Entry level V8 supercar-off: Audi R8 vs Aston Martin Vantage
The coronavirus has seemingly taken over the world forcing everyone into their homes for the next few weeks. With so much time on my hands, my mind has constantly been travelling to the world of used cars in which I can literally spend hours. For some reason, it only recently occurred to me that both the Aston Martin Vantage and Audi R8 are hovering around the €50k mark and I thought I would compare the two.
Obviously here I’m not talking about the gas guzzling V10 Audi or V12 Aston. Instead, I’m interested in the V8 variant of each car which provide eye catching options as a first performance car. In fact, they are both a significant step up on the Mazda MX5 or Toyota MR2 you currently spend more time explaining to your mates why it’s not a hairdresser’s car than actually driving.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage: Bond on a budget
Thanks to the great cinematographic history of the James Bond franchise, Aston Martin has made a name for itself as an elegant, yet still yobbish way of blasting through country lanes.
The V8 Vantage is no different with a mix of a beautifully designed British body concealing almost muscle car-esque underpinnings. Early models costing closer to the €50,000 budget were powered by a modest 4.3-litre V8 putting out around 385hp and 410Nm of torque. That may sound like a laughable figure compared to today’s monsters boast double those numbers, but in my opinion, that’s all you need.
Sat between the front mounted engine and the driven wheels at the back is the six-speed manual gearbox meaning the person lucky enough to be operating it will surely have the widest grin on their face. From a standstill, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage will reach 60mph in 5 seconds and, if given a long enough stretch of tarmac, will peak just shy of 175mph.
Yes, that’s nothing to brag about when hatchbacks are also just as quick but that’s not the point of the Aston. It was never considered the perfect car and that is frankly half the appeal. The fact that it doesn’t have perfect 50:50 weight distribution or massive carbon ceramic brakes just means it’s more of an involving drive at slower speeds.
Finally, we can’t talk about an Aston Martin without mentioning the styling. Lacking the carbon-finished aero parts of today’s supercars, it has a simple and inoffensive look that will help you avoid the hateful stares of jealous passers-by. I mean, who doesn’t love looking at an Aston?
Audi R8: The benchmark for cheap supercar s
Ever since its 2007 unveiling, the Audi R8 has been the benchmark in the world of entry-level supercars. Despite its low starting price, it has been praised by owners and journalists alike for its ability to compete with the big boys.
It manages to provide supercar thrills thanks to a mid-engine, all-wheel drive setup that went on to inspire the entire supercar industry. The 4.2-litre V8 that sits just behind the driver’s head sends 420hp and 430Nm of torque to all four wheels thanks to Audi’s Quattro system that, at the time of the R8’s introduction was nearly 25 years old.
Despite the system’s age, it allows the driver a second chance should they overstep the mark in slippery conditions. It also gives the car a touch more grip than a two-wheel drive alternative lowering the 0-60mph time to 4.6 seconds. The V8 engine has enough grunt to then push the car all the way up to 187mph.
Just like with the Vantage, the paddle shift R-tronic gearbox was pretty much useless. However, when the spec sheet shows a tick next to the 6-speed manual gearbox option, you’re sure to have a laugh. Not only is it a manual box but it also has a gated shifter which is literally the dream as each gear clicks satisfyingly into place. I could listen to someone play with a gated shifter for hours without getting bored.
With a sleek, low stance, the Audi certainly has more of a supercar look to it. The four wheels almost protrude from the body work that is delicately draped upon them. With the engine in the rear of the car, the bonnet can almost point towards the ground because luggage is just an option when on a road trip, right?
Similarly to the Aston, I would say that the R8 has an unaggressive look to it. Albeit the vanes under the lights and the contrasting panel behind the doors add some form of a sporty look but it’s nowhere near as harsh of a design as modern supercars.
Audi R8 versus Aston Martin V8 Vantage: What’s my take?
After spending way too much time looking at different cars for sale and their specs, I think I’ve come to a conclusion as to which one I would go for at that price.
Although the Audi is probably the better car with a preferable layout, extra technology such as the Quattro system and probably better engineering gone into it, I have to say that the Aston Martin has a place in my heart. One of my fondest Top Gear memories is Jeremy Clarkson’s film on the V12 Vantage S and yes, I know it’s not the same model and far from the same price but that influences my decision here.
Furthermore, the thought of sliding the Vantage through roundabouts on a damp surface whilst skilfully going through the gears on the six-speed is the stuff of dreams. I guess perfection just isn’t for me.