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If the Aston Martin V12 Vantage could be summed up in a single phrase, "over the top" would do nicely. That's because by any measure you'd care to name, this two-seat luxury sport coupe is really too much. And therein lies the attraction. From the 510-horsepower V12 engine shoehorned beneath its hood to an interior as finely crafted as a bespoke Savile Row suit, the V12 Vantage is all about extravagance in both substance and style.
While it's true there are other high-end sports cars out there that have an edge in terms of raw performance, few can match the V12 Vantage's blend of gorgeous sheet metal, elegant passenger accommodations and refined GT-style drivability. That makes this one of those rare instances where too much of a good thing is very good indeed.
Current Aston Martin V12 Vantage
The Aston Martin V12 Vantage is very similar to the V8 Vantage coupe but is differentiated from its V8-powered sibling primarily by the 6.0-liter V12 engine under the hood. Those extra four cylinders give this slighter larger Vantage model an impressive 510 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque. All that power is sent to the rear wheels via a rear-mounted six-speed manual gearbox, which is the only transmission offered.
There are two trim levels available. The base model is fitted out with an extensive list of standard features including 19-inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, xenon headlamps and rear parking sensors. The list of upscale amenities continues inside with automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power seats with memory settings, Bluetooth, a Garmin-sourced navigation system and a 160-watt audio system with six-CD changer, an iPod adapter and an auxiliary audio input jack. A top-of-the-line Carbon Black model gets special styling details, along with a premium surround-sound audio system with satellite radio.
The V12 Vantage's two-passenger interior shares many of the same components and materials with the even more expensive Aston Martin DBS, which makes it one of the most posh places on four wheels. From the leather and suedelike Alcantara upholstery to the genuine carbon-fiber trim to the crystal ignition key, the cabin strikes a perfect balance between refinement and flash.
Though the Aston Martin V12 Vantage can be driven perfectly sedately without a fuss, mashing down on the accelerator pedal results in impressive acceleration -- zero to 60 mph is said to take just 4.1 seconds -- and a sonorous soundtrack. The car is equally exciting on a twisting ribbon of asphalt, thanks to the nicely tuned suspension that manages to combine superb handling with the unruffled ride quality one would expect from a true GT. Huge carbon-ceramic cross-drilled disc brakes and wide, sticky tires help make sure the V12 Vantage stops as well as it goes.
Put it all together and you have a machine that -- whether because of its excesses or in spite of them -- is every bit as enjoyable to drive as it is to look at.
Used Aston Martin V12 Vantage Models
The Aston Martin V12 Vantage was introduced for 2011. That first model year featured a Volvo-sourced navigation system that was slow and fussy to operate.