Powerful, fast and very effective – that’s what we’ve concluded after putting the new baby Aston through its paces at the Portimao track in Portugal.
They say that change is the only constant. And while the validity of this statement may very well be a matter of debate amongst philosophers, it seems that Aston Martin has adopted this idea very well. How, you ask? Well, the latest generation of the Vantage breaks away from the traditional design philosophy of the brand and flaunts new and bold lines. Its compact proportions are well aided by a short front overhang, slanting roofline and a slender tail. Amidst all the changes, it does, however, retain a typical Aston Martin styling element – the wide trapezoidal radiator grille.
The moment you get behind the wheel, you can’t help but notice that the British marque has taken a giant leap forward with this new baby Aston. The classic round dials have been replaced by three TFT screens – the one in the middle is a tach, while the other two display information related to the mechanics and functioning of the vehicle. There’s a big centre console that has one too many buttons and controls. The driving position is what one would call sporty. You sit quite low in the car – the ride height being only 127cm – and the seat seems to have been tailor-made to give you a sporty driving experience. On the whole, the interior is rich and luxurious, aided by a generous dose of Alcantara.
First things first, the bi-turbo V8 in the Vantage doesn’t offer linear progression – like, say, the twin-turbo V8 from Maranello (the one in the Ferrari 488 GTB that is). In terms of power and torque though, this motor is second to none. One wouldn’t use the word elegant to describe its power delivery, for the simple reason that it’s wild and brutal. Add to that the reduced weight of the new chassis, and you have a sports car that shoots forward like a predator towards its prey – accompanied by the thrilling growl of the V8. It’s free-revving, and without a proper exercise of caution, you’re likely to hit the limiter – set at 7,000rpm – with the transmission in manual mode. Speaking of the transmission, the ZF 8-speed close-ratio gearbox is seamless and offers very quick gearshifts. However, what caught our attention about this new Aston was its perfect chassis balance. Even when pushed hard, it hardly flexes. And you can gauge the stiffness of the chassis from how quickly the Vantage reacts to your commands. Its steering is precise and progressive and reliable around bends. The Vantage is stable, fast and very effective – even when you unleash in excess of 500 horsepower. Overall, it offers an instinctive and sublime driving experience.
The 4.0-litre, bi-turbo V8 – a technological masterpiece in itself – is originally a Mercedes invention, but in the hands of Aston engineers it’s been transformed into something revolutionary. A redesigned exhaust system ensures minimal back pressure and produces a soundtrack that does justice to the brand’s heritage. The new wet oil sump with reduced dimensions allows the engine to fit deep into the bay behind the front axle. Unlike the AMG GT’s 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, the Aston uses a ZF-sourced 8-speed torque converter mounted on the rear axle, which means that the rear wheels bear 51% of the total weight. For the first time, an electronic differential (E-Diff) has made its way into an Aston. The on-board electronics offer three modes to determine damper settings. The braking system comprises of conventional discs as standard – carbon-ceramic brakes, however, are also available as an option. The body is built entirely from a light alloy.
- Aston Martin Vantage
Engine: 3,982cc / V8 / Bi-turbo
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic / Rear-Wheel Drive
Power: 503bhp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 685Nm @ 2,000-5,000rpm
1. Super sporty shift paddles are fixed – they’re mounted on the steering column.
2. The instrument cluster is all digital, featuring three TFT screens.
3. The centre-console is filled to the brim with buttons and controls.
4. Sport seats are part of the Sport Plus package.
5. Carbon-ceramic brakes are optional, and are supplied by Brembo.
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