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Few cars are as well-proportioned and eye-wateringly pretty as the Aston Martin Vantage. It includes all of the styling elements that made the DB9 such a success, but in a smaller frame.

The details are luxuriously effective; notice the intricate xenon lights with inner LED indicators, the cut-out vents struck through with a bone line of chrome that flows into the metal of the door, and the elegant flip-out door handles. Even the rear-view mirrors are unusual, with long, slim supports locating them in front of the side glass quarter light.

Ground clearance is good by the standards of this class

Revisions in 2012 saw a number of styling tweaks lifted from previous special edition models. The changes brought a lower front bumper with a larger air intake and splitter, new side skirts and a rear diffuser.

The Vantage uses Aston’s VH platform – a chassis of lightweight aluminium extrusions, pressings and castings bonded and riveted together similar to the method used in the Lotus Elise.

The chassis contributes only 183kg to the Aston’s kerb weight – a figure we measured at 1585kg. It’s clothed in a mixture of aluminium, steel, composite and magnesium body panels, and they make a truly spectacular suit. A surprisingly low, squat car, its proportions promote an aggressive aura even before the shape is taken into context.

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The Vantage is considerably more compact than big-brother DB9: 313mm shorter, 60mm lower and 140mm shorter in the wheelbase. The result is a definite wheel-at-each-corner stance with less overhangs – always a prime ploy for creating aggresion.

The familiar Aston grille is present on a nose that spreads out into a bluff, wide-arched front with pronounced wheel arches, before flowing tightly back into a typically Ian Callum coupe form. It then bulges back out with thick-set rear arches and a cut-off tail with fat twin tailpipes.

Aston offers the Vantage in two different flavours: a V8 S and a more potent V12 S model, with a touch more power and looks that are a touch more aggressive. The former pumps out 430bhp from its 4.7-litre V8 petrol engine, while the latter musters a mere inconsequential 565bhp from its naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 unit. The limited run GT8 and GT12 use the same engine as there road-going namesakes, but the GT8 punches out 440bhp, while the GT12 manages 591bhp.

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