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First drive: Aston Martin Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.

First drive: Aston Martin Vantage
A comprehensive overhaul for the Aston Vantage coupe hides under a subtle redesign.

   



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Aston Martin Vantage

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On the face of it, the new Aston Martin Vantage is a lightly restyled update of its predecessor, but don't be fooled by the relatively minor visual differences, as they hide significant upgrades to the chassis, engine, technology and - most importantly of all - cabin of Aston's brutish two-seat coupe. In striving to improve the Vantage to make it appeal to a wider audience of buyers, has the British company forgotten what made it so desirable in the first place? Spoiler alert: no, it hasn't.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Aston Martin Vantage Coupe
Price: expected to start at c. 165,000
Engine: twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive with electronically controlled differential
Power: 665hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 2,750-6,000rpm
Emissions: 274g/km
Economy: 23.3mpg
0-62mph: 3.5 seconds
Top speed: 202mph
Boot space: up to 346 litres
Kerb weight: from 1,605kg dry

Styling

It's not difficult to see the 'old' Vantage under the refreshed styling of the new one, especially if you approach it from the rear. The highly distinctive rear lights and diffuser design remain (praise be), though the latter has been tweaked and the four exhaust outlets are larger than before. There are also new vents on the extremities of the wider rear bumper to relieve air pressure in the wheel wells. And they add to the whole 'technical aggression' theme defining the backside of this car, too. Apparently, the new Vantage is 30mm wider than the old. That, and the addition of 21-inch forged alloy wheels as standard, enhance the stance. Not that it needed much enhancing.

From the side, little has changed, though the keen of eye may notice the restyled strakes/vents behind the front wheels and the smaller door mirror housings. The latter feature 'frameless' glass to maximise viewing area while minimising the effect on airflow.

Then we come to the main meat of the redesign, the Vantage's nose. The previously slender headlights have been replaced by larger, more technical-looking items, featuring Matrix LED technology and a similar style to those on the Aston DB12. The radiator grille opening is even larger than before, allowing for some 29 per cent more cooling air into the engine behind, while there are extra air inlets either side to create 'air curtains' around the front wheels.

The result is an appealing and muscular car as before that turns heads no matter how restrained or gaudy you've gone with the colour scheme.

Interior

The discreetly altered exterior of the Vantage might not prepare you for the wholesale change awaiting you inside, as this is where it's most obviously a new car. Aston has ported over the impressive new digital architecture first seen on the DB12 (and subsequently on the DBX707). This means a customisable high-res screen for the instrumentation in front of the driver and a 10.25-inch touchscreen in the middle of the car, too. The software is intuitive to use, and it's packed with functionality and connectivity features, though the icons and 'buttons' on the screen can be a little small.

Nonetheless, it's a paradigm shift from what went before and it now stands up to comparison with other cars' systems at this price level. All this is good news of course, and it removes a barrier to entry for buyers used to high-tech cabins, but cleverly, Aston has mixed the modern layout with proper physical controls for the air conditioning, stereo and driving modes. Not only that, but it's some of the most tactile switchgear fitted to any car at any price.

On the subject of which, the base price is only a starting point, and there's a vast amount of personalisation available to the buyer. We particularly like the carbon-fibre 'Performance' seat upgrade and the option to add carbon-fibre trim inlays, subtly tinted in a range of colours.

Practicality

This is a two-seat sports coupe rather than a GT car, so the Vantage isn't expected to be particularly practical - and nor is it. The boot accommodates 235 litres of luggage, though that can be upped to a more useful 346 litres by removing the load divider and parcel shelf. In the cabin itself there are cupholders in the centre console ahead of a shallow, covered storage area, small door pockets and a small glovebox. There's also a little space on a shelf behind the seats. Pack light, would be our suggestion.

Performance

It would be easy to assume that this is the most important aspect of this review, given Aston's engineers have managed to up the AMG V8's power and torque by 30- and 15 per cent, respectively. Peak outputs are now a heady 665hp at a rousing 6,000rpm backed up by a stonking 800Nm of torque available between 2,750- and 6,000rpm. A 0-62mph time of 3.5 seconds can't convey how brawny this engine feels in the midrange, though the fact that the car can exceed 200mph clearly illustrates its pace.

The availability of more cooling air - and a completely redesigned cooling system - has allowed Aston to increase the size of the turbos and make other tweaks to the engine to delivery its astounding performance. In fact, it claims that it can be driven flat-out on track with full performance on tap at a higher ambient temperature than before. It certainly didn't feel lacking in our afternoon on a warm Monteblanco circuit in sunny Spain.

And the twin-turbocharged unit sounds as menacingly muscular as ever, with a determined edge to the exhaust at normal speeds rising to a demented GT racer note as you home in on the red line. There's a separate button for the exhaust system so you can have it in loud or slightly-less-loud settings, regardless of the driving mode.

Finally, a ZF-made, eight-speed automatic gearbox is mounted at the back of the Vantage, sending power - via an electronically controlled differential - to the rear wheels. The transmission can be left to its own devices, or you can override it by using the tactile, metal gearchange paddles attached to the back of the steering wheel. There's also a button on the centre console to actively select manual operation, in which case it won't change up for you, even if you bounce the engine off its limiter. Of this we approve.

Ride & Handling

As far as Aston Martin is concerned, this is the key section of any review of the Vantage. Despite the car's considerable increase in performance, the engineering team was just as focused on driver involvement, delivering the tagline "Engineered for Real Drivers". And from the off it's clear that this is a car its owners will look for excuses to drive. Even at normal road speeds it's a delight, thanks to well-weighted, communicative driving controls and an overall sense of directness.

True, even in the default Sport driving mode, the Vantage's suspension is best described as 'firm', but the sophisticated Bilstein DTX adaptive dampers ensure it's not completely unyielding and a stint on the motorway revealed that it's perfectly fine in that environment - though perhaps a good time to explore the excellent Bowers & Wilkins sound system to disguise the tyre roar coming from the Michelin Pilot Sport S 5s.

Anyway, don't buy a Vantage if you're going to confine it to boring driving, as this is a car to be driven. Really driven. To that end, Aston has stiffened up the structure and the mounting points of the suspension and uses a 'non-isolated' steering column to bring the driver closer to what's going on underneath. It is a deliciously direct system full of feel and, though the car has a relatively short wheelbase and could tend to be twitchy, there's 50:50 weight distribution so it's quite easy to play with it at and over the limit of grip. The chassis telegraphs weight transfer and loss of traction to the driver well, too, making it an easy car to gain confidence in.

The Vantage is optimised for road use, but it's still a hoot at the limit on a proper racetrack. There, the Sport Plus and even more extreme Track driving mode make a lot of sense - the latter in particular is a little too hardcore for use on most public roads. There's an Individual option, too, allowing the driver to choose their favourite group of settings, plus a Wet mode, which is self-explanatory.

Behind all this is the latest generation of electronic driver assistance, from the stability control to a '6D' accelerometer that feeds into the sophisticated vehicle dynamics control system. It's cutting-edge stuff, but it doesn't detract from the experience in the least. Indeed, it ensures that the Vantage's performance is accessible to a wide cross-section of driver abilities.

This is done without sanitising the experience so much that really keen drivers aren't interested. At the centre of this is the new stability control system (or ESP as Aston calls it for Electronic Stability Programme). The driver can customise how this works depending on how experienced they are or according to conditions. By default, it's turned on of course. A quick press of the ESP button initiates the looser Track ESP setting, which still provides a safety net but allows the driver to broach the limits. Hold that button down for a few seconds and ESP is switched off, but then the rotary controller - usually used to select from the driving modes - can be twisted to alter the required level of traction control. Until ESP is turned back on, the rotary dial is locked into this function and so it's really easy to alter the amount of intervention at any moment. For example, on a fast track, a driver may want some level of assistance for most of the lap, but then leeway for a little smoky-tyred showboating in the tighter corners. The Vantage is happy to oblige.

Value

At an expected starting price in and around the 165,000 mark, the new Vantage is quite a bit more expensive than the old, though that's hardly any surprise given the extent of the updates. Aston is clearly going after bigger fish with this car, potentially vying for the attention of buyers that may also have the Ferrari Roma and Porsche 911 Turbo S on their shortlist. It certainly warrants their consideration.

Verdict

Many will underestimate how new the new Aston Martin Vantage is, but then again, in improving every aspect of the car, the British company hasn't forgotten its core remit, and it is still, at heart, a desirable, hairy-chested sports car with a surfeit of power and performance to keep its driver interested. Now it just so happens to have a great interior and a contemporary electronic architecture to go with it, so more people than ever can enjoy such a focused sports car.



Shane O' Donoghue - 13 May 2024



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2024 Aston Martin Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2024 Aston Martin Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2024 Aston Martin Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2024 Aston Martin Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2024 Aston Martin Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.

2024 Aston Martin Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2024 Aston Martin Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2024 Aston Martin Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2024 Aston Martin Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.2024 Aston Martin Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.








 

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