IT'S normal to pay extra if you opt for automatic transmission, but Aston Martin has turned that notion on its head with an exciting, new, race-inspired version of the Vantage.
It comes with a seven-speed manual gearbox instead of the standard model's eight-speed auto -and it will set you back an extra Â£29,000!
But the gearbox fitted in the new Â£149,995 Vantage AMR is no ordinary self-shifter. The motorsport-inspired transmission, developed by Graziano, features a ‘dog-leg' first gear with second to seventh gears - those that will be used most frequently when on the move - positioned in a traditional double H-pattern configuration.
It also comes with a driver selectable system called Amshift which uses clutch, gear position and prop shaft sensors, together with a tuned engine management program to mimic the technique of heel-and-toe downshifts - the act of blipping the throttle while braking and changing gear to allow smoother deceleration and cornering.
Removing the automatic transmission and including carbon ceramic brakes as standard shaves 95kg of weight compared with the regular Vantage and a limited slip diff is fitted which has been tuned and calibrated to provide a more rewarding and engaging driver experience, says the company.
Otherwise, the mechanical spec remains much the same with the four litre twin-turbo, Mercedes-AMG V8 engine producing 503bhp and powering the Vantage AMR to 60mph in 3.9 seconds and on to a 195mph maximum. Under the skin the AMR also shares Aston Martin's latest adaptive damping system with Sport, Sport + and Track modes with the auto model.
Only 200 examples of the Vantage AMR are to be built for worldwide sales and they'll be available in five designer specifications priced from Â£149,995 with first deliveries expected towards the end of the year.
And the last 59 models to come off the production line will be even more special. In celebration of Aston Martin's 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans victory and named "Vantage 59", they will come with an exclusive fixed specification including a Stirling Green and Lime exterior paint scheme and leather and alcantara interior, finished with a signature AMR lime stripe and stitching. Priced at Â£164,995 the package is available on a first-come-first-serve basis to customers worldwide.
When the AMR series is sold out, the seven speed manual transmission will be available as an option for the Vantage.
Says Aston Martin Lagonda CEO Andy Palmer: "The Vantage AMR 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."