Behind The Wheel: Aston Martin Vantage

The Aston Martin Vantage is worth getting up early for. When the key is in your possession, it’s the kind of car you think about just before you fall asleep. And it’s the first thing that crosses your mind when you wake up. It should be, in every sense, a supercar. It certainly feels fast enough. It’s this speed and on-road capability that you think about when you lay there in darkness, it’s raucous V8 engine note doing laps around your brain. The supercar moniker doesn’t quite suit Aston though, the brand is too elegant and refined to care for such titles. Which is perhaps why the British marque simply refers to the car as a ‘predator’. It hunts and consumes roads with reckless abandon when in attack (track) mode. Behind the wheel you get the sense it’s ready to pounce at any moment, and most of the time, it’s all too tempting to give in and let the car unleash itself.

What Is It?

This is Aston Martin’s ‘entry-level’ model. There’s not much that’s entry about it. Aston has gone all out with its design, which is completely new from the ground up – a welcome choice considering the old Vantage dates from 2005. Aston’s previous generation, including the DB9, had been around for so long it was a wonder they’d ever be succeeded. Aston Martin cars have often referenced the past, with its signature design trait a distinctive gaping grille, first seen with the DB Mark III of 1957. Nearly all of its models have featured this, and the new Vantage is no different. It’s a decidedly modern looking thing though and the British marque can no longer be accused of dining out on the success of its heritage. This car looks ahead, it’s the Aston of the future.

One of the ways it’s looking forward is with its partnership with Mercedes. As part of the deal, Aston Martin uses Mercedes-AMG engines and borrows plenty of tech, including the sat-nav system and overhead parking cameras. Part of the centre console is taken straight out of Mercedes, too. There are still plenty of details inside that remind the driver what they’re sitting in though. The elongated, sculpted metal paddle shifters click satisfyingly when changing gear, the flat-bottomed steering wheel nods to Aston Martin’s racing heritage, and the model tested was swathed in nappy alcantara, which felt suitably expensive. Shout out to the beautifully designed magnetised sun visors, which feel like a bespoke addition to an already luxurious cabin.

The Feel

Aston Martin’s intentions with the Vantage are immediately clear the moment you push the ‘engine start’ button. The 4-litre, twin-turbo V8 roars to life and maintains a hungry burble once it settles down. Unlike many new sports cars, the Vantage doesn’t have a ‘comfort’ driving mode – it defaults in ‘sport’. It’s not interested in dumbing itself down and demands that you drive it with the vigour it deserves. Which is why, as soon as you’re driving on anything other than a motorway, you should put it straight into ‘track’ mode. The Vantage is a car you’ll want to accelerate in at every opportunity. You’ll end up going for the smallest of overtaking gaps and it’ll make them seem huge. Thumping through the gears produces addictive crackles and pops that’ll turn you into a child as you absorb A roads with ease. Enter a corner and the car is on rails, giving the driver a confidence that, in my case, far out-weighs my ability. It’s very good.

The Engine

It’s also very fast. The old Vantage achieved 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds. The new one does it in 3.6. The old car had 430bhp and 361lb ft of torque. The new car has 503bhp and a huge 505lb ft. It’s also 80kg lighter. You get the idea. Some will miss the natural aspirated Astons of old, and sure, the car doesn’t have the same unhinged V8 rumble of the previous generation. But on the road you wouldn’t know the car is turbocharged. There’s no lag to speak of and the exhaust note is raucous. What’s more, the car is faster as a direct result of its turbos, turning it into an overtaking weapon. You don’t need more speed than this. A slightly less raw engine note for vastly increased performance? We’ll take that trade-off every time.


The Verdict

Yes, the Vantage is quick, but it’s also incredibly stylish. And more so than all of its rivals. Nothing from Ferrari, Mercedes, Audi or McLaren can rival the elegance and poise of its muscular design. People don’t get angry at you for driving an Aston Martin. They admire it, smile at you and appreciate your good taste.

Maybe it’s the James Bond connection, or the fact the Vantage is just simply, intangibly, cool. It could be the best looking sports car on the market today, and also happens to drive spectacularly well. A bargain at £120k? Perhaps not, but you won’t have more fun on four wheels. And you won’t look as good either.


Top Speed: 195mph
Acceleration (0-60mph): 3.6 seconds
Engine: 4-litre, twin-turbo V8
Power: 503bhp
Price: From £120,900

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