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Driven: Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage. Image by Stuart Price.

Driven: Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage
We've driven the first of just seven examples of the hardcore AMR Pro Vantage that will ever be made.

 



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Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage

5 5 5 5 5

Expensive limited editions are part and parcel of Aston Martin's recent success story, but while many will be squirreled away in a private collection, virtually wrapped in cotton wool, the AMR Pro cars are designed to be driven by their well-heeled owners. The first vehicle of the new hardcore brand is the AMR Pro Vantage, and we've had the privilege of testing it on track.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage
Price: approx. 1 million
Engine: 4.7-litre V8 petrol
Transmission: seven-speed paddle-shift automatic, rear-wheel drive, limited slip differential
Body style: two-seat coupe
Top speed: 186mph
0-62mph: 4.0 seconds
Power: 516hp at 7,250rpm
Torque: 562Nm at 6,000rpm
Kerb weight: 1,465kg
Power-to-weight ratio: 346.7hp/tonne

What's this?

This is the Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage, the first car to be released under the AMR Pro brand. Just seven examples are being produced, each sold for approximately 1 million. If that initially sounds steep, even for an exclusive limited edition, it should be noted that this car has a lot in common with the V8 Vantage GTE racer - the car that won the GTE-Pro class at the Le Mans 24 Hours in its last year of competition. So, the AMR Pro uses the racer's adjustable rear wing and lightweight carbon fibre bonnet, though it gets a unique and aggressive new front grille and other bodywork from the Vantage GT8 road car, plus bespoke 19-inch alloy wheels with centre locks wearing Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tyres. Some will wonder why, given it's a track-only car, it hasn't got slick tyres as standard.

Under the bonnet is a heavily revised 4.7-litre V8 petrol engine that is optimised for high-speed track work and it's bolted to Aston's seven-speed Speedshift 'automated manual' gearbox with paddles behind the steering wheel for manual changing. Naturally, power goes to the rear wheels, via a limited slip differential, and there's three-mode traction control.

The interior, rather surprisingly, initially looks unchanged from that of the GT8 Vantage, with its lime green accents and even an infotainment screen, but there are detail changes, including 'Dark Knight' Alcantara and two lightweight bucket seats. Buyers can fit six-point race harnesses if they wish and all examples will feature an exquisite custom roll cage designed by 'Q by Aston Martin'.

Those that were expecting a bare-bones race cabin to complement the exterior appearance need to know that Aston wanted this car to be a brilliant track toy, but one that doesn't require a FIA Super Licence to drive fast on the circuit. Hence the creature comforts and familiar controls.

How does it drive?

If the interior lulls you into thinking that the AMR Pro is just a regular Vantage in racer garb, you'll soon be snapped out of it when you start up the engine. It is seriously loud, despite the presence of two (admittedly high-flow) catalytic converters in the GT8-sourced titanium exhaust. Its idle is lumpy too, due to the aggressive profile of the camshafts and the engine's calibration, but the automatic transmission makes it a cinch to ease out into the pit lane.

Once free of the speed limit, it's time to give the car its head. Two things immediately become apparent. First, the gearbox isn't as rifle-bolt-quick as you'd expect, instead requiring a momentary lift of the throttle between gears to aid smoothness and speed. Second: the engine has a ferocious appetite for revs and it screams its way around the tachometer urging you to push it harder and harder. The AMR Pro is about 180kg lighter than a regular V8 Vantage, which helps that acceleration, obviously, but also how the car reacts to input. The steering is free of slack and deliciously direct and the nose points wherever you want it whenever you want it.

The brakes repeatedly haul the car down from big speeds, lap after lap, and the brake pedal feels spot on in terms of modulation. What's more, you can trail brake into a corner with confidence as the AMR Pro is exceptionally stable. That's no doubt partly to do with the rather obvious aerodynamic appendages endowing it with actual downforce, something that is really appreciated on long open corners, where you realise you can carry much more speed than you'd have thought possible.

It doesn't take long to get into the groove in the AMR Pro, but it'll no doubt take a lot longer to perfect driving it. That is a really appealing facet of the car; after all, you don't want the owners to get bored of it in a hurry. We had 20 laps at the wheel in Snetterton and would have been quite happy to have done 200 more.

Verdict

There are countless track-only playthings available to the automotive connoisseur with a bit of cash to spend and many of them are exceptionally talented machines that require their drivers to up their game to minimise lap times. The Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage isn't quite the same. It is instead a highly accomplished and exciting track car that can be driven all day in comfort, engaging its driver in the process rather than putting up with the driver as an accessory. It's also rather beautiful and a fitting farewell to Aston Martin's most successful racer of all time. I salute the lucky seven that have secured ownership and pray that they actually drive the cars.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

0 0 0 0 0 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 9 Mar 2018









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2017 Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2017 Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2017 Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2017 Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2017 Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.

2017 Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2017 Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2017 Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2017 Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2017 Aston Martin AMR Pro Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.








 

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