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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

Three years ago, when the Aston Martin Vantage switched from atmospheric aspiration to turbochargers, the resulting improvement made to the car’s real-world, roll-on performance made a big impression on us. Now, of course, we’re well used to the idea of an entry-level Aston that eats Lotuses and junior Porsches like finger food.

While the F1 Edition does much the same, it doesn’t actually do it with much greater appetite than the regular Vantage, though. But that was entirely the point of the boss’s particular brief for this car: big firepower gains were ruled out from minute one.

Despite some carefully adjusted tyre pressures and close adherence to the operating instructions of Aston Martin’s launch control system, our test car actually struggled to improve much on the off-the-line acceleration of the regular Vantage. A 3.5sec 0-60mph claim is made for the F1 Edition (the same as for the regular model). Back in 2018, that wasn't made to look very achieveable by the regular Vantage, which need 3.7sec for the sprint in near-ideal conditions. With the F1 Edition we missed the same mark by only one tenth of a second, as the launch-control programme struggled a little to deal out enough torque to over-rotate the real wheels just so. It wasn’t until well beyond 100mph, in fact, that the Vantage F1 Edition proved meaningfully quicker against the clock than the regular model on which it’s based in terms of standing-start pace.

However, break down the car’s performance into more detail, take away the influence of those bigger rear tyres and slightly bogged-down launch, and you can begin to see where the car’s extra power and torque show. Through many 20mph increments of in-gear acceleration between 60mph and 120mph in fourth gear and above, it improved on the times of the regular Vantage by a tenth of a second, and in some cases by two tenths. The car’s aero kit seems to take a small toll on its acceleration above 120mph, but you wouldn’t know it from the driver’s seat. Extra downforce or not, this is a car that always seems to have every bit as much performance as it can put down, just as a fast Aston Martin probably should.

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The V8 engine isn’t exactly an operatic virtuoso, but it’s got effusive audible charm and likeability – and being so genuine to listen to, rather than digitally enhanced in any way as it is by Mercedes-AMG itself, adds much to the appeal.

The transaxle automatic gearbox feels just a little better suited to a fast cruise than being punted around town (when it can occasionally engage the lower ratios a little ham-fistedly), or when being hustled around a track. Aston Martin’s bid to refine the shift quality has had mixed success: upshifts come quickly and cleanly, but downshifts can be just slow and slurry enough to suggest that controlling the transmission’s input speed through that long propshaft can be a challenge.