An Aston Martin with a 4.7-litre V8 sounds exciting, doesn't it? Then how about one with a 6.0 V12? You can have either and the noise that you hear when you push the starter button sounds even better. Both are quick - but not quite as quick as you might expect.
The Vantage is a physical, manly kind of car with hefty, firm controls. But the Vantage is agile and pointy, especially the more hardcore S version, and grip is immense. The ride is firm, but forgiving enough to take the edge of bigger bumps, although the S is extremely stiff on bumpy roads.
Aston has done a great job of isolating road noise on most surfaces, and there’s little wind disturbance within UK speed limits. As for the engine sound, it's a background murmur when cruising, but crack open the throttle and a metallic timbre rises to a glorious growl that you won’t be able to resist provoking.
The Vantage is meant to be an everyday supercar, like the Porsche 911 – albeit a more exclusive one – so Aston promises maintenance bills will be similar. It costs more than a Porsche to buy, and it drinks fuel at a greater rate, however. Residual values are about the same as a 911's.
If the V8 Vantage is to succeed as an everyday supercar, buyers need to be sure it won’t let them down. Reliability seems to be ever-improving after some early issues, and most of the former switchgear from Ford (Aston's previous owner) has been gradually replaced, although the build quality isn't up to Porsche 911 standards.
It’s disappointing to find that there are no curtain airbags in the Vantage. Electronic safety aids include stability control and electronic brakeforce distribution. A Tracker system to help trace the car should it be stolen is optional rather than standard.
The grippy leather seats are powered, the steering wheel moves two ways and the front and rear windscreens afford a decent forward and rearward view. Angled junctions are another matter – you simply can’t see a thing. If you choose to load your Vantage up with optional equipment, there are lots of small, identical switches that aren’t easy to identify.
The Vantage is a two-seat hatchback. Its 300-litre boot is big enough for two sets of golf clubs, and there’s a foldaway parcel shelf. More luggage fits on a ledge behind the two seats. The cabin is snug – occupants sit well towards the centre of the car – and there’s not much space for oddments.
Leather or Alcantara upholstery, climate control, a six-CD multichanger, big alloy wheels and electrically adjustable seats come as standard. Options include premium hi-fi systemsand various interior finishes. In effect, though, you can personalise the Vantage however you want – Astons are still hand-built.
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