The Vantage V12 S is a more refined, civilised drive than the Lamborghini


It may be that compared to the last week’s Lamborghini Huracan, the Vantage V12 S seems a much more civilised car.

The Huracan is, after all, a bruiser of a supercar that is brutal, very noisy and designed to announce your precense like a whirlwind passing through.

The Vantage is decidely more subtle. It can behave like a hooligan too but it feel more sophisticated than the Lambo – even at speed it’s a refined, relaxed drive.

The back-to-front gearbox may eventually become more intuitive to use – even some of the vibrations through the door trim might settle down.

But I can forgive a car this good these faults and more. Which much surely be the mark of a truly great car…

The Aston Martin Vantage V12 S is the upsidedown car! Things just aren’t where you would expect them to be


You just know that when Aston Martin turn out an amazing car that not quite everything will be perfect. There has to be a flaw right?  A brilliant machine that has more heart and soul than a Porsche but just isn’t quite as Germanically over-engineered.

So it is with the astoundingly good Vantage V12 S. Beautiful from every angle, the toned down but throaty exhuast note the poise and balance when at full tilt around a sweeping corner.

Then we come to the manual gearbox. For some reason, it’s back to front. That means 1st is bottom left, with a dog leg up to 2nd. Sure, you’d think it wouldn’t be that hard to get used to but it’s a bloody nightmare.

And then there’s changing down from 4th to 3rd – how many times did I almost whack it into 1st with potentially disastrous consequences?

It doesn’t work Aston Martin – why the rubbery ginger did you do it in the first place?

And then there are the electric window buttons. They are the wrong way up too. Press down for up, and up for down. Is there something I’m missing here?

Anyway, two awesomely annoying faults on an otherwise great car. Here endeth the rant…

Unlike the Huracan, the Aston Vantage V12 S manual doesn’t sound like a couple in flagrante


Long before it appeared in the distance, I could hear the S arriving. It’s not a squealer like the Huracan – it doesn’t sound like a couple in flagrante.

Instead, the Aston has a sophisticated growl – like Mariella Frostrup after one too many fags. Most shocking is the paint job. I’ve seen the S manual with grey paint and yellow lipstick around the grille, or white gloss and orange frill.

Get your head around that though and the rest should be easy.

Oh, apart from the dog-leg seven-speed gearbox. It’s the reason this Vantage is so special – but also remains the most annoying feature. First gear is in a funny position but it’s also way to easy to slip from second to fifth, instead of third.

Ho-hum. Another flawed Aston – or will I get used to it like every other motoring hack claims is possible?

For now, I’m just happy to look at the shape and hear the roar. More tomorrow…

The Lamborghini eats up BMW M4s and pimped Subarus for breakfast


Difficult trying to explain what it actually feels like to drive a Lamborghini. On paper, you might think your BMW M4 or pumped up Subaru Impreza will give it a good run for the money. You’re wrong.

Porsche, Mercedes AMG, Jaguar – all perfectly exciting options. But machines like the Huracan, cars from McLaren and Ferrari, just put speed on a different level.

There is almost an air of resignation among other drivers when the Huracan appears in their rear-view mirror. I’m not sure everybody knows exactly what it is but they certainly get out of the way fast.

Us the ‘Strada’ setting on the steering wheel (again!) for eating up everyday RS4s – switch to ‘Sport’ for destroying anybody who dares to think they are driving a more proficient motor.

There is a race setting but let’s not go there. No need. You will lose your nerve before the Lambo does.

The Lamborghini Huracan still isn’t the perfect supercar


The dashboard of the Huracan still frustrates me. I’m sure Lamborghini drivers would tell me that ‘you get used to it’ but steering column stalks are obviously out of flavour in Italy right now.

Everything, and I mean everything, is on the steering wheel. This includes a fiddly indicator button on the left, and an equally awkward windscreen wiper switch on the right.

Far from being driver focussed, I still have to take my eyes off the road to be certain I am pressing each button correctly.

Worst of all though is the dip/full beam. This is also on the left, directly above the indicators. It’s infuriatingly hard to find and even then, changing from full to dip beam is maddeningly tricky.

So, although the Huracan will blow you away with performance and jaw-dropping looks, it still ain’t the perfect supercar…

The raging bull of Lamborghini Huracan sounds like a soundtrack to the Iraq War


I’ve never known a car quite like it. The Hurcan is the most eye-catching supercar I’ve driven in 35 years of motor journalism.

A McLaren is cool, a Ferrari chic but the ‘angry’ Lambo craves attention wherever it is parked.

I returned to the Huracan after the British Touring Car Championships at Silverstone this weekend to find a group of people taking selfies, ogling through the windscreen.

Sat in the middle of Cirencester today, teenagers were giving the thumbs up and mouthing ‘nice car’. At least, I think that’s what they were saying.

What they haven’t even experienced driving this beast of a machine. It may bottom out on rough A-roads, it does have an exhaust system that could be a soundtrack to the Iraq War, and Lambo do offers some ridiculous colours.

But for sheer balls out rollocking fun, I’m not sure there has been anything to equal the raging bull of Huracan…

The Lamborghini Huracan cockpit is bonkers and unconventional


Here it is then – the bonkers and rather unconventional cockpit that greets every Huracan driver. Check out the red flip cover on the centre console – it conseals the stop start button and is borrowed from a fighter jet.

And that small handle beneath it? Well, obviously that’s the reverse lever and not a handbrake. Exploring the Lamborghini layout is actually a joy – but explore it you must to extract full pleasure from this powerhouse.

The steering wheel? It’s a little too overcomplicated for my liking and the thumb operated indicator switches are cool but really just form over function and not practical.

Otherwise you sit low in the driver’s seat and rear visibility is limited. You need the reverse camera to trundle backwards very slowly and the door mirrors are tiny.

Time to go for a drive…

The Lamborghini Huracan has an orgasmic overture that will make your knees tremble…


The donkeys don’t like it that’s for sure. Seriously, the mules on the farm are quite upset by the four tailpipes of the Huracan. God knows what the chairman of the parish council thinks – I will never get in the cricket team now.

The slightest application of right foot sends the Lamborghini into an orgasmic overture. It’s quite silly but then this isn’t a car for shy, retiring types.

If I chucked you the keys to the Huracan I can also guarantee you wouldn’t have a clue how to use the push button gear system, select neutral or even locate the window openers.

The indicators are on the front of the steering wheel and buttons you want to press down are actually designed to be lifted up.

Nothing about this car is normal and I haven’t even driven it yet. I suspect it’s going to make me giggle and worry about my license.

More tomorrow when I’ve found the door handle…

You will never fall in love with the capable BMW 225xe Active Tourer…


I feel sensible. Well, I do driving the BMW 225 Active Tourer. As hybrid four-wheel drive MPVs go, the Beemer is just about the most sensible car money can buy.

It will carry you and your family around the country, make you feel good about helping the environment and that BMW badge will always have the edge over the likes of Ford, Peugeot or Skoda.

This is premium MPV with a full load of technology on board. The hybrid powertrain works faultlessly, the cabin is refined and upmarket – even the infotainment system is a cut above and the air con was life-saver in today’s mini heatwave.

The question is – would you buy one at £35,000? I suspect for the many the answer is no, even with all the tax savings and benefits of a petrol-electric.

A likeable car but not a model you could ever fall in love with…



The BMW Active Tourer is expensive – and let’s face it, the MPV will still be trashed by your kids


I can think of more versatile MPVs than the Active Tourer but few are as well screwed together. This is, after all, a school run-mobile and will therefore be treated to a severe battering of sticky fingers and muddy feet.

My assorted step-children had a habit of taking a crayon to the fold down tables in a Renault Espace. They would press sweet wrappers into every nook and cranny. Back seat magazine pockets were really designed to be rubbish bins.

Whether you are prepared to pay £35k for the hybrid Active Tourer and then see it trashed, slowly, slowly over many months, is up to you!

I think I might be tempted to opt for the cheaper VW Golf SV diesel instead and bank the money I save. Even if I do then have to pay the London Congestion Charge…