Aston Martin Vantage: More than a sports car
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Summing up the all-new Aston Martin Vantage is as simple as this: it puts the “sport” into “sports car”.
Launched early this year, the Vantage is now on sale in New Zealand with my test model priced at $331,310, and is set to be the most important player for Aston Martin worldwide.
The Vantage is Aston’s machine to take on the Porsche 911, Audi R8 and Mercedes-AMG GT S, where there is shared technology.
It’s a totally different looking Vantage from the previous model, sharing only the door handles.
The result is one of the most stunning, and head-turning, sports cars I’ve driven.
From the muscular bonnet, low overhangs front and rear and to the exterior highlight, through to the rear wrap around LED lights, this Vantage is a looker.
But it’s more than good looks. It has front mid-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive and under the bonnet is the AMG twin-turbo 4-litre V8, that has 375kW of power and 695Nm of torque through only the rear wheels.
That engine sits almost entirely behind its front axle line and uses a propeller shaft and rear-mounted transaxle eight-speed automatic gearbox — distinguishing it from the DB11.
It is also noted for it’s advanced electronic rear differential and 50/50 weight balance characteristics.
Suspension is via double wishbones at the front wheels and a multi-link configuration at the rear that differs from what you’ll find on a DB11. Steel coil springs and Skyhook adaptive dampers cradle the car’s mass and, in a first for any Aston, a clutch-based active torque-vectoring e-diff distributes driving torque between the car’s rear wheels.
The Vantage adopts Aston’s new bonded aluminium platform and has the most purposeful mechanical specification of any Vantage to date.
Aston uses words such as athletic and predatory stance to describe the appearance of its new 4.5m-long two-seat coupe that it says is a sports car rather than a GT.
The Vantage is 80mm longer, almost 80mm wider and slightly taller than the car it replaces. Wheelbase has grown by more than 100mm.
It has a muscular bonnet, wide haunches and dramatic lighting. The grille is grand, creating a look of a $500,000 luxury sports car.
Inside, the driver is low and snug with the seven-sided steering wheel sitting towards your chest and a high shoulder line surrounding you.
The Vantage’s 8in infotainment system comes from Daimler but it’s disappointing that it doesn’t get Mercedes-Benz’s latest generation system.
It does get the Mercedes touchpad rotary input device and voice command to control the infotainment system and navigation, and this works well, though Aston Martin should negotiate for Daimler’s Siri-like system “hey Mercedes” in future products.
Inside the cabin, the V-shaped centre console from Mercedes makes it tech heavy, but don’t panic; you can control much of the car via the steering wheel where you can switch between driving systems, and use large paddles to flick though the gears.
The driver’s seat is sports-orientated with bracing next to your left leg to help going through tight corners.
The passenger space is roomy while the boot is impressive for a sports coupe with room for luggage, shopping or golf clubs.
There are three driving modes: sport, sport + and track. No comfort here, this is a pure sports car, thank you.
Sport is the everyday drive system but sport+ is fun with the exhaust taking a deep tone and the torque levelled at 2000rpm at cruise mode, ready to pump through the gas when speed is needed.
And you don’t need to be on a track to enjoy track mode; the system holds down the gears ready to give you the legs you need if you are racing. It sat in third gear as I noisily cruised along the motorway at 100km/h.
The sheer stability of the rear axle is fantastic. In Sport+, your options are expanded to include a tight cornering style.
The Vantage’s engine is loud — just as you’d expect — and sounds great in all modes. There is plenty of fun to be had with a rev on the accelerator in park — a great wake up call for the neighbours!
The Vantage’s gearbox is smooth, even when you dial in Sport+ mode, it keeps level and responsive.
Aston’s decision to make the new Vantage a wider, meaner
and more purposeful-looking sports car also makes it physically wider on the road, but it doesn’t inhibit driving it in tight spaces.
I had it for four days (a real treat) and despite the size and weight of 1800kg, it’s an easy car to live with. You just have to be prepared for a crowd wherever you park it.
A highlight for everyday living with it is that the entry and exit into the Vantage is some of the easiest I’ve encountered in a sports coupe as there is no wide lip to vault over.
It is also gains features to make day-to-day living easy such as auto park assist (where it parks itself), blind spot monitoring, heated seats, and rear camera. This makes it more than a weekend runabout.
Aston Martin Vantage
Engine: 4-litre V8 (375kW/695Nm)
Pros: Looks, performance
Cons: Needs latest info technology
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