Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster: Big engine, small car

Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster front three-quarter viewHot on the heels of the McLaren MP4-12C Spider is another drop-top supercar. Also hailing from the British Isles, it’s the Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster. It may not be as technologically advanced as the McLaren, but the Aston still promises to put smiles on enthusiasts’ faces.

Photos were leaked before the V12 Vantage Roadster’s official debut, and there are no surprises. Just like the V8-powered Vantage Roadster, the V12 borrows styling cues from its big brother, the DB9. The result is a classically-proportioned sports car with a weapons-grade powerplant under the bonnet.

Like the V12 Vantage Coupe, the Roadster uses the 6.0-liter engine from the larger DBS. The V12 produces 510 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, enough to power the hardtop Vantage to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, and on to a top speed of 190 mph. A V8 Vantage takes 4.3 seconds and has a 180 mph top speed.

V12 Vantages come exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, which is mounted in the rear for better weight distribution.

Signifying a V12 Vantage are hood vents, unique wheels, and blacked-out trim. There may be four more cylinders under the hood, but why spoil the surprise with flamboyant bodywork? The interior gets optional carbon fiber trim, and the Roadster adds glass switches.Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster rear three-quarter view

To get the Vantage Roadster ready for its V12 transplant, Aston Martin had to make a few modifications. The suspension was changed, and a new decklid spoiler and front air gurney were added.

When it debuts, the V12 Vantage Roadster will have plenty of convertible supercars to compete with. The McLaren, for one, promises 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 207 mph. The Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 hits 60 in 3.7 seconds and tops out at 195 mph.

The Aston may offer a less hectic pace, but will it really be less enjoyable? The V12 Vantage isn’t a mid-engined technology showpiece, so it might appeal to a different crowd. Very few people have hair that can withstand a top-down run at 200 mph, anyway.

The V12 Vantage Roadster is a special car, and it will be rare too. Only 101 V12 Vantage Roadsters will be sold when the car enters production later this year. Aston has not revealed its price, but the V12 Vantage Coupe starts at $180,535.