Aston Martin Vantage: Room for your Beretta
Second Hand Style, with Richard Cooke.
EXCITING but uncertain times over at Aston Martin (plus ca change). The company posted a loss of £68 million for 2018, whilst balancing preparation for the launch of the DBX, their entry into the crowded luxury SUV market. Add to this the relaunch of the evocative Lagonda brand, as an all-electric offering made in Wales, and it is clear that Aston needs to keep selling traditional sports cars to the wealthy to pay for all this development. The Vantage has been on sale for a year now, and I can’t think of another supercar more deserving of your hard earned cash/pension fund assets/house equity. In fact, let’s get price out of the way now: the Vantage starts at £120,000 – but my test model had a staggering £38k of extras. I wouldn’t want to do without any of them, so the price of entry is nearer to £160k. After a year of depreciation you can take maybe £35k off that price, so get saving.
Part of what makes this car special is the covert introduction of so much technology. The engine is a bang-up-to-date 4.0 V8 from Mercedes AMG, producing 510bhp and yet returning around 25mpg in normal traffic. The limited slip differential is electronic, a first for Aston. The suspension and engine have three progressively different modes controlled from buttons on the steering wheel, ranging from relaxed (relatively speaking, it is still called ‘Sport’) to the barking, popping and fizzing ‘Track’ mode. And maybe as importantly, the Vantage looks brand new when compared to what has come before – wider, brawnier and simply more modern.
Inside, the Vantage is really very roomy. Head, elbow and legroom are all excellent. Aston have commendably not bothered to fit pointless rear seats, freeing up interior space whilst making the car shorter than a Porsche 911. It also looks, smells and feels opulent. The leather clearly came from cows, the carpets are indulgently deep, the switches bespoke. Special mention to the huge and tactile aluminium gear paddles and also the sun visors, which I’m convinced take inspiration from a pair of Gucci horsebit loafers I used to own. The boot is big enough for two suitcases, the tiny parcel shelf folds back to accommodate your diplomatic bag and there’s room under the armrest for a Beretta.
What surprises, and in a good way, is the number of buttons. Instead of relying solely on a screen with endless sub-menus, Aston has put the key controls (and that includes gear selection) on the dashboard. The idea is that in ‘progressive’ driving you can quickly jab the button you want without taking your eyes off the road. How old fashioned and yet eminently sensible – this simply must be safer than gawping at a touchscreen whilst on the move.
And move this car does – with all that power and a weight of 1.5 tons it was always going to be quick. On Cheltenham back roads around HR Owen, I was never going to be able to test the top speed of 195mph, but 0-60 in 3.6 seconds felt about right. The engine is incredible, full of torque and able to pick up effortlessly in any gear. You will never need more speed on the road. The 8 speed ZF gearbox and the ride really won me over – the former is lightning-quick when using the paddles, relaxing but still immediate when cruising around town. And in all three suspension settings the Vantage rides beautifully, with grip to spare from wide but surprisingly compliant tyres.
In summary, this car is a triumph – it looks as cutting edge as any other road car on the market, makes fine use of the best components available and goes like a dream. On the used market you can pick up a 2006 example of the previous V8 Vantage for just £25k but I’ll be amazed if the current model ever falls to such levels of affordability. That’s because the Vantage feels like a collector’s car straight from the factory, and will hopefully help fund more of the good stuff Aston still have planned.
Aston Martin Vantage: £115,000 for a 2018 model with 2k miles