Here's a deliciously subversive thought for you: Stats are ruining enthusiast cars. We use them to rank the latest models, critique them, and deify them. Sometimes the numbers happen to align with a bunch of intangibles, and the car becomes transcendent – like the Ferrari 458 Speciale, a very special thing indeed. There are cars with great numbers and very little charisma; I've driven many of them. And then, there are the number-based narratives that mislead us. For example, the hoopla around the Mazda MX-5's horsepower, or the continuing lack of a Toyobaru with a turbo – frustrating crosstalk about purist platforms better understood on track than on paper. The 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S is flawed, old, and weak – so say the insidious numbers. A mechanical watch doesn't keep time as well as a quartz one, the numbers say. A tube amplifier produces an inferior sound, the numbers say. The way to fight back is to stop this slavish devotion to the stats and go wind the thing out on good roads in imperfect conditions, which is to my mind the ultimate test of a grand tourer's competence. Southern California was rocked this winter by wild weather – much of the Angeles Crest Highway that dances along the spine of the San Gabriel Mountains was closed due to heavy snow. So much for Plan A. Some roadside rerouting led to some promising roads, so I pointed the Aston into the curves. The V12 roar is a profound part of this car's appeal. Uphill and building steam, the Vantage is a symphony's brass section playing the sounds of wolves on the hunt. Downshifts yowl and snarl like a pack crashing through the underbrush in search of prey. Under deceleration, it sounds like lupine static, unearthly and resonant; wound out it's a frenzied whir. Every stab of throttle brings an immediate response: sound and acceleration in equal measure. If you have even the barest appreciation of joy, you can't stay out of the throttle. This is soulful, warm, analog – but merely honest rather than consciously retro. There's nothing here trying to simulate an authentic experience – it is an authentic experience. It's all right there, under the long and delicate hood – twelve cylinders displacing 5.9 liters. And inside the cabin, a seven-speed manual gearshift lever that moves through a dogleg pattern. This watch requires winding; it's a tactile experience that the quickest, most sophisticated dual-clutch automated manual can't touch. I can't describe the several-millisecond difference between the Camaro ZL1's 10-speed automatic and Porsche PDK's shift time, but I know – in intimate detail and perfect clarity – when I nail a 1-2 shift on the Aston's dogleg box. Or when I miss the 3-4 upshift and go into 6th, which happened at least twice. A V12 that sounds like a scale model Merlin engine at takeoff and a dogleg box. There's no replacement for engagement. @astonmartin pic.twitter.com/U0Vg2OfiUF — Alex Kierstein (@HanSolex) March 28, 2017 The pattern would …
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|MPG||12 City / 18 Hwy|
|Transmission||7-spd auto-shift man w/OD|
|Power||563 @ 6650 rpm|
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