Aston Martin Valour 2024 review | First Drive

Designed for the purpose of offering up pure driving pleasure, the Valour reminds you why you fell in love with cars in the first place…

05th July
andrew_frankel_headshot.jpg Andrew Frankel


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In 1970, when Robin Hamilton took delivery of his Aston Martin DBS, complete with its brand new V8 engine, little could he have known than 54 years later, a million-pound motor car would be built in honour of its memory. Make that 110 million-pound motor cars, in fact. Even when he had turned it into a racing car and evolved its design so much it got its own ‘RHAM/1’ chassis number, even after he had raced it at Le Mans twice, he could have had no idea that, half a lifetime later it would inspire Aston Martin to create a brand new car in something close to its image.

So, what’s going on? Fast it may not have been, but ‘The Muncher’ (nicknamed thanks to its appetite for consumables), was perhaps the most brutally brilliant-looking Aston ever conceived. And as the company start to move the focus of its heritage to slightly less distant times than those occupied by Silver Birch DB5s, it is ‘The Muncher’ that fell almost inevitably into its purview.

Not that this was the first ‘Muncher’ homage; three years ago a one off car called the Victor was created for one exceptionally well-heeled client. It too echoed the shape of the original and the wave of enthusiasm with which it was met by press and public alike is as much a reason for the Valour’s creation as The Muncher itself.

We like

  • Brilliantly retro appearance
  • Superb marriage of V12 and manual gears
  • Remarkably easy to live with

We don't like

  • Ancient Mercedes infotainment
  • Control weights should be heavier
  • A little on the pricey side


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The Valour looks incredible. Not beautiful, but astonishingly impactful as an overall shape and fascinating in its detail. Clearly the reference material had a lot to do with this, but so too did the way the car is built. It would not be economically viable to create the extraordinary curves of the Valour using conventional mass production methods, and it was only because the car is built in such small numbers and with a carbon fibre body that such shapes could be squeezed out of it.

Inside and out the approach was not merely to ape ‘The Muncher.’ Instead, it celebrates the rather rudimentary approach taken with race car design in the 1970s and blend it with some distinctly modern touches. Examples abound, but perhaps nowhere more obviously than at the back where the typical traditional kicked up Kamm tail contrasts markedly with the large and bang up-to-date diffuser below. Likewise, the tall and traditional vertical side vents are offset by some distinctly up to date aero detailing of the side skirts.

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In terms of engineering however, it’s all pretty old school, although put together in such a way as to create a mechanical configuration that has never been seen before. Believe it or not, this is the first front engine car ever to marry a turbocharged V12 engine to a manual gearbox.

Structurally, it owes most to the just-replaced Vantage, though with the front end of the now defunct DBS. Which means it has Aston’s 5.2-litre, twin-turbo V12 in its nose. But really, the chief point of interest is at the other end where instead of an eight-speed automatic transmission there now lurks a six-speed manual – the same lovely gearbox used in the original V12 Vantage in 2009. It is not, nor does it bear any relation to the decidedly less lovely seven-speed manual used in the V12 Vantage S in 2016. It also has a simple mechanically locking limited slip differential, in place of the smarter, but heavier E-diff used in post 2018 Vantages.

Torque limitations of that Graziano sourced gearbox also means the engine has had to be mildly downrated, its output falling from the 770PS (566kW) of the final DBS to a still decidedly healthy 715PS (526kW).

Performance and Handling

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Visually, few cars have made a bolder statement of intent than this. One look at the Valour and you know exactly how it should drive. So, the question is whether the reality matches the promise. And the answer is that to a very great extent, it does.

The first thing to point out however, is that this is not a car in which to go breaking records, despite its meaner than mean appearance and all that power. It has so little downforce Aston Martin doesn’t even bother to give a figure, it comes on the same street-standard Michelin PS5S tyres as a regular Vantage and despite its carbon body, still weighs the best part of 1800kg. You’re never going to see a Nürburgring lap time.

First thoughts: it’s so easy. It rides really well, the cabin is very quiet, you can see out of it as well as you can from any other Aston coupé. Despite those appearances, this is not an intimidating car to drive. The gearbox is a delight. Perhaps a touch more cross gate springing from second into third would make it even better, but no owner is going to be complaining about the lovely clean and mechanical feel of the lever as it finds its way from one ratio to the next.

But the real magic here is that it feels matched to the V12 as if they were designed side by side, not brought together at the last minute. The way the revs naturally fall at the same rate the gear lever moves to produce seamless upshifts every time is quite delightful, and is only spoiled in the other direction by the absence of rev-matching technology. The free spinning nature of the V12 and non-linear way in which it gains revs can make really deft heel-and-toe changes more difficult than some wealthy owners would like. It’s a small quibble, but it’s there. A bigger complaint is that Aston Martin has left the final drive ratio alone, meaning the Valour will reach every speed with half of its gears still to go.

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But, leave it in third and point it down a really good road, and one of the great Aston Martin driving experiences awaits. The exact brief for this car was to make it as enjoyable to drive as it could possibly be, and it doesn’t disappoint. You just put the dampers in ‘Sport’ mode and let it go. Only then do you realise the chassis is at least as good as the powertrain. The steering is accurate, linear, and provides more feedback than most these days. There’s more than enough grip and genuinely outstanding traction for a car with its engine at one end and the driven wheels at the other. Thank the transaxle, diff, tyres, and soft rear springs for that.

String it all together, get that engine howling, the gear lever working hard, the steering writhing gently in your hands and the fact you’re not breaking the Land Speed Record will be an irrelevance.

Could and should Aston have gone further, made it even more like ‘The Muncher’ to drive with a much heavier feel to the all the major controls? Possibly. If you were to fault the way this car gets down a road, it would only be to say it’s almost too easy. Some owners might want their Valour to be a little more challenging and put up a bit of a fight. Others however may just be delighted it’s no harder to row along from one place to another than any other Aston. Just a stack more fun.


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It’s in here that the old-fashioned approach really trips the Valour up. It’s all very well designing new stuff cleverly enough that it both looks great and doffs its cap to the company’s heritage, but unless Aston Martin was planning on evoking imagery of a decade old Mercedes E-class estate, there’s something else going on here.

Which is that the electronic architecture underneath the Valour is previous generation Vantage, meaning poor graphics, Benz parts gear switches, no touchscreen, and a clunky old control wheel as a primary means of operation. Clearly all this is less important here than in more day-to-day cars, but there is a point here, insofar as it drags down the rest of the interior which can be quite spectacular.

At this level you can have pretty much any interior you’d like. If you have a favourite tree in your garden and would like your dashboard crafted from its branches, Aston would probably send around someone from Q-branch armed with an axe. But the test car’s cabin followed the contrasting old and new theme demonstrated by the exterior, expertly combining tweed and leather for the seats with carbon fibre used for the door cards and various bits of trim. And the gear lever is a wooden ball atop a steel shaft sprouting from an exposed gate.

It's an approach which could look spectacularly awful if not realised with real skill and taste, but in here at least, it really works.

Technology and Features

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If you were expecting next generation AI-enhanced gizmology, there isn’t any. The Valour is proudly and unapologetically old school. If you think the gearbox sounds old, remember its engine can trace its roots back to the Ford Indigo concept car, adapted and adopted by Aston Martin for use in the DB7 Vantage.

There’s some basic stuff, like electronically adjustable damping and different engine maps for the V12, not to mention massive carbon ceramic brake discs to keep it all under control, but that’s about it. And don’t even think that because it’s got a front spoiler, side skirts, and a chunky rear diffuser that the Valour is some kind of downforce monster; it’s not and, as a car entirely intended for road use, all the better for it.


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Such cars are particular things and easy to dismiss; they’re all sold, many and possibly even most will rarely be used, and they shine no significant light, technological or otherwise, on the current thinking or future direction of Aston Martin.

Or you could just put its price down to the fact it will be over twice as rare as a Valkyrie and look upon it as a car, pure and simple. And there you find something to celebrate – not just that it evokes memories of a bygone era when Aston Martins really were muscle cars in the most literal sense. There’s something here that’s even better than that: a car designed for the purpose of offering up pure driving pleasure. Not the fastest, in a straight line or around a corner, but one to wreath your face in smiles on every outing, one to remind you why you fell in love with cars in the first place. And flawed though the Valour is, in this most important regard, it is actually a runaway success



5.2-litres, twelve-cylinders, twin turbos


715PS (533kW)


750Nm (553lb ft) 


Six-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive

Kerb weight



3.4 seconds

Top speed

207 mph


n/a mpg

CO2 emissions

n/a g/km


£1,000,000 before options