'This time next year' for manual AM Vantage

Just in case you thought there might be a polite pause in the rolling snowball that is Aston Martin, its chief engineer popped up at the Festival of Speed to remind us that it's still frantically busy turning Andy Palmer's business strategy into reality.

While there are umpteen trunks and tributaries to that plan, Matt Becker confirmed to Road and Track that one of the most idiosyncratic elements is already at the testing phase. The idea of fitting the latest Vantage with a proper manual gearbox was endorsed by Palmer from the outset - but it was considered of secondary importance to the car's initial development.

When PH sat in a well-used test mule almost two years ago, the engineers conceded that the idea had not yet made it off the page; back then they were still learning how to get the best from the Mercedes-AMG V8 with the eight-speed automatic it came attached to. Now it seems the working three-pedal prototypes are up and running, and due to make it to production, "this time next year".

Unsurprisingly, the fusing of a (six, seven?) speed manual gearbox with the twin-turbocharged, 510hp V8 has not proven entirely straightforward. "The 4.0-litre AMG engine doesn't come with a manual anywhere else. So, actually, to integrate a manual into it is not without it's challenges," Becker remarked. "The software doesn't exist so you have to create your own software. The driveline system doesn't exist so you have to create your own."

If that sounds like rather a lot of work for what will surely be a niche item (within a fairly niche segment), then you're not wrong. But it's indicative at least of the firm's impressive sense of self. Palmer wants Aston to be innovative and forward-thinking, sure, although plainly not in a way which severs it from a rich heritage of heroic driver's cars.

The Vantage, of course, is a case in point - the previous car could be had with a manual gearbox until very near its death, and its 14-unit resurrection (the 600hp V12-engined V600) can only be had with three pedals. Moreover, what better way is there for Aston to differentiate its version of the AMG V8 than by retrofitting the century-old bit of kit that Mercedes is fast ushering to the door?

If nothing else, the experience of the car ought to be completely different. "It reminds you that you have to know how to drive," Becker told R&T. Here's to that.


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Comments (24) Join the discussion on the forum

  • alpha channel 19 Jul 2018

    I might be able to overlook the giant early 2000's garmin sat nav that's plopped on to the dash for a third pedal and the ability to stir the gears myself.

  • Robert-nszl1 19 Jul 2018

    Saw this in the flesh close up for the first time at the festival of speed...I'm not a fan of the looks particularly, but what really struck me was its size compared to the old version. The great thing about the previous one, alongside the great looks, was its compact dimensions. Aston no longer make a car that isn't too wide to make it reasonable to drive on UK roads (and the rest are GTs anyway). With 911s also growing bigger at every iteration it would be great to see one of the premium manufactures actually make a car where the footprint isn't the size of a Range rover! To me the addition of a manual box is pretty irrelevant if you can't thread the thing down a b road at a decent pace without having to worry about what you might meet coming the other way.

  • LanceRS 20 Jul 2018

    With a manual ‘box I could almost forgive that front end. Nice to see Aston producing something that I’m sure very few people will actually buy these days, just in case they do.

  • Helicopter123 20 Jul 2018

    I'm sure that this news will greatly excite the usual PH keyboard warriors but you have to wonder how many actual Aston buyers will want a manual?

  • VanquishRider 20 Jul 2018

    Plenty of those V12 Vantage buyers bought them with Manuals. So I'm sure they will sell, but agreed, not in huge numbers. 5%?

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