It’s a day that, sadly, was inevitable. The Vantage and V12 engine are doing their last dance, appropriately and wonderfully attired. Following on from the announcement of the V12 Vantage Coupé, a limited run of 249 V12 Vantage Roadsters was announced at the 2022 Pebble Beach Concours.
Much like its hardtop sibling, under its dramatically sculpted carbon fibre bonnet is a 5.2-litre twin turbo V12 with 690bhp and 555lb ft, which seems a suitable amount of grunt to give the combination of ‘smallest car and biggest engine’ a decent send-off. It’s also staggeringly fast: 0-62mph takes 3.5 seconds, and its top speed is 200mph. That power is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
While the Roadster isn’t quite as aggressive to look at as the Coupé, it still comes complete with a huge grille to keep its motor cool, a sculpted side highlighted by massive wheel arches, and a powerful rear hiding two massive exhausts. The grille sits on top of a splitter that, when combined with the (optional) rear spoiler and underbody aero, generates up to 10 times the amount of downforce of the V8 Roadster. Sitting on 21-inch wheels shod in Michelin Pilot 4S tyres, it should stay neatly stuck to the tarmac.
Customers can choose a number of options to cut curb weight to boost performance still further. Carbon bucket seats and forged alloy wheels can be specified, enhancing Aston Martin’s own weight-saving measures of lightweight carbon or composite body panels, a lightweight battery, and thin stainless steel exhaust. With all the right boxes ticked, V12 Roadster is just 60kg heavier than the V12 Vantage Coupé. It’ll slink through the air, keep itself stuck to the road, and when you need to slow down a set of massive carbon ceramic brakes (410mm up front, 360mm at the rear) should do the job nicely for you.
The finality the V12 Vantage Roadster brings with it marks the end of an era. Considering the V12 Vantage itself wasn’t necessarily an official project to start with, the fact it exists at all is cheering. What started as something of a Saturday morning experiment turned into a concept that saw a race car engine stuffed into a Vantage, which evolved, somewhat wonderfully, into an icon.
Combining the signature Aston Martin V12 growl with its most compact car created a cult vehicle that would elicit cheers of joy from passers-by, and cause phones to be wrenched from pockets.
The final version of that should do much the same job; partly due to its exclusivity — both the Roadster and Coupé were sold out before their public unveilings — and partly due to its wild looks. Much like its famed predecessor, there’s an air of the familiar to it, while also, perhaps rather wildly in this case, something not quite… normal about it.
The standard Vantage Roadster is a subtle, refined car. When you see it glide by, you pay attention. Now imagine that with an extra slug of noise, a 25% wider grille, and a colossal wing. You won’t merely pay attention — you’ll remember that sight. It’s that kind of experience that the V12 Vantage is designed to create; one that will grab on to you and not let go.
And that’s just from the outside. The Vantage’s cabin, fully customisable and emblazoned with V12 badging, is a sumptuous place to sit. With supportive seats, stitched to perfection, you’ll at least be comfortable while people take pictures of your ride. They’ll be able to see you, too, as the V12 Vantage Roadster’s fabric roof lowers in just 6.7 seconds. If you want to hide away from the attention, it’ll put itself back into place in 6.8 seconds at speeds up to 31mph. With a super-thin stainless steel exhaust setup, two turbos, and 5.2 litres of Gaydon’s finest V12 up front, should you find yourself in the vicinity of a tunnel perhaps finding 6.8 seconds to lower the roof might be a good idea.
This final car should be seen as a celebration of what came before. When the original launched there was no need for such a thing, but Aston Martin did it anyway because it was an interesting thing to do. Interesting things tend to lead to fun, and fun leads to smiles.
The V12 Vantage Roadster may be the last of the line, and may be sold out, but the fact that it exists in the first place is a special thing. The question remains: what comes next?
This story is an extract from an article featured in the AMXX issue of Aston Martin magazine, out now. If you're not already a subscriber, visit magazine.astonmartin.com/magazine-subscription so that you can read the full story.