by: Mike Ginsca
Traditionally, Aston Martin’s are known for being exquisite GT cars and works of art on wheels. Aston Martin decided to change that notion with the resurrection of the Vantage name. Instead of being another GT car, the Vantage is a sports car that was designed to compete with the likes of the Porsche 911. Performance – Sports cars are primarily designed to go around corners as quickly as it is physically possible. That’s why when the Aston Martin engineers were developing the Aston Martin Vantage, they went to a race track in Germany called the Nurburgring which has 154 corners. After the countless time they had spent at the race track, the end result was a sports car that had precise, sure-footed, and rewarding handling characteristics. With the exception of the Porsche 911, there is no other sports car on the market that can match the Aston Martin V8 Vantage for sheer driving pleasure when it is around a racetrack or through a twisty mountain pass. It may not have the Adaptive Damping System (ADS) that its bigger brother, the DB9, has, but the double wishbone front & rear suspension offers an exceptional amount of grip. At all times the driver can feel through the steering wheel whether the front wheels are slipping due to understeer or are right on the limit of grip that the 235 wide front tires can provide. Once you do go past the limits of grip, traction control and stability control intervenes like a hammer and immediately cuts power to the engine in order for you to regain control of the vehicle. However if you wish to turn off those systems, the car is predictable when it does lose grip and easy to regain control of thanks to its near perfect weight distribution. Making those rear tires spin is the job of the 4.3L Jaguar derived V8 engine. It produces a respectable 380hp and 302 lb-ft of torque that is enough to launch the Aston Martin V8 Vantage to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds. However in a straight line drag race, the Vantage would actually come in last place because the Porsche 911 weighs almost 100kg less and the BMW M6 and Jaguar XKR have more power. But somehow it doesn’t really matter when you’re behind the wheel of this car because there is a sense of drama regardless of the speed you’re going. You put your foot down on the accelerator and the “machine gun” noise coming from the exhaust overwhelms all other senses. But straight line drag racing was not the intended type of racing that the engineers had in mind for this car. Around a circuit, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage will keep up and beat the more powerful BMW M6 and Jaguar XKR thanks to its sublime handling and grip however it will struggle a bit more to keep up with the nimbler Porsche 911. Another great feature that makes this car so much fun is the fact that it has a traditional 6-speed manual gearbox. It seems that more and more manufacturers are choosing to do away with manual gearboxes in favor of faster automatics or dual clutch transmissions. Although the V8 Vantage is available with an automatic, the manual is a joy and pleasure to operate even in slow bumper to bumper traffic. The shifter has short throws and each gear selection has a precise feeling just like the rest of the driving experience that this Aston Martin emphasizes. Comfort – Just like the rest of the car, the attention to detail inside the V8 Vantage is second to none. The cabin is fitted with quality hand-stitched leather throughout the dashboard, center console, and of course seats. The instrument cluster looks like it is encased in a single piece of brushed aluminum and the engine start button is made of glass that illuminates red when pressed. The cabin is spacious even for taller drivers and thankfully Aston Martin didn’t try to stuff two seats in the back because there just wouldn’t be any room. Instead there is a small storage space for smaller items. The trunk has a generous 300L of space for bags but the opening of the truck, which is actually a hatch, is a bit on the narrow side. The cabin is also well insulated from outside noises, that is until the valves in the exhaust open up and you hear that glorious V8 roar. Odds and Ends – Like all other Aston Martins’, this Vantage will turn heads everywhere it goes. It is hard not to look at the smooth flowing lines of the body followed shortly by the unique noise of the V8. It may not be the fastest or least expensive sports car out there but it is unquestionably the most beautiful and it delivers on exactly what it looks like; a fun sports car.
Thank you to Autoform Performance Inc. for providing the car.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.