Test driving the Aston Martin Vantage
PUBLISHED: 14:32 14 May 2019
Thousand Word Media Ltd 07775556610
For seven decades, the Vantage nameplate has been worn by some of the world's most iconic cars. Meet the new incarnation ascending to the Aston Martin throne
Take it up to that Kia in front and put it right up on its bonnet," says Steve Tomkins, Aston Martin's track driver tasked with putting me and this four-litre, twin-turbo V8 of a beast through its paces.
The new Vantage is spectacular. Athletic, muscular, agile and aggressive, the 510 horses under its clamshell bonnet take you from 0-60mph in a seat-shifting 3.5 seconds.
And with formidable power-to-weight and weight-to-torque ratios, it's the first Aston to be fitted with an E-Diff - which means it'll keep you firmly on the road. Even if you're flying up from Deerhurst towards the A38 with an ambling Kia Sportage taking in the scenery in front of you.
"Go on," Steve says. "Hit the brake and hold down the left-hand paddle. And then accelerate again and see what it does."
What this adaptive shift does is immediately brings the car down through the gears and optimises the eight-speed transmission, meaning the moment your right foot goes down again, you're ready to go and it roars out of the corner. The Kia was easily disposed of.
It's a Friday feeling car - the kind of car to put a smile on your face that you can't wipe off, even if you have just parted with the £158,000 book price for this particular model.
With a top speed of 195mph, dazzling aerodynamic performance was central to the new Vantage design concept.
And it drives as aggressively as it looks thanks in part to a front splitter which directs airflow underneath the car, where a system of fences channels cooling air just where it's needed.
It also means the rear diffuser is fed with clean airflow.
Together with the new side gills, which have been integrated into the body surface and bleed air pressure out from the front wheel arches, there's a lot of downforce, which means your specially-developed P Zero Pirellis are staying right where you want them on the Tarmac.
There's a lower driving position in the luxe cockpit - think keyless start-stop, 8in LCD screen, integrated sat nav, iPhone playback, park assist and all the other bells and whistles - which means more headroom and better connection with the road, a kind of cocoon-like feeling.
Boot space is 350l of reasonable - there's still room for your golf clubs and ultra-slim LED lights create an unmistakeable graphic.
The engine is set low and back, for optimal centre-of-gravity and perfect 50:50 weight distribution.
And with the aforementioned E-Diff linked to the car's electronic stability control system, which can understand the car's behaviour and tips power to the relevant wheel, it makes the car feel pretty composed whether you're straight-lining or throwing it around hairpin Cotswold bends - whatever the weather.
There's a choice of Sport, Sport Plus and Track modes - the latter for when you reallly want to annoy the neighbours, says Steve, laughing.
With the latest-generation Adaptive Damping System with Skyhook technology, it's a genuinely smooth ride in Sport.
Flick it up into Sport Plus and gear changes become faster, punchier and more aggressive.
In Track mode? Well, with your foot barely tickling the throttle, the V8 sounds like God clearing his throat. Hit the brake, and the pops are irresistible, addictive.
The Vantage has heart, and soul. It's part of Aston Martin President CEO Andy Palmer's seven cars in seven years vision and is the second model in the roll-out, following the launch of the DB11 grand tourer last year.
"It speaks volumes for the outgoing Vantage that it's the single most successful model in Aston Martin's history," says Dr Palmer. "Creating a worthy successor has been a challenge to relish and a huge source of motivation.
"I'm enormously excited by what we've created: a new Vantage that's more explicit in looks and intent, wrapping heart-pounding performance and dazzling dynamics into an everyday usable package.
"A true sports car with a sharper look and keener dynamic edge, the new Vantage is the Aston Martin pure driving machine enthusiasts have been waiting for."
- Maximum speed 195mph; 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds
- Electronic Rear Differential - the first time ever on an Aston Martin
- E-Diff and Dynamic Torque Vectoring linked to Dynamic Stability Control System
- Latest generation Adapative Damping System with Skyhook
- Speed-dependent electric power steering with 2.4 turns lock-to-lock
- Urban 19.9mpg; extra urban 35.3mpg; combined 27.4mpg
- From £120,900 in the UK