FEB 18th 2015

Vantage GT3: An Aston to take on McLaren, Ferrari... and another car called GT3 from Porsche

Supercars are all well and good but what’s a supercar without a GT3 version in the range? If Aston Martin didn’t know that before, it does now…

Here, then, is the ultimate road racer from Gaydon. The Vantage GT3, based on the already storming V12 Vantage S but with more of everything and a claim on being Aston’s quickest accelerating road car, ever.

And also, Aston hopes, a claim on stardom at the Geneva Motor Show in March, where GT3 is going to be definite flavour of the month.

Before then, Goodwood Road & Racing can bring you this early look-see at a car that new Aston boss Andy Palmer must be hoping will – along with the equally new Aston Martin Vulcan racer – take the fight right to Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche’s front door.

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The first thing to say is: you won’t miss it. And not just because in true Aston style someone’s been at it with an orange highlighter pen (four other two-tone liveries are available).

Here surely is the most altered of the roadgoing GT3 breed. ‘Comprehensively re-engineered and significantly restyled’, says Aston, and from the pictures at least it’s difficult to argue with that.

There is of course a reason for this: in many ways this is a road legal version of the Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 that the firm has campaigned successfully since 2012. Even so, the new wide-body styling does give the Vantage GT3 a character all its own.

As does the aero package. It means a 20mph cut in max speed over the standard V12 Vantage S’s 205mph. But Aston says that for track use the extra downforce created has a ‘profound effect’ on the car’s handling.

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So, some fast facts ahead of its official unveiling at the Geneva show on 3 March.

V12 of course, 600bhp. Paddleshift transmission only. 1565kg. Wide track, wide body. Track-focused aero with front splitter and rear wing. Brembo carbon ceramic stoppers. 185mph and 0-62mph in 3.7secs (standard road car: 3.9).

And price? £250,000 on the road. Perhaps more important, there will not be more than 100 of them. And Aston claims it has already ‘secured a large number of initial deposits’.

Quickest roadgoing Aston, limited edition, one of the last outings for the great V12 engine, track handling, looks to die for… this could be a keeper. But first it must deliver on road and track.

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The racing GT3’s record (class win at Le Mans last year) suggests a yes to that, and Aston’s pitch is that this ‘race-derived Vantage’ blends ‘supreme driveability on the road, and uncompromising dynamic performance on track’.

At this stage the key figures are still predictions, however. The engine can give 600bhp – and does in the race car – but actual horsepower for production is yet to be confirmed, though magnesium inlet manifolds, magnesium torque tube and titanium exhaust are all carried over to the GT3 from the racer. Without neat stuff like that the standard V12 Vantage S has ‘only’ 565bhp.

Weight might also vary. This is no stripped-out special – plenty of leather, Alcantara, plush carpet and electronic toys are included – but even so there are options boxes to be ticked (and cost added) to achieve optimum weight.

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The mainly-aluminium VH body structure gets the wide-body look thanks to carbon-fibre sills and wheelarches. Also carbon are the bumpers, bonnet, front splitter, rear wing and diffuser. The battery is a lightweight lithium ion unit from the race car.

But then there are the tick boxes: for carbon roof, front grille, tailgate and mirror housings. And if you are really serious about avoiding the avoirdupois you can opt for polycarbonate rear windows and black centre-lock magnesium wheels (as in the pictures) rather than the standard 19-inch alloys. We know we would.

Inside there’s a similarly carbon makeover with lightweight seats (power adjust optional) and carbon for the centre stack and door casings. The paddle shifts are magnesium with leather inserts. Before you ask, there’s no manual box, only Aston’s automated manual gearbox Sportshift lll, as used on the standard road car (and approved by us when we tested the Vantage up the hillclimb, see the video here).

Lower and wider (by 50mm), the GT3 uses the standard car’s wishbone suspension with uprated springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. The three-stage adaptive damping, with Track mode, has been recalibrated. The tyres for the GT3 are Michelin Pilot Super Sports rather than the Pirellis of the standard car.

And that, for now, is what we know about it. Well apart perhaps from the message this car – the Aston alternative to machines like the McLaren 650S, Ferrari 458 Speciale and Porsche 911 GT3 – sends to its rivals when considered alongside the equally new Vulcan (Aston’s alternative to the P1 GTR and Ferrari FXX K track specials).

That message? Aston Martin is firing on all 12 again…

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