News flash: manual transmission sales in the U.S. are lower than ever, and automakers are abandoning the classic gearbox faster than a litter of stray kittens (harsh, I know).
The sad reality is that while some automakers tout their performance heritage and commitment to the driving experience, their actions speak to sales goals, not driver engagement. Aston Martin is not one of those brands, and is putting its stated commitment to the manual transmission into action.
For the 2017 model year, the brand’s most boisterous Vantage, the V12 Vantage S, will receive a seven-speed manual transmission with a racing-style dog-leg first gear. This optimal gearing configuration means the most-used gears (2-7) are in the quickest-shifting H pattern.
“We’re all enthusiasts here at Aston Martin. Building cars that offer something exceptional is what we do. Technology drives us forward, but we understand the importance of tradition,” said Ian Minards, director of product development. “At a time when manual transmissions have almost entirely disappeared in high performance cars, this makes the manual V12 Vantage S a very special car indeed.”
The gearbox also features driver-selectable automatic rev-matching to mimic heel-toe downshifts, like we’ve seen in the C7 Corvette. Additionally the “AMSHIFT” system allows for no-lift shifting and can be used in all driving modes. Aston Martin will still offer its Sportshift III automatic transmission, but if you want to really live it up, you’ll have to grab one of the 100 manual-equipped examples coming to North America.
Also for 2017, Aston Martin has refined its non-V12 Vantage lineup to just the Vantage GTS, which combines the V8 Vantage S performance with a range of new standard equipment. Both coupe and convertible bodystyles will be available in Sport and Lux Edition trims.
Sport translates to carbon fiber exterior accents paired with graphite wheels and the sport suspension. As for the Lux Edition, the exterior trim is done in a gloss black, the interior has more leather color options, and a 1,000W Bang & Olufsen Sound System is standard.
Finally, all 2017 models will get Aston Martin’s new Ami III infotainment system with satellite navigation, better graphics, a faster processor, and Apple CarPlay