It's here: take a tour of the first new Aston Martin Vantages to hit NZ
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Aston Martin are in a curious position at the minute. Sales figures worldwide have sat at an all-time high over the last few years, but questions still remain of the company's global profitability. But an £87million profit recorded in February quells some of those worries, and so too does the global introduction of the second-generation Vantage.
Calling it the 'baby' Aston is a touch condescending, especially when the Vantage is probably the most important car in the brand's line-up right now. With no SUV present (yet), the British marque will hope for it to become a firm volume seller in markets like New Zealand.
And to a degree, that's already been underlined by all of the company's first Kiwi batch being pre-sold prior to their arrival.
And that arrival's now upon us, with the first few new Vantages landing in New Zealand. They sit at the Giltrap Group's Auckland headquarters on Great North Road, and are set to be revealed to the public for the first time tomorrow (doors opening from 10am, for those wanting a peek).
Of course, those craving a Vantage can put their names down for one (local prices start at $249,000). But waiting periods are to be expected. For those on the pre-sales list, cars are expected to arrive en masse in August.
We drove the Vantage on track and through some twisty roads back in April, and loved every minute of it. Under the skin, it's a superb blend of Lotus-based chassis and handling development and AMG-based power via a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that pumps out 375kW and 683Nm.
But the Vantage remains somewhat controversial with some, and that's nothing to do with its mechanicals or its performance. Instead, it's naturally a looks thing.
The Vantage represents the second car in Aston Martin's new phase of vehicles, coming after the DB11. And in many ways it's a design departure from its predecessor, as well as the old Vanquish and DB9 that existed as AM staples for so long. But the more you survey the Vantage in person, the more distinctly 'Aston Martin' it looks.
That grill on the front, for instance, still holds the same silhouette as the grills of its forefathers. Though, it does look a little lost on the hero 'Ultramarine Black' example showcased to us ahead of Saturday's reveal. Under the dramatically dim lights of the main Aston showroom, the colour looks almost completely black. But out in the open, it turns into a subtle dark blue.
Above the grill are a pair of soft headlights; a look some have likened to the Mazda MX-5. Compact dimensions underline the rest of the car, while a taillight that curls around the rear — flowing along the line of the duck-tail rear spoiler — is the back end's most discussed feature.
It's the rear of the car that I find most fascinating. Wide hips see light bounce off the rear arches in all sorts of angles; helped along too by a hatch that flares gradually upwards to make a spoiler shape. Pan downwards, and the bodywork's soft lines are juxtaposed by the harsh and firm form of the rear diffuser.
Perforated panelling surrounds the rear exhausts, which gives punters the chance to peek through at the car's architecture like a key-hole.
The more you look at it, the more detail it reveals. Like the contoured cuts to the bodywork above the side-skirt and rear diffuser that give the Aston a sculpted, slimmed-down look — like a Coke bottle.
But, if anything, the interior is an even bigger departure for Aston Martin.
Remember; nearly every Aston since the original Vanquish has had a very similar interior design. Classy and classic, but ageing and quite clearly hampered by various raids to the parts bin.
But, things have changed. The Vantage's cabin is modern and forward-facing, with a style clearly different from those before it. It comes with the same shapely sports steering wheel as the DB11, admittedly, but otherwise things are all new in here.
Air vents protrude outwards, looking over a bevy of buttons arranged in a 'V' shape (naturally, the meeting point in the middle is the crystallised 'Start' button). The rotating selector and finger pad look like Mercedes parts because they are; they link to a Mercedes-based infotainment system.
There are sports-car tropes present, too. There's enough carbon fibre to let you know you're in a performance weapon, but they don't go overboard. Sports seats are binding, but not uncomfortable (helping plenty when it comes to ingress and egress). And leather and suede door handles give off race-car flavour, too.
Behind the steering wheel are a trio of digital dials, while a pair of robust paddles connected to the coupe's eight-speed transmission fall to hand nicely.
But the Vantage should get all the glory. It's joined this weekend by two other models new to the New Zealand market — a pair of cars that sit on opposing ends of the DB11 spectrum.
One is the V12 DB11 AMR; the most track-focussed 'eleven' yet. An uprated twin turbo V12 engine shaves a quarter of a second off its 0–100km/h time. It now does the tonne in only 3.5 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 334km/h. That, technically, makes it the quickest Aston Martin in their range.
It signals its presence with black wheels and lime highlights on the brake calipers and through the interior. Buyers can also option it with lime striping ... if they want.
New Zealand pricing for the AMR (not to be confused with AMG, of course ...) starts at $355,000. That's just $5000 more than the current model — not a bad trade for 22kW more power. All V12 coupes coming into New Zealand from now on will be the AMR addition, and it's hard to see any negative to that.
At the other end of the scale, also depicted in Ultramarine Black, is the V12 Volante roadster.
As you can see, it's the DB11's drop-top model. Power and performance don't change, but they don't have to. The Volante isn't for lap times and track thrashing (though, there's nothing stopping you). It's for messing up your hair, getting the best possible taste of that V12 engine note, and one of the best GT cruiser experiences in the segment.
Regardless of your opinions on Aston Martins' old interior designs, it's hard to argue with the wealth of colour and material selection and customization. And on this first New Zealand-new Volante, it's no different.
Blue leather might not be to everyone's favour, but it matches well with the Ultramarine exterior and the matte-finish dark wood that's layered on the seat backs, centre console, and door cards.
Roof up to roof down takes 14 seconds, and add two seconds to the timer when doing the opposite. With the canvas erect, the DB11 Volante suffers the same fate of many a soft-top before it — it doesn't look as sharp as it does down. Perhaps a weakness, given New Zealand's current mix of weather.
Volante pricing begins at $315,000; slotting it $40,000 underneath the AMR and subsequently making it the cheapest way to hop into a V12 DB11.
But again, it's the Vantage that Aston hopes will keep their sales juggernaut ticking. Its price may have risen (it used to start at $215,000), but so too has the tech, and arguably the presence in person of the 'baby' in the line-up.
While there's unlikely to be a hi-po V12 Vantage in the pipeline, expect to see a flurry of models added to the range in coming years. An S and AMR are likely, a Red Bull edition ... probably not.
Check out our full Vantage, DB11 AMR, and DB11 Volante gallery below: