When it comes to cool cars, did we expect anything less from a car that’s 007’s motor of choice?
Even in its baby size, the new Aston Martin Vantage 2018 is everything we’d want from a sports car, and it’s managed to combine the creative design and engineering talents of both British and German manufacturers.
The first of its kind in 12 years, the all-new Vantage first debuted in November 2017 and was subsequently shown off at the Geneva Motor Show in 2018 before going on sale in Hong Kong.
Designed by Range Rover veteran Marek Reichman, the Aston Martin Vantage 2018 price is justified by its look and practicality.
It may be small, but it’s effective - drawing comparisons with others such as the Mercedes AMG thanks to their shared 4.0 litre, twin turbo engines.
With the departure of the Aston Martin Vantage V12, a sad loss to those who remembered its pioneering foray into making race cars roadworthy, the newest addition is currently only available as the Aston Martin Vantage V8.
Keep your eyes peeled, however, for the Aston Martin Vantage Volante, or some other form of Aston Martin Vantage convertible.
This is all part of Aston Martin’s exciting plan for the next four years: rather ambitiously, they set themselves a goal of releasing a new Aston every year between 2016 and 2022. So far, so good!
Will they keep up with the demand? They’ve certainly got a lot of inspiration to draw upon – the V12 Vantage S, for example, was the fastest Aston Martin to have ever been released, peaking at a white-knuckle 205mph and 0 to 62mph time of 3.2 seconds.
The racing Vantage GTE, based upon the road car, is touted as the most technologically advanced Aston out there, while the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster provided a fun alternative to the coupé, and a slightly more affordable option, too.
The current Aston Martin Vantage for sale will set enthusiasts back an eye-watering £120,900, but we dare say it’s all worth it.
Invariably, it will also draw comparisons with its DB11 predecessor. When we look at the Aston Martin Vantage dimensions, we can see that the DB11 was longer – 4,739 mm compared to the Vantage’s 4,465 mm – but this was done with intent. The Vantage is meant to be cheekier, more fierce, and all round a sportier road/race car.
It’s not shy about this fact either – Aston Martin have done away with Comfort mode and replaced it with Sport, Sport + and Track. Yes, it may share the same eight-speed automatic gearbox and a shortened version of the DB11 aluminium platform, but that is where the similarities end. This is a road car. But it would be a sin to take it off the track.
Thanks to its shared V8 engine with the aforementioned Mercedes AMG C63, the Vantage offers 503 bhp and 505 lb-ft of torque, rocketing to 62mph in just 3.6 seconds.
Weight-wise, it sits nicely between its competing McLaren 540C and the Porsche 911 Turbo S, helping it to climb to its hair-raising top speeds of 195mph.
Like any racing car, you didn’t come here for fuel economy, but it claims to offer 27 to 28 MPG (on a very good day) so in reality, you can probably expect around 21 to 22, or even below 20 if you’re really giving it some welly.
Its competitors might claim to offer a little more; the McLaren 540C, for example, claims to offer 38 MPG on highways, but like any laboratory tested claim, we should probably take this with a pinch of salt.
But who cares? With a 78-litre tank, speed is of the utmost importance here. The badly-behaved Vantage isn’t exactly subtle and once again differs from the DB11 when it comes to engine roar.
This was notably turned down in the DB11, but Aston Martin have thrown caution to the wind with the Vantage – it’s loud and it’s proud.
The are very few Aston Martin Vantage problems, but if we’re being rather picky, we’d say that the driving modes are a little off-target. The new-fangled Sport, Sport+ and Track mode are a lot of fun, far more fun than the previous GT, Sport and Sport+, but in the Vantage, we’re not sure if the Track mode is perhaps too stiff for bumpier race tracks. Said mode tightens the dampers for a better grip, but it’s perhaps too secure on some road surfaces. We want to have fun with it!
As a two-seater, short race car, drivers are positioned exactly in the centre of the Vantage, which means that you really feel it when you pivot around its centre.
That’s all part of the fun. Of course, its steering is simply superb, largely thanks to the fact that the entire block sits behind the front axle line, making for a perfectly even weight distribution in the front and back.
There’s no choice when it comes to tyres, but we don’t need it – the Pirelli P Zero resist wear and tear with all the durability of a Kevlar vest. At these speeds, and with these incredible brakes, they should wear out faster – but they do not.
Track racing comes easily thanks to the manual paddles on the steering wheel – pull on them once and you’ll transfer from the eight-speed automatic gearbox to manual mode. Pull on them again, and you’re back in the game, with the automatic gears transitioning upwards without complaint.
If you are daring enough to take it out on the road, then a middle gear is best.
With a chassis made entirely of aluminium to keep it as sporty as possible, the Vantage features more pressings and castings than extrusions, which is perhaps one of the reasons for the relatively high cost. This does, however, make the Vantage more space-efficient; you won’t be taking the family camping in it but you might be able to squeeze in two small bags behind its two seats.
Aston Martin have even managed to cram 350 litres of space into the back, which is more than a Focus, but it’s not exactly efficiently designed.
We have a mixture of aluminium and plastic for the skin, and its imposing grille set against the relatively subtle front headlights almost gives off the image of a snarling mythical beast. A very fast one at that.
So we’ve got to know our way around the drive and the exterior, but how does it look and feel on the inside?
We know there are only two seats, but it’s missing something else as well – there’s no glove box. Not a huge issue in itself, but the space instead is taken up by rather a mass of buttons. While we can appreciate that this is James Bond’s car of choice, it seems superfluous to have two toggles for central locking.
All of these buttons are in lieu of a touchscreen, of course, which is a bonus when you’re driving a car with this one’s top speed.
If we’re being really fussy, then the infotainment system looks a little cheap for the price tag. There’s no high resolution to the screen, and Aston Martin have not innovated beyond the previous DB11’s virtual instruments.
Get yourself on the online Aston Martin Vantage configurator and you’ll be presented with a plethora of upgrade options.
Our personal favourite is the carbon ceramic brakes, which hold out even at high temperatures. You can also upgrade to a carbon fibre under bonnet pack, or a simple carbon fibre engine cover as well as badging on the wings, cosmetic updates to the alloys and the “Sports Plus Selection” which gives you an upgraded sport-inspired seat and steering wheel.
Some of this may be vanity for vanity’s sake – the seat is perfectly placed right where it is, and it still feels sporty enough.
However, if it is the whole package you’re looking for, then it’s got more customisation options than a sub sandwich shop.
The most alarming feature of the Aston Martin Vantage at first glance is the price. It needs to work hard to justify the £120,000 price tag, but we think it achieves this pretty well.
It oozes pure class, right from the sturdy aluminium sporty exterior through to the plush leather seats, where every detail is considered.
Certainly, it misses the mark for very minor details such as Track mode on the wrong road surface or a confusing mix of buttons, but none of this is enough to put off the racer in all of us.
Yes, it claims to be a road car, but everything about the Vantage says track, from the fuel economy to the driving modes themselves. If you must splurge, do yourself a favour and drive it like it’s meant to be driven.