Aston Martin has changed radically in the past 15 years and no vehicle epitomises that development better than the V8 Vantage, the baby of the range. It's the car that has undoubtedly played the biggest part in the brand’s revival over the past decade.

The legendary ‘V8’ tag once adorned the grand statesman of the Aston Martin range, rumbling behemoths built with tender, loving care in that evocative ramble of sheds at Newport Pagnell.

The model uses a shortened version of the aluminium VH platform – seen in its longer form on the bigger and more expensive Vanquish and DB9 – adapted to a model that is ‘mass market’ by Aston’s standards.

In a way, then, this is the toughest test yet for the construction, because the Vantage name has come to stand for aggression, compactness and driver focus.

And the latest generation has to deliver all of those in spades if it’s to keep pace with a number of outstanding rivals in this class; merely ‘being an Aston Martin’ won’t be enough against such accomplished cars as the Audi R8 and Porsche 911.

Top 5 Sports cars

  • Jaguar F-type
    It’s Britain’s most important sports car in a decade. Does the Jaguar F-type live up to the hype?

    Jaguar F-Type convertible

    1
  • Aston Martin V8 Vantage
    Aston Vantage's classic proportions are suitably timeless and desirable

    Aston Martin V8 Vantage

    2
  • The Evora uses a heavily tweaked version of Toyota's all-alloy 3.5-litre V6 engine

    Lotus Evora

    3
  • The super-coupé bargain of the decade

    Nissan GT-R

    4

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week