It’s always a bittersweet moment when a manufacturer brings out an end of the line version of a beloved model. Remember when Pagani had to kill off the Zonda? They couldn’t stop making one more ‘Final Edition’ model. Just when you thought the Zonda was gone, out came another special final final version of the car. When Porsche brought out the 997 GT3 RS 4.0, we knew it was the end of an era. That car would be the last of the Mezger engined 911s. The next generation 991s would have a completely new engine.
The same can be said about this; the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Based on the already insane V12 Vantage S and inspired by the GT3 racer, the Vantage GT3 is what Aston calls it’s most potent and uncompromising Vantage ever. In other words this is the Vantage’s swan song. A new generation of Aston Martins will make their debut in the next year or so and powering them will be Mercedes-AMG sourced engines. The long running 5.9-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine will be no more. But what a way to go.
In the V12 Vantage S, the 5.9-litre engine pumps out 565bhp/418kW. In the GT3 that’s gone up to 592bhp/435kW. Torque has gone up to 625NM while top speed is down from 325 km/h to 300 km/h thanks to the extra drag from the aero parts. 0-100 km/h is done in 3.5 seconds, two-tenths quicker than the V12 Vantage. That almost puts the GT3 in line with the 458 Speciale and Huracan. It’s a lot more than Stuttgart’s own GT3, which has to make do with 475bhp. However that car has less weight to shift around. Despite Aston Martin’s best efforts to get rid of unnecessary weight, the GT3 is only 100kgs less than the V12 Vantage S. The weight loss is due to the extensive use of 007-style materials such as titanium, magnesium, aluminium, and of course carbon fibre. The titanium exhaust system for example is 19kgs less than the one in the V12 Vantage.
Other modifications on the GT3 include a magensium torque tube for the 7-speed automated manual transmission. The spring rates and Bilstein adaptive dampers have been retuned and Brembo carbon ceramic brakes are standard fit. New lightweight 19-inch magnesium alloys are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, a first for any Aston Martin. To show the extensive weight saving measures, the centre cap of the wheels are also made of magnesium. The GT3 has three driving modes; Normal, Sport, and Track. Each mode gives the GT3 a different driving style and adjusts the damping, steering, throttle, gear changes, and of course exhaust note accordingly.
Astons have always been beautiful cars and the GT3 carries on this tradition. Granted, it’s not as elegant as the standard Vantage but its racy look does give it a harder, more purposeful look. Everything on the GT3 has been styled to be as functional as it is beautiful. The GT3 gains a massive ‘U’ shape vent on the bonnet, a new front bumper and splitter, a larger side grille and deeper skirts, a new rear diffuser, and of course that massive rear wing. Most of the GT3’s skin is made from carbon-fibre which reduces weight by around 20kgs. The extra bodywork, wider track, and aero bits have made the GT3 suitably wider and lower than the V12 S.
Inside the theme of no-nonesense lightweight continues. The seats are made of carbon fibre and instead of electric operation, they’re now manually powered. The centre console is also carbon fibre and the infotainment screen is now fixed rather than a pop-up job. That’s not to say this is a stripped out track car, oh no. This is still an Aston Martin so it’s still trimmed in the usual leather, alcantara, and beautiful exposed carbon.
The GT3 is quite possibly the best of where Aston is at the moment and where they’ve been. It’s the ultimate expression of what they have available to them. Everything has been eeked out to give the ultimate road car. No wonder then that almost all 250 units have been spoken for. Pricing is said to be around 250,000 ($500,000). It might seem a lot for what is essentially a 10-year old car, but it is a piece of history. The end of an era. Aston Martins, and perhaps every other car, may never be like this again.