What is it? When they’ve all been built, there will be just 101 Aston Martin V12 Zagatos in the world – a mere 24 more than there are One-77s cruising around. Admittedly, the Zagato isn’t quite the ground-up creation that the One-77 is; instead it’s merely an existing model in some sharp new bespoke tailoring. Technical highlights? The end result, wrought in aluminium and carbonfibre over 2000 man-hours, is stunning. There are clear nods to the original Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, with details like the gently undulating ‘double bubble’ roof and the rounded snout. Equally there are some very modern lines, particularly the sharply slanting angles of the side windows, which have a hint of GT-R about them. The overall effect is that the Zagato appears wonderfully compact, although it actually has identical dimensions to the V12 Vantage it’s based on. Press the illuminated end of the flush-fitting door handle and the swan door swings out and up to reveal a beautifully trimmed interior. Most of it is standard Vantage fare, but the reworked door panels, seats and, most of all, the headlining above you make it feel like a very special place to be. The leather is thick, the stitching bold, and the wavy design curiously mesmerising. What’s it like to drive? The controls feel very natural with a pleasing weight to them, particularly the pedals. Press the Sport button in front of the gearlever and the throttle response sharpens and the bellow from the V12 increases. And what a voice it has: from inside there’s a deep, almost baleful sound, while from outside or through a tunnel with the windows dropped it sounds like a pure-bred race car. It is the sort of glorious, emotionally resonant noise that would make even the most shy and retiring person want to change down and blip the throttle gratuitously over and over again. Such is the flexibility of the 5.9-litre engine that you can leave it in sixth and flow down the road tackling everything from slow corners to long straights, riding the effortless reserves of torque. Use the full range of gears, though, and the Zagato is as stonkingly fast as you’d hope a small car with a big motor would be. Thankfully the large carbon-ceramic brakes (398mm at the front) have plenty of power and feedback, although they can be momentarily disconcerting if they’ve cooled down (like on a long motorway stretch). You’re aware of the size of the engine in the nose, though, as it takes a moment to settle the weight onto the outside front tyre as you turn in and you find yourself using the throttle to drive through the corner more. But the steering is communicative and the Zagato retains a fundamentally enjoyable front-engine rear-drive balance, making it an incredibly rewarding car to drive quickly. Slacken the DSC either to its well-judged halfway Sport setting or switch it off completely and the Zagato is happy to oversteer once you’ve got the front turned in and hooked up. As you’d expect, it can be quite a hooligan, but I think it feels most rewarding at quite understated slip angles. How does it compare? At £396,000, or approximately three times the price of a standard V12 Vantage, it might seem hard to make a case for the Zagato in purely financial terms. Yet when you clap eyes on it, all possibilities of rational thoughts seem to melt away from your brain. It is a deeply, deeply desirable car. Anything else I need to know? Aston Martin and Zagato have a long history together and this car has been created to celebrate the very birth of the Anglo-Italian relationship 50 years ago. Back then, it was the DB4 GT’s bodywork that was subtly resculpted by the Milanese coachbuilder and just 20 Zagato versions were produced (although an initial run of 25 had been planned). This modern Zagato actually has very little to do with Italy as it was designed in the slightly less flamboyant surroundings of Gaydon by Aston’s Sheffield-bred director of design, Marek Reichman.
See a full feature on the V12 Zagato in issue 181 of evo, on sale Feb 27
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|Max power||510bhp @ 6500rpm|
|Max torque||420lb ft @ 5750rpm|
|0-60||4.2sec (claimed 0-62)|
|Top speed||190mph (claimed)|
|On sale||Now, limited to 101|