With automatic gearboxes becoming faster, tougher and smarter, it may seem like the days of the good-old manual transmission are almost at an end. Today, the latter exists mainly in budget cars and some performance vehicles. But it is being kept alive, nonetheless, and Aston Martin is the latest firm to offer something exciting that has a stick shift.
It’s called the Valour, and it flies in the face of how fast cars are built today by having a manual shifter and three pedals. The bespoke six-speed gearbox is mated to a monster of an engine—a 5.2-liter V12 with two turbos. With 705hp on tap, keeping up with a Valour will be a rather difficult task. And just to make it clear that this car is for pure driving enjoyment, it won’t be available with an automatic transmission (even if you ask nicely).
Aston’s newest won’t be a slouch in the corners, too. The Valour’s adaptive dampers, springs, and anti-roll bars are all built specifically for it, with customized alignment settings to maximize the potential of these components. Shear panels and extra bracing in the frame resist twisting forces, allowing the car to remain rigid during high-speed cornering.
Speaking of cornering, the Valour’s 21-inch wheels are shod in sticky Michelin Pilot Sport S 5 rubber. Depending on the driving mode selected, the limited-slip differential can use every ounce of grip available or shred the tires into oblivion. Helping dial down the fun are carbon-ceramic brakes that can apparently perform fade-free for up to 800°C.
The design of the Valour is inspired by another Aston Martin product that had a manual transmission from the factory—the 1970s V8 Vantage. The enormous grille is flanked by large, circular headlights. The clamshell hood features extensive ducting to cool the twin-turbo V12. Instead of a rear window, the Valour gets vortex generators that draw air toward the upswept tail. And triple tailpipes complete the look with an equally menacing exhaust note.
Taking center stage in the simple cockpit is the gear knob with an exposed shifter mechanism. The bucket seats are trimmed in wool tweed just like the Le Mans-winning DBR1 of 1959. Much of the interior is furnished in carbon fiber. But if all of that isn’t enough, the Q by Aston Martin customization service can definitely take care of any buyer’s unique requests.
If it looks like Aston Martin has pulled out all the stops in making the Valour, that’s because the automaker is celebrating its 110th anniversary. This figure is also the number of cars that will be built for the whole world. First deliveries are scheduled in the last quarter of this year. As for the price, anyone asking is clearly not this car’s target market.