You’d think the sort of people who’d even consider buying a 565 HP V12 car with a manual gearbox would love – wantonly, openly, wetly, unashamedly – a rally-style dog-leg shift pattern, with first gear tucked down by your knee. The Aston Martin V12 Vantage S has such a gearbox, and most people think it’s great, except for these two, one of whom has a valid point.
The first gearbox-complainer is the reviewer over at The Telegraph, who just doesn’t seem to get the appeal of the dog-leg shift pattern. I do like his line about walkies, though:
However, to 99.9 per cent of the population these days a dog leg is something that is attached to a dog in order to facilitate walkies. To place such a thing in a brand new car might well be a knowing nod to enthusiasts and engineering sorts, but to everybody else it merely makes an otherwise lovely car unnecessarily complicated to drive.
But funny British dog-walking terms aside, this guy just doesn’t get it, and he’s suffering from something I myself am afflicted by, Journalistic Automotive Control Amnesia Syndrome (JACAS). JACAS is a condition where you drive so many cars for such a short period of time that you forget that people do get used to control placement in their own cars.
I’ve made this mistake many times, and this is an ideal example. The confusion of the shift pattern would dissipate with use, of which there’d be plenty, because this car seems like a blast to drive. A big part of why is the novel shift pattern, too.
So, yeah, let’s say the Telegraph doesn’t know what they’re talking about here. But you know who does have a valid complaint? This guy named Tom Wiltshire who works for Auto Express, and knows they have way better things to do than bitch about his complaint. I, on the other hand, have no better things to do. Here’s what Tom told me:
Enough with the pleasantries. I know you’re a man who likes details on a car and I thought I’d draw your attention to the travesty Aston has lavished on the V12 Vantage S.
Why go to all the trouble of fitting a gorgeous, seven-speed dog-leg manual and then give it the gear shifter from a crappy 20k hatchback?
I’m sure it’s crafted from the finest materials, I’m sure it feels nice in the hand, but it’s the dullest looking thing I’ve ever seen. Paint drying would be a welcome distraction. I drive a 1-litre, three-cylinder Skoda and it comes with a nicer looking gear shifter than this.
Also, the surround is not only pointlessly made of carbon fibre, but it looks like a toilet seat. Aston has fitted a toilet seat in a car costing £138,000. I can have a toilet seat in a secondhand campervan costing £1,500, and it sure won’t have a leather-coated seven-speed marital aid poking out of it.
Looking at the pictures, holy shit, Tom is absolutely right. It’s like they took the shifter from a 2006 Accord and, yes, shoved it through a subscale carbon fiber toilet seat.
For a car like this, where so much of the focus is on the shifter, it really should have been something special, physically, and not just some parts-bin crap. I mean, not everything needs to be a chromed, gated shifter, but when you’re dropping over $200,000 on a car, Aston should really be able to come up with something that looks and feels markedly better than a shifter that wouldn’t look out of place in a Sentra.
Aston Martin, I hope you’re paying attention here. If you’re all tl;dr, then just know this: dogleg good, shifter from 10-year-old econobox bad.