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

  • Porsche 911
    The 991 generation of Porsche 911 was launched in 2012

    Porsche 911

    1
  • Mid-life revisions keep the Audi R8 at the top of its game

    Audi R8

    2
  • The Jag XK is equally capable of crossing continents or shredding its tyres on track

    Jaguar XK

    3
  • Aston Vantage's classic proportions are suitably timeless and desirable

    Aston Martin V8 Vantage

    4
  • The Evora uses a heavily tweaked version of Toyota's all-alloy 3.5-litre V6 engine

    Lotus Evora

    5

First drives

Videos

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Aston Martin range

Driven this week

  • Car review
    6 July 2015
    Ariel's third model takes the all-terrain car to another level. It's one of the best driving experiences we've ever had
  • First Drive
    3 July 2015
    Charming four-door city car gets Smart's new six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, in a bid to make the Forfour more versatile
  • First Drive
    2 July 2015
    First UK drive in the latest-generation MX-5 reveals an iconic roadster that's back to its best
  • First Drive
    2 July 2015
    Extra firepower and pared-down kerb weight conjure even greater brilliance from the Boxster's chassis. Pricey – but superb to drive
  • First Drive
    1 July 2015
    There's another BMW 2 Series variant on the horizon; we drive a late-stage prototype plug-in hybrid Active Tourer