The manual gearbox is a rare thing in high-end sportscars these days, but Aston Martin has redressed the balance with the launch of the new Aston Martin Vantage AMR.
In place of the standard Vantage’s eight-speed automatic, the Vantage AMR gets a seven-speed manual ‘box produced by Graziano.
First gear is on a dog-leg, race car style, with gears two to seven in a conventional H-pattern. There’s also a system that Aston calls AMShift, which blips the throttle when changing down a gear and allows full-throttle upshifts.
Under the bonnet, the Vantage AMR uses the same AMG-sourced, 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine that powers the regular Vantage. Power remains the same at 503bhp, but torque is down slightly at 461lb/ft – presumably the manual ‘box isn’t quite as strong as the auto.
An auto ‘box is much heavier than a manual, though, so the AMR weighs 95kg less than the standard car’s 1530kg. Standard-fit carbon ceramic brakes contribute to the loss, as well.
Performance is about the same, the 0-62mph sprint taking 4.0secs – 0.4secs slower thanks to the need to physically change gear – while the top speed remains unchanged at 195mph.
Just 200 copies of the Vantage AMR will be built. 59 of those will be available in the Vantage 59 spec – pictured here – that commemorates the 60th anniversary of Aston Martin’s triumph in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. It comes in a Stirling Green and Lime exterior colour scheme, with Dark Knight leather and alcantara and Lime detailing inside. The other 141 will be available in Sabiro Blue, Onyx Black, China Grey or White Stone.
Prices for the 141 start at £149,995, while the Vantage 59 weighs in at £164,995, around £30,000 to £45,000 more than the standard car.
Why would you spend so much more when the Vantage AMR isn’t actually any faster than the automatic Vantage? We’ll let Aston CEO Andy Palmer explain: “The Vantage AMR sets us apart from our competitors in continuing to offer a three-pedal option. In a world of autonomous robo-taxis, Aston Martin will continue to advance the art and science of performance driving.
“With the Vantage AMR, we have created a thoroughly modern sports car that rewards effort and focus from the driver; the antidote to driving a computer game.”
Is that reward worth the extra? If you value the extra interaction with the car that a stick shift gives you, yes it is.
Intriguingly, Aston also says that “Vantage will continue to feature a manual gearbox as an option from 2020 following the sale of all 200 Vantage AMR models.” Perhaps the love affair with paddleshifters is coming to an end…
By Graham King