Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage is a force to be reckoned with on four wheels.

DRIVEN’s West Coast correspondent Jonathon Ramsey recently put the British thoroughbred through its paces on some of the world’s most scenic roads.

Read on for the full report:

Manufacturers and enthusiasts dream of the biggest engine in the smallest car

The biggest engine in the smallest car. Those seven words have represented both the highest hopes and gravest disillusionments of car lovers.

Even manufacturers and their billions have been torched in the afterburn of Space Shuttle thrust bolted to skateboard handling.

At infrequent intervals, timed with sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, there comes a car gets it right.

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On even rarer occasions, like, with sightings of Halley’s Comet, there comes a car that gets it not just right, but glorious. Such a car is the Aston Martin V12 Vantage.

The admission is almost painful, because the Aston Martin DBS gets so much so perfect.

The V12 Vantage, in some compelling ways, is even better than the DBS

However, the V12 Vantage, in some very compelling ways, is even better.

We pointed our Glacial Blue coupe north and descended onto the Pacific Coast Highway out of Santa Monica, headed to Santa Barbara.

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We had a dinner appointment at Coast, the restaurant in the Canary Hotel, and we wished to know if the V12 Vantage could serve as both gran turismo and cosmopolitan cruiser in the Riviera of the West.

The Aston’s obscenely black interior is a lesson in extravagance

The run to Malibu was a beautiful, but staccato affair.

Any Aston’s interior is a lesson in extravagance, jeweled aluminum details punctuating an obscenely black console, an Alcantara steering wheel and seat inserts providing tactile variety from the thick stitching lashing down even thicker hides.

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Nor does stop-and-go traffic kill the thrill of the high-revving, 510-horsepower engine (same as in the DBS), since at every light you can watch the heat shimmer rise from the vented hood.

It is a constant reminder that there are 12 round legs dying to be stretched.

At every light you can watch the heat shimmer rise from the vented hood

Which, once past Pepperdine, you can do. A looping canyon detour is a test of sporting gumption, and you find it’s all there: every Aston, including the Rapide, is a thoroughbred, but this one is magnificent.

And that’s before you press the Sport button.

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True, hot action will channel serious heat into the footwell, and the gearing is so tuned for giddy-up that in sixth, at 70 mph, the revs make you wish for a seventh gear.

The upside: the overrun, even at 70, is outstanding. So, too, is the car.

The Canary Hotel, built on the ashes of the Hotel Andalucia, gets everything right

Coincidentally, Coast is equally magnificent.

The Canary Hotel was built on the ashes of the Hotel Andalucia, but it gets everything right that the previous hotel got wrong, and we supped on a meal that was unjust reward for having whipped an Aston worse than Jeff Bridges’ did his horse in True Grit.

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The crabcakes, a stock dish too often reduced to mere seafood overtones and sauce, were a pungent mix of distinct flavors. Even the cauliflower soup, a seasonal item and not one we’d normally consider, was divine.

The meal at Coast was so good we don’t remember what we had for desert

The New York steak was savory and succulent, and our guest spent as much time talking about her Arctic Char as she did enjoying it.

The meal was so good, in fact, that we don’t remember what we had for desert.

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We do remember the evening’s nightcap, though: a chalice full of Aston Martin that we sipped all the way back to Los Angeles.

The V12 Vantage is filled with an urgent boldness

Among a brand boasting some of the most beautiful cars on Earth, this particular one is filled with an urgent boldness that forces an a priori admission of infidelity: while we’d marry the DBS, we’d spend many, many vigorous nights in the soul-stirring company of the V12 Vantage.

– J.R.

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Jonathon Ramsey been called “a combination of Frank Sinatra, Lando Calrissian and Indiana Jones,” but he’s not really sure why.  If it’s fast and expensive, he’s driven it.  If it’s fast, expensive and roomy, well, he lets others drive…