What's the used Aston Martin Vantage coupe like?
It might only be the baby of the range, but the Aston Martin Vantage lost its milk teeth a long time ago. This extraordinarily handsome car has played a huge part in the revitalisation of the iconic British firm over the past few years, and it's more than appealing enough to bite chunks out of several of its main rivals, including the Porsche 911.
But it's not just a handsome face. Thanks to an almost even front-to-rear weight distribution and the use of lightweight materials in its construction, the Vantage is a fine-handling machine. It's stable at high speed on the motorway as well as being responsive and agile on twisty roads.
It's a fine everyday car, too, thanks to its easy-to-live-with nature. However, when you want it to go fast, it's capable of setting a blistering pace. Under the elegant bonnet there's a choice of two different engines, a V8 and a V12. The V8-engined models are hugely capable, while the V12 is a real brute - there's immense speed available there. In fact the upgraded V12 Vantage S model is terrifically fast, and a match for most supercars and hypercars.
The driving position is low-slung and the interior feels beautifully finished; the only downside is very poor side vision when pulling out of junctions. Practicality is reasonable with space for two golf bags in the boot.
As the years have gone by, Aston Martin has tweaked the Vantage and chipped away at some of its rougher edges, especially the build quality and the fit and finish. Now, it's a highly desirable used proposition, for more than just its striking looks and the noise it makes. It has an emotional appeal that some of its rivals lack, and a classy aura that separates it from the other sports cars in its class.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Aston Martin Vantage coupe?
The days of loyal Aston Martin customers being prepared to forgive the cars for their reliability problems are long gone. In the modern world, even British-built supercars have to be reliable. Happily, under Ford's ownership, Aston Martin responded to the challenge with an ever-improving reliability record. Over the last few years that reputation has grown again, although there are reports of one or two gremlins.
The V8 Vantage blotted its copybook slightly, although there has actually only been one recall, dealing with the car's failure to start and affecting cars built between 27 October 2005 and 23 May 2006. Cars either had trouble starting or refused to start altogether, but owners do report issues with the electrics, especially relating to the sat-nav and air-con. Also watch out for rust on the subframe, a potentially costly thing to set right.
Interior build quality on the Vantage is the best on any Aston, so you shouldn't experience any problems with loose trim. But check the six-speed manual gearbox and the clutch for any signs of excessive wear and tear.
What are the most common problems with a used Aston Martin Vantage coupe?
Is a used Aston Martin Vantage coupe reliable?
What used Aston Martin Vantage coupe will I get for my budget?
Prices for an early Vantage start at around £30,000, which makes it something of a supercar bargain, especially one with such a great badge. However, although this should secure you a car with an average mileage for the year and a full service history, we'd still think it's better to spend a little more. Up the ante to between £35,000 and £40,000 and you should get 2009, maybe 2010, cars in good condition, while £40,000 to £50,000 will net you a good 2011 or early 2012 model.
How much does it cost to run a Aston Martin Vantage coupe?
Everything is relative, and while a car like the Vantage could never be described as cheap to run, Aston Martin says it's comparable with a Porsche 911 in terms of servicing and maintenance costs.
True, it was priced higher than the Porsche, around £20,000 more than the entry-level 911 when it came on the market in the summer of 2005, but the difference is smaller on the used market.
Insurance is as high as it gets with a group 50 rating. Officially the V8 should manage 11.2mpg around town and 16.2mpg out on the open road, but there's fat chance of that happening; once you start pushing that beautiful aluminium throttle pedal to the floor 10-12mpg will be the harsh and expensive reality. The V12 is even worse. Annual road tax (VED) is high for all models.
And a word of warning: a heavy right foot will also make the Vantage work its way through rear tyres pretty quickly.
Which used Aston Martin Vantage coupe should I buy?
When the Vantage first went on sale there was just one engine: a 4.3-litre V8. However, while this sounded fantastic, performance was a little underwhelming. You're much better off going for the 4.7-litre V8 that replaced it in 2008, or the 5.9-litre V12 that was added to the range in 2009. You can also seek out a V8 S and a V12 S version of both cars, tweaked for even more oomph. In fact, the V12 Vantage S is, with a 0 to 62mph time of just 3.7secs, the fastest production Aston ever.
You can also choose between a six-speed manual gearbox and an automated manual that you control via steering wheel-mounted paddles, with the former very much the one to go for, because the automated manual is jerky.
Safety is decent, with side airbags, traction and stability control all standard. Equipment also includes climate control, electrically adjustable seats, a six-CD multichanger, sat-nav and parking sensors.
Our favourite Aston Martin Vantage: 4.7 V8
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What alternatives should I consider to a used Aston Martin Vantage coupe?
The Jaguar F-Type came along and took the car world by storm. It was so gorgeous to look at and so loud in its exhaust that it's always been a difficult car to ignore. Not only does it sound great, it's fantastically quick, especially in 5.0 V8 SVR mode. It undercuts the Aston on price, too, both new and used.
The Porsche 911 is an iconic sports car. It's seriously rapid and grippy, yet it's also refined and can even be comfortable. It generates lots of noise, not all of it welcome, but it's a terrific driving experience. There are plenty to choose from, and hundreds of different models, all fast and fun and surprisingly frugal.