Is Aston Martin’s latest Vantage finally a 911 beater?
Alex Goy is a freelance motoring journalist who writes for the likes of Motor1, Carfection, CNET and DriveTribe.
Vantage used to be the name given to the quick Astons. The name that meant there was something a little extra under the hood soon became a car in its own right.
The last generation Vantage was a hit for the company, and was designed to give Porsche’s 911 a good kicking, and it didn’t. It was great, but not as sharp as the 997 it was built to take on. Or the 991 that succeeded it. The V12 was a giggle, mind.
The latest Vantage is all new, all different, and littered with German bits. Perhaps this new one can give the 911 a decent run? Here's 7 things you need to know about the new car...
1) Its turbocharged V8 makes the good numbers
Aston Martin is owned in part by Mercedes-AMG. This means it gets access to the same toys that AMG has access to. While the n/a 4.7-litre V8 in the previous Vantage made a very lovely noise, it’s not got a patch on the power of the new 4.0-litre twin turbo V8.
Kicking out 503bhp and 505lb ft, there’s ample power to play with. 0-62mph takes 3.6 seconds, and it’ll crack 195mph as well, which is pretty punchy. When you lean on it you’re fired forward hard and pushed back in your seat with quite some ferocity.
2) Many modes make work for idle hands
You no longer have a sports car that just does angry all the time, which is good if you live anywhere with rough roads.
The Vantage is pretty serene on regular tarmac, giving your arse a decent time of things. Switch its ride from the standard Sport to Sport+ and it firms up nicely at a slight cost to your buttocks, and it amps up further when you prod it in to the most hardcore Track setting.
Track mode should be kept for tracks and super smooth tarmac only as it’s pretty rough. The powertrain has the same three settings, and makes the engine and gearbox either mildly irritated, quite miffed, or very cross indeed. Keep the springs in the their softest setting and the motor ‘quite miffed’ for the best experience.
3) Steer well, sweet Vantage
Steering feedback and feel is bang on what you’d hope it would be. Porsche’s effort in the 911 is still a little sweeter, but that’s not to say Aston’s team has done a bad job in the slightest. More than that, it means it’s smooth, precise, and gives you a whole heap of feedback.
4) Creature comforts
Praise be, once again, to the German connection for the Vantage’s infotainment system. Aston’s old systems were pretty awful, mixing mid-to-late noughties tech with awkward ergonomics. The new car comes with a version of Mercedes’ COMAND system, which isn’t the best out there by a long shot, but a vast improvement over what came before. It’s intuitive enough for most, just a bit fiddly.
5) That cliché about beauty is true
In the grand scheme it doesn’t matter if you fancy your friend’s partner, because so long as they’re not objectionable humans you have nothing to complain about. You don’t have to like the look of the new Vantage either, and that’s just fine for those who do. Yeah, it looks a bit like a shark, and yeah, it’s not as classically beautiful as some of Aston’s previous models, but if you don’t like the look then don’t put your money down.
6) But some things might irk
The interior door handles are a pain to use as they seem to be pointing the wrong way to be easy to use, there are LOTS of buttons in the interior which will take a while to learn and irritate people who are tough screen purists (who are a strange bunch), there’s no glovebox because… reasons? And its key is big enough to kill a man if you hurl it at his head.
7) And the interior design isn’t as smart as the exterior
There are many buttons, which is a good thing, but they’re laid out in strange places, which gives the cockpit really strange feel.
The test car also came with that dappled carbon fibre that’s doing the rounds at the moment it just looked a bit naff. This is Aston Martin’s sports offering, so it needs to look all swoopy and dynamic and fashionable for people who are in to sportswear. Shell suits used to be sportswear in the 90s and they’re not de rigour any more, so how’s the interior of the Vantage gonna look and feel in a decade?