Introduction: 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon
Sometimes you want a little extra out of life. If you’re fortunate enough to have a lot of money at your disposal, you might opt to spend said dough on an expensive machine to shuttle you around. A little extra might mean that you instead purchase a car that does more than shuttle you between A and B. An exotic sports car is the order of the day, and the standard players include the Porsche 911 Turbo, Audi R8 5.2-liter V10, and a very select handful of other high-class machinery.
Still desiring a little something extra, you look towards a vehicle that has the extra hit of exclusiveness that you desire. It doesn’t have to be over the top, like a Lamborghini Gallardo. Instead, you’re thinking of a vehicle that delivers the sort of style you’d find in a tailored tuxedo. You’re thinking of the 2012 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon… and it’s got a little something extra that the others in this segment do not possess.
We’re talking about a blend of sumptuously sophisticated style merged with raw power.
Pricing and Trim Levels: 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon
Technically, the Aston Martin Vantage comes in a few flavors, with convertible and coupe versions of each. The “entry-level” Vantage is powered by a 4.7-liter V8, but the car we’re focusing on here houses a 6.0-liter V12 engine.
Pricing for the V12 Vantage starts at $180,600. Jumping up to the exclusive Carbon version, which adds carbon fiber in generous quantities to both the exterior and interior, pushes the price a few ticks past the $200,000 mark. There’s no pricing available yet for the convertible version of the V12 Vantage, but expect it to hover around the double-century section, like the Carbon version.
Competition: 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon
This is rarified air, yet the competition up here is still quite stiff. A plethora of offerings exist from the Germans, including the Porsche 911 Turbo, Audi R8 GT, and the Mercedes-Benz SLS. Italy has a say here as well with the Lamborghini Gallardo and Ferrari California. The California is a bit of a poseur mobile though, so we’ll drop it from the list. (That’s a bit harsh, we know… The Ferrari is a wonderful grand touring machine, but it’s just not as aggressive as the others)
With the exception of the Porsche 911 Turbo, every member of the competition makes more power than the Aston. Including the 911, every member of the competition will smoke the V12 Vantage from a stop up to 60 miles per hour, and continue to do so down a quarter mile stretch of road. The Vantage is no slouch though, and the run from 0-60 miles per hour happens in a blink more than 4 seconds.
Performance aside, the Aston Martin outshines the competition in the looks department. This coupe is a stunner in the most classic sense of the word. The competition has nothing on this beautiful Brit in terms of style.
Exterior: 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon
This is aggression in its most beautiful form. The standard Vantage is already one hell of a looker, but the V12 Vantage ups the art ante quite a few notches. Vents have been cut into the hood to let the twelve cylinder mill release heat more easily, and additional bits of bodywork signal the mighty motor's presence.
Up front, the nose is signature Aston and helps set off the exterior look perfectly. From there, the body lines flow backward into the rear haunch-like fenders, and then it’s on back around to the carefully sculpted tail end, which shines brilliantly at night thanks to the LED taillights.
Since this is the Carbon edition, there are bits of carbon fiber spied all over the exterior bodywork. The front splitter, vent coverings, side mirrors, and rear diffuser all benefit from the application of the added lightness.
Interior: 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon
Like James Bond’s tuxedo, the interior of an Aston Martin looks best in black. The dark color lends a bespoke Monaco nightclub vibe that helps enhance the overall level of driving pleasure extracted from the V12 Vantage. Central to the cabin space is the waiting key slot, which brings everything to life. We said key slot, but what actually fits here is a device called an Emotion Control Unit. It's a mix of stainless steel and crystal that serves as the key for the Aston Martin.
Behind the suede-covered steering wheel sit the signature Aston Martin gauges. These easy-to-read units resemble a high-end timepiece, and the speedo needle and tach needle swing in opposite directions. If only the central infotainment unit were as pleasing to the eye (and easy to use) as the gauges. The navigation display, which swings open from the top of the dash, looks out of place in this otherwise stylish cabin. The buttons to switch between the various internal operations (such as nav, phone, audio, etc) are confusing to use, and buttons that do one thing in one mode do another in a different mode. It's very easy to mess up what you're trying to do if you're not paying attention... and you should be paying attention to the road.
Inside the V12 Vantage, you're treated to contrast. This is a lovely space that's perfectly posh and modern, while it's also spoiled a bit by the needs-an-upgrade infotainment system.
Powertrain and Fuel Economy: 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon
Not content with the V8 engine offered in the lesser Vantage, Aston Martin has equipped the V12 Vantage with, no surprise here, a V12 engine. This twelve-cylinder unit churns out 510 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, and it does so with a hearty roar that warms the soul. All of that might is sent through a six-speed manual gearbox and then on out to the rear wheels.
If you're concerned about fuel economy, you're dealing with the wrong vehicle. This is no green machine. The EPA estimates that the V12 Vantage returns a fuel economy rating of 14 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. That's if you can stay out of the throttle... which you can't, because the power, acceleration, and noise are all very addicting.
Driving Impressions: 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon
Driving any Aston Martin is a rewarding experience. Driving the V12 Vantage is a trascendant one. This two-door exotic is an endlessly pleasing blend of power and style, and the joy of piloting one is felt from the very moment you insert the Emotion Control Unit into the waiting slot. The car fires to life, announcing that it's time to buckle in and ride.
Slotting the gear lever into first, you're presented with a crisp gear change. The result will be the same in each successive shift because Aston Martin has fitted the V12 Vantage with a proper gearbox that works perfectly with the V12 engine under the hood. Driven casually, the V12 Vantage is an easy machine to manauver around town. Driven aggressively it's just as easy to have a blast, but the car can bite back hard if you start to get ahead of yourself.
With traction control on, the car stays calm and planted through the corners. Turn the computer off, and it becomes a drift machine controlled by the strength of your right foot and the size of your... well, let's just say you better be brave. This is a lot of power in a relatively small car, with a relatively short wheelbase. That said, it's a blast to push it hard. The suspension, wheels, tires, and brakes all work rather well. Our test car was fitted with the carbon ceramic brakes as well. These units are better suited for the track, but we grew tired of their endless squeaking during standard street use.
All in all, the Aston Martin V12 Vantage is a truly terrific machine that also happens to be a wonderful exotic driver's car. It enjoys being driven fast, but can handle suburban parking lot duty if need be. It will, of course, be the best looking car no matter where it's being driven.
Pros & Cons: 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon
- Stunning style
- Potent power
- Carbon edition adds extra bits of aggressive styling, while dropping a tiny bit of weight as well.
- Infotainment is wonky
- Fuel economy is low... but expectedly so.
Final Thoughts: 2013 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon
The Aston Martin V12 Vantage possesses that extra something that other exotic or high-end machines might be missing. We're talking about the combination of pure beauty mixed with performance, raw noise combined with elegance, and sophistication blended perfectly with aggression. Driving this two door is an experience that rewards the mind, body, and soul... and once you get out, you can reward your senses of sight and touch, because it's a joy to simply look at this car and take it all in.
It's certainly not without its faults though, as we're eager to see Aston Martin move into the next generation of infotainment units. The navigation needs to match the elegance of the rest of the interior, and the learning curve to use the system needs to be lightened up.
That said, those faults are nowhere close to being big enough issues to detract from our love of the V12 Vantage. This is a machine that might just go down in history as one of the greats from Aston Martin.