The package is back, in a sense. For the 2017 model year, Aston will produce the V12 Vantage S with a seven-speed manual transmission. And not the automated manual business supplied by Graziano, that has attracted my ire for being about as subtle as a kick in the pants. There's a human-operated clutch and a proper manual lever.
It gets better, at least if you're a manual-transmission geek. Aston fitted a dogleg box to this car, meaning first gear is to the left and down, below reverse and where second gear would sit in a traditional H-pattern floor shifter. Less traditional is the throttle-blipping function, which will make downshifts smoother for those unable or unwilling to heel-toe. If AMSHIFT, which is Graydon's code-word for the system, is not your thing it can be disabled or used in any driving mode.
More good news: there's no real penalty for choosing the manual over the Sportshift III transmission. The two cars are mechanically the same, offer the same performance metrics and top speed, and are offered at the same basic price. New for 2017 but not exclusive to the manual are many exterior and interior cosmetic options, like brightly-colored exterior accents, in line with Aston's recent styling trends.
As the subtitle suggests, there is a serious catch for Americans. It's not that we won't get the V12-manual combination – we will! – it's just that there won't be very many of them. It'll be a no-cost option in the rest of the world. If you want one, let's hope you've stopped reading this article the first few lines and hopped on the phone with your local Aston dealer to get a place on what looks like a very short list.