Short sharp shock: meet the fiery new Aston Martin Vantage
Some cars are defined by their looks, others by how they drive, or what they contain inside.
The new Aston Martin Vantage combines all three: it looks great, drives like a demon and has an interior that oozes quality.
It’s the most agile car in an Aston Martin range that is widening in scope and personality, with each car becoming increasingly more characterful.
Product differentiation is the marketing jargon, but to you and I it means a real sense of clear blue water between models.
So, yes, the Vantage rides on a shortened version of the Aston Martin DB11 platform, but this is cleverly executed to make the DB11 an quintessential grand tourer whilst the Vantage is its extrovert - but not uncouth - younger brother: faster, firmer and and more dramatic to drive.
It’s quick all right, 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 195mph. It has to be, of course, since it’s competing with the likes of the Porsche 911 Turbo.
Vantage is a name that echoes down Aston Martin’s history like an emblem. It first hove into sight in 1951 on a high-output engine option for the DB2, according to company lore.
It was used in high-performance variants, and in endurance racing, and also in the V8 Vantage model, first seen in roadster guise in 2006.
The all-new model was released in 2018, and was the first car developed from conception to completion under the company’s new leadership team headed by boss Andy Palmer.
It is, therefore, a critical model, and one that they couldn’t afford to get wrong. Thankfully, the opposite is the case; the car is little short of brilliant, a showcase for the best of British design and engineering.
The design is very well executed: short and sharp, both in looks and intent. The front end is at once purposeful, muscular and fluid. The rear is a particular joy, with beautifully detailed spoiler, exhausts and lights.
Under the bonnet lurks a new alloy, 4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that is set low and far back in the chassis producing, says Aston Martin, optimal centre of gravity and perfect 50:50 weight distribution.
The engine, Mercedes-sourced but refined by Aston Martin, outputs 510PS at 6000rpm and 685Nm from 2000-5000rpm. Combined with a light weight of 1530kg (dry), this produces formidable power to weight and torque to weight ratios. And, incidentally, a truly beautiful throaty soundtrack.
The shortened bonded aluminium chassis may have been developed from the DB11 but 70% of the structure’s components are said to be completely new for the Vantage.
This chassis houses a raft of integrated electronic systems designed to blend driver enjoyment, speed, handling and safety, including Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Torque Vectoring.
The new Vantage is the first Aston Martin to get an Electronic Rear Differential (E-Diff), which is is linked to the electronic stability control system.
For the Vantage, Aston Martin has banished Comfort mode to the history books. The modes are Sport, Sport+ and Track.
Sport and Sport Plus (which I got to try over delightfully winding roads in the north Pennines) are little short of sports car heaven. The basic Sport mode is fluid, slick and responsive and Plus is fun; more brutal but still incredibly enjoyable. Acceleration is lightning quick, but cornering is always composed.
Transmission comes in the shape of a rear mid-mounted ZF eight-speed auto ‘box, and the brakes are front ventilated two-piece steel discs, with ventilated co-cast discs at the rear (optional ceramic brakes are available).
The car is shod in 20-inch Y-spoke silver wheels, and the tyres are Pirelli P Zeros.
The cabin is a delight, enveloping the driver, perched in a low-slung sports seat, in a level of craftmanship that befits the hallowed Aston Martin brand: stitched leather and Alcantara, tactile materials, beautiful paintwork and extensive personalisation possibilities.
Aston Martin has forgone any attempt at rear seats, instead offering a larger boot that is said to be able accommodate two golf bags.
The company is working hard at updating its tech, and the Vantage gets the latest of this effort: the new Aston Martin Audio System, an 8-inch LCD screen, iPhone integration and USB playback DAB radio, Bluetooth audio capability and an integrated sat nav.
All in, it’s another highly accomplished and clever play from Aston Martin. In truth, it’s hard to see how the Vantage could have been executed any better. It is a true sports car, designed for the sheer joy of driving, and worth every penny of its £120,900 recommended retail price.
Indeed, the Vantage is another critical car from Aston Martin, as it enters an equally critical period of its history.
Up next is roll-out of the flagship DBS Superleggera and then the much-anticipated DBX SUV. Watch this space.
Belfast Telegraph Digital