A year after the launch of the new Vantage, the three-pedalled 911-rival has finally arrived: meet the new Aston Martin Vantage AMR.
Where the standard Vantage has an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, the new Vantage AMR has a dog-leg, motorsport-inspired seven-speed manual gearbox, with second through seventh gears – the gears you’re likely to use most often – laid out in the traditional H-pattern.
Launched ahead of a weekend of action at the second-to-last round of the 2018/2019 World Endurance Championship Super Season, a season in which Aston Martin has competed with the Vantage GTE, the Vantage AMR “fulfils Aston Martin’s promise to deliver a product with the involvement and driver engagement that only a manual can offer.” Sounds good, doesn’t it?
The performance will be exciting, to say the least. The 4.0-litre, twin-turbo AMG V8 engine produces 510PS (503bhp) at 6,000rpm and 625Nm (462lb ft) of torque from 2,000-5,000rpm. 0-62mph will take 4.0 seconds, just 0.4 seconds more than the automatic Vantage, and the top speed will remain the same at 195mph. Removal of the eight-speed ZF ‘box has meant a 95kg weight reduction, too.
What else does the Vantage AMR offer? Aside from a stonking, shouty V8 soundtrack, the manual ‘box is linked up to a system called AMSHIFT which will mimic heel-and-toe downshifts and allow you to make up-shifts without lifting off the throttle. If you want to remain a heel-and-toe hero, however, you can turn the system off. You also get a specially tuned limited-slip differential, carbon ceramic brakes as standard and adaptive dampers.
Why are we only getting a manual Vantage now, when Aston Martin’s CEO Andy Palmer is a self-confessed manual fan and the old V8 Vantage was launched with a manual? Quite simply, the AMG lump up front was never designed to work with a manual ‘box. Truth be told it wasn’t designed to work with the standard Vantage’s eight-speed ZF, either, as the engine has been used in cars like the Mercedes AMG GT and paired with a seven-speed double-clutch automatic.
Just 200 Vantage AMRs will be built, 141 of which will be available in Sabiro Blue, Onyx Black, China Grey or White Stone. The other 59 cars, however, will celebrate 60 years since Aston Martin won the 1959 Le Mans 24 with the DBR1; ‘Vantage 59’, the trim will be called, featuring a Stirling Green and Lime exterior paint combination and a ‘Dark Knight leather and alcantara’ cabin, finished with a signature AMR lime stripe and interior stitching.
You can buy the Vantage AMR now with prices starting at £149,995. The good news for many, though, will be that while Aston Martin has chosen to launch the manual Vantage in the Vantage AMR, the seven-speed manual will be offered as an alternative to the eight-speed ZF in the standard Vantage from January 2020. Rejoice, the manual isn’t dead yet!