The Aston Martin Vantage from my Vantage point
A first-person review of the 2020 Aston Martin Vantage
Last week, I had the ride of my lifetime. I was lucky enough to drive (yes, drive) the 2020 Aston Martin Vantage near my home in California. Obviously, teenagers like myself normally don't get the opportunity to drive a car (or any car for that matter) and I am very lucky. This only happened because of the kindness of a fellow car enthusiast and family friend - Robert Hammer. I would like to thank Mr. Hammer (who also owns ) and has helped my Dad acquire his cars since 1997. Mr. Hammer allowed me a first-person experience with his Vantage and a day I won't forget. I also learned a lot about how auto brokers help people obtain cars of all types and will be doing an article on Hammer Auto Brokers very soon. But for now, let's explore the 2020 Aston Martin Vantage!
Robert Hammer (left) and I in front of his Aston Martin Vantage
As any real petrol head knows, Aston Martin makes some of the most memorable and recognizable sports cars of all time. From the classy DB5 featured in the James Bond movie Goldfinger, to the all-out DBS Superleggera, Aston Martin is competent enough to make a unique range of vehicles. Almost three years ago, November 21 of 2017 to be exact, Aston Martin revealed the newest generation of its sporty and sophisticated two door coupé, the Vantage. Though it is Aston Martin's least expensive model, with a base price tag of $149,995 it will still put a dent in your wallet. The model I drove would cost $185,000 at the dealer (less through an auto broker such as Mr. Hammer) and features exactly what you want - power and luxury.
Aston Martin's exteriors are known for being nothing short of beautiful. The Vantage's styling is indeed dashing and exceeded my exceptions. The Vantage's modern and minimalistic design proves that less is more. It's styling says many things to many people. For some, it says it is powerful or exceptionally fast. To others like me, it says the car is ideal for a fun drive on California's curvy and beautiful backroads such as San Jose-Soquel Road, what we call "the back way" from Silicon Valley to the beach. Personally, I think the Vantage is one of the best looking street-legal Aston Martins of it's time, if not ever.
Inside the cabin
Sure, the interior of a new Porsche 911 is nice. A BMW 7 Series' interior is quite luxurious. But, nothing seems to compete with the quality and level of precision found in the Vantage. The stitching of the Aston Martin "wings" found on the seats was on point and the leather is what you'd expect in a Bentley Continental. The overall cabin is also surprisingly roomy for a two seater. To my surprise, I found the interior more spacious than my Dad's 911 Carrera S. All these things are amazing, but nothing compared to how the smooth leather seats gripped my body in a luxurious, comfortable and yet sporty way as the Vantage accelerated and cornered.
Besides materials, interior design is another super important aspect. The Vantage's interior itself is unique. While most cars have a normal shifter on the center console to move from "park" to "drive," an interesting quirk/feature of the Vantage that took me a little while to notice is that there is no such shifter. Rather, the Vantage provides buttons located below the infotainment console to put the car in park, etc. Even the rather basic act of closing the Vantage's doors is an elegant experience. The Vantage's doors open at a sexy, slightly upward angle requiring those inside the cabin to close them differently than a standard inward pull. Aston Martin has provided a stylish leather strap located towards the bottom of the the door panel to pull the door downward and inward. To open the door from inside the cabin, you insert your fingers in and around a smooth metal "grip" and gently pull towards your body to activate the stylish wing-like doors. None of the other cars I've been in offers an interior like the Vantage's.
The traditional center console shifter has been replaced by buttons in the Vantage.
The driving experience
As I mentioned at the top, this article is about a first-person driving experience. Before you absolutely nuke the comments section with "how would you know what it feels like to drive a Vantage" or "the driving experience is different from the riding experience" read my lips: Yes, I drove it. By myself. While I would have loved to drive the Vantage for the entire day, my time behind the wheel had to be shorter than I preferred for obvious reasons such as I am 13! But it was effective (and fun) enough for me to form an opinion of the Vantage.
When my Dad arranged my Vantage experience with Mr. Hammer, I honestly thought it would be an experience from the passenger seat. I mean, let's face it, I'm a teenager and this is a $185,000 vehicle. Who would let me behind the wheel of this fine piece of machinery? Mr. Hammer began my test drive in the driver's seat showing me the Vantage's acceleration (see video below) and handling. Then, much to my surprise, he pulled over and offered me a chance behind the wheel. I was excited and a bit nervous with the little voice in my head warning me not to crash the most beautiful car I've ever been in! Once I adjusted the seat and buckled in, the next thing I noticed was Mr. Hammer was stepping out of the Vantage to take a business call. I figured I would wait until he was done but he told me to go ahead without him. Yes...without him in the car! All of a sudden, I was the only person in the car and there wasn't anybody to tell me to slow down! Before I even talk about the driving experience, let me tell you what makes all of this even more special: Mr. Hammer doesn't let anyone but him drive his Vantage. No valets, not even his wife! That means that Mr. Hammer and I are the only ones who have driven this Vantage. He trusted me, which is pretty cool.
That's me. Scary to think I'd be in the driver seat operating any car, let alone a Vantage
Engine and Acceleration
The Vantage is powered by Mercedes AMG's 4.0 litre bi-turbo V8 producing a blistering 503 horsepower and 505 pounds-feet of torque. In case you didn't know, the magnitude of those figures are insane for a car of that size. When accelerating, the rumble of the V8 overtakes any music or conversation. The dual clutch/automatic transmission's smooth and natural-feeling shifts pair nicely with the tranquil driving experience. The Vantage's acceleration made me feel like I was in heaven. When Mr. Hammer accelerated 0-80 I felt as if I were blasting off in a rocket. So much so that my seatbelt activated the automatic lock as if I was in a crash or had to emergency brake. Not only did it ride like a rocket, it sounded like one, too! Don't believe me? Watch this on par video I took when accelerating.
That's certainly the quickest I have ever gotten to 80 miles per hour.
Suspension and Handling
Whether you are going to take a quick drive to the grocery store, a trip to the beach or a spin on the track, the Vantage's V8 and perfectly tuned independent suspension will satisfy your needs. When Mr. Hammer downshifted around a corner the hard suspension stabilized the car dramatically. Firm suspension is one of the things makes the Vantage's driving experience so surreal.
The oversteer was on point. Steering wan't too loose for a daily driver like our 911, and it wasn't too neutral like the loaner Porsche Macan my Dad and I are driving this week with the 911 Carrera S in the shop. When cornering - yes I went fast enough to corner properly - I felt in control of the car. Sitting in the driver seat and accelerating felt as if I was on the biggest drop of a fast roller coaster. Everything about the driving experience is what you'd expect from an Aston Martin: wonderful.
Braking in the Vantage was a new experience for me and I would need more time behind the wheel to become comfortable with the break sensitivity. Normally I can brake smoothly in a car with performance-oriented brake sensitivity, but the Vantage's brakes were so tight I got thrusted forward the first time I had to brake. Although the speed of deceleration was incredible, I found braking hard to control because, well, I just haven't had enough experience with brakes at this level of performance. Hopefully, I will get more opportunities to drive the Vantage in the future and improve my braking ability.
A look under the hood
I have always thought that the Vantage is the best value-for-money luxury sports car. Finally I have the hands-on evidence to back that claim up. It is the closest you will get to finding the perfect balance for not only luxury and overall classiness, but also speed and power. With over 500 horsepower, and a dual clutch automatic gearbox to pair it with, cruising down the highway at 80 (I mean 65, Officer...) miles per hour is a dream. Plus, you have the comfort of the leather bucket-like seats. The car is so nice that only thing I would change in the 2020 Aston Martin Vantage would be an actual center console gear shifter as opposed to buttons. But, other than that, you can't go wrong with an Aston Martin Vantage!
My Overall Rating
Check out an extended photo gallery of the 2020 Aston Martin Vantage!