It’s too soon to spray champagne celebrating the return of the manual transmission, but we should at least put a couple of bottles on ice. Our preferred gearbox certainly isn’t saved quite yet. But it does seem to have more of a future in sports cars than looked to be the case for at least the past decade, as makers conspired to send it the way of the drum brake, the ashtray, and the key that is actually a key.
A modest return began last year with Jaguar’s decision to offer a manual version of what was previously the automatic-only F-type. Then Porsche tacitly admitted it had been too hasty in making its latest 911 GT3 a PDK-only car by creating the manual-only 911R. Now Aston Martin follows with an even bolder move, offering a second manual-gearbox Vantage model.
A six-speed stick is standard on the V8 Vantage and available on the 2017 V8 Vantage GTS, and now the British sports-car maker is producing a limited run of the considerably brawnier V12 Vantage S fitted with a seven-speed manual gearbox, one that comes with the additional novelty of a dogleg shift pattern.
First and foremost, selecting the manual means avoiding the lurching automated single-clutch transmission found in the regular V12 Vantage S, a gearbox with all the smooth sophistication of a martini embellished with gravel. Although Aston Martin has brought in a new Sportshift III automated manual for 2017, and although we concede that even the slickest heel-and-toe merchant won’t be able to change gears as quickly in the stick-shift Vantage, doing so is vastly more rewarding than experiencing the automated gearbox’s head-nodding torque bump. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Manufacturer