbon ceramic brakes as standard removes 95kg of weight helping create a purer, more rewarding and engaging driver experience and the much desired 50:50 balance of weight to help handling.

 

Of the run of 200 first edition cars, 141 - costing from £149,995 - will be available in a choice Sabiro Blue (pictured), Onyx Black, China Grey or White Stone. Only a few of these remain.

Aston Martin has recently revealed pictures of a prototype of its Vantage Roadster which is also expected to be offered with a seven-speed manual option after it arrives in showrooms just in time for the sunshine next Spring. 

Other than the fabric top, the car is expected to have the same engine and other specifications as the coupe version. But the price will be in excess of the £120,900 base price for the coupe version – and closer to £130,000.

One disappointment from the maker of James Bond’s favourite car. 

There’s no flip-top on the manual gear stick with which to reveal a button to activate a passenger ejector seat, as on the original DB5 from the 007 movie Goldfinger. 

Can’t have everything, I suppose. Pity though.

Credited Daily Mail Online