In a time when buyers of most high-end luxury / performance vehicles have resigned themselves to letting the car handle gear-shifting duties via an automatic transmission, Aston Martin brings back driver engagement with a proper manual gearbox — at least for a few lucky buyers. After promising to bring back a manual model a few years ago, the British carmaker recently hailed the arrival of the limited-edition Vantage AMR — which indeed comes with three pedals.
Fulfilling a Promise
“When I joined this company, customers asked and, as a gearbox engineer and racer, I promised that we would always offer a manual transmission in our line-up, “ said Andy Palmer, president and CEO of Aston Martin Lagonda. “The Vantage AMR not only honors that commitment but sets us apart from our competitors in continuing to offer a three-pedal option. In a world of autonomous robo-taxis, Aston Martin will continue to advance the art and science of performance driving. With the Vantage AMR, we have created a thoroughly modern sports car that rewards effort and focus from the driver; the antidote to driving a computer game,” Palmer proclaimed.
The high-performance Vantage AMR touts a race-inspired 7-speed manual transmission developed by Graziano. The gearbox features a “dog-leg” first gear with second through seventh gears in the traditional double-H pattern. A hand-stitched leather-clad shifter connects the driver’s right arm to the gearbox.
Manually Shifted, Tech Smoothed
The AMR’s manual gearbox also features AMSHIFT, which receives data from the clutch, gear position and prop shaft sensors — along with the engine management program — to mimic the technique of heel-and-toe downshifts. This means the throttle gets blipped automatically while braking and shifting for smoother downshifts — also creating what is certainly a fantastic sound and music to an auto aficionado’s ears.
Creating the Vantage AMR’s lovely sound and providing plenty of motivation is Aston Martin’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that delivers 503 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque — enough oomph to get the Vantage AMR to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds on the way to a top speed of 195 mph.
Sports Car Handling
With an engine mounted far back in the chassis, the Vantage AMR’s lower center of gravity results in a nearly perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Performance gets further enhancement through considerable weight savings — the AMR’s manual gearbox and standard carbon-ceramic brakes reduce overall weight by almost 210 pounds when compared to the standard Vantage. The Vantage AMR also comes with Aston’s Adaptive Damping System with Skyhook technology that features Sport, Sport + and Track modes — as well as a limited-slip differential.
Only 200 Worldwide
Aston Martin plans to limit the Vantage AMR to a mere 200 units worldwide. While 141 of those AMRs will be available in the special colors of Sabiro Blue, Onyx Black, China Grey or White Stone, the remaining 59 will be built to celebrate the company’s victory of the DBR1 at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959.
Named “Vantage 59,” this special version features additional standard equipment and stands out with a Stirling Green and Lime exterior paint scheme with Dark Knight leather and Alcantara interior trim, finished with a signature AMR lime stripe and stitching. (An interesting side note: British racing legend Sir Stirling Moss’s DBR1 did not finish the 1959 race at Le Mans; the winning DBR1 was co-driven by British driver Roy Salvadori and a Texan named Carroll Shelby.)
On Sale Now
The Aston Martin Vantage AMR is on sale now with a retail price of $179,995. The Vantage 59 version has a $204,995 entry fee. Deliveries are expected in the final quarter of 2019. For those looking to purchase the three-pedal Vantage but miss out on this limited run, Aston Martin has also announced that the standard Vantage will be available with the manual gearbox beginning early next year.