First Drive: 2019 Aston Martin V8 Vantage

That might seem like a long wait when there are already prototypes on the road, but the small company has a large engineering job. The Mercedes-AMG 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 sitting in the Vantage's engine bay has never been paired with a manual gearbox, so Aston Martin has to create the software and the driveline hardware from scratch to make it work. On top of that, the company wants to make sure the package delivers the thrills the row-your-own crowd seeks. Becker said the car won't be a pushover, tuned so that "It reminds you that you have to know how to drive." Depending on uptake, one could hope that the DB11 using the same Mercedes-AMG engine would also undergo a manual transformation.

Road & Track didn't get the details on what kind of transmission we could expect. We figure the options are a traditional six-speed, a Corvette-style seven-speed, a Porsche-style seven-speed, or the dogleg seven-speed used last in this year's V12 Vantage V600, of which there were only 14 units.

Speculation on product plans puts the manual transmission first in the V8 Vantage pipeline, followed by a Vantage roadster and a V12 Vantage. Other models will certainly fill out the portfolio, Becker saying this first Vantage "is the starting point." Having applied the hardcore AMR moniker to the Valkyrie AMR Pro, DB11 AMR, and Rapide AMR, the Vantage seems a lock for the same extreme makeover.

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