From £165,0009

Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

The Vantage GT8 certainly sounds like it means business.

Specifically, if more typically modern force-fed V8s such as the Jaguar F-Type R and Mercedes-AMG GT are loud but somewhat lacking in definition and culture, the GT8 lacks for nothing.

Once warm, gearbox insists you heel-and-toe down, while the aggressive front suspension geometry makes handling positive

This is probably one of the wildest and most soulful road cars ever to combine a V8 engine with a crossplane crankshaft. It’s as if the regular V8 Vantage S had matured, come into musk and was intent on attracting a mate from the next county.

You might say the car’s extravagant and wonderful soundtrack was covering for something, of course. Although it’s a much better engine now at 4.7 litres than it used to be at 4.3, Aston’s Cologne-built V8 makes only 361lb ft.

That’s more torque than a Porsche 911 GT3 RS makes but, even in a car stripped out to the GT8’s extent, it’s still not a huge amount.

Sure enough, this isn’t the quickest-accelerating track-day sports car your £165,000 might have bought. The 4.6sec it took to hit 60mph from a standstill is a bit misleading as to its true pace, because the flywheel effect of that engine combines with a slightly weak clutch and an occasionally truculent manual gearbox to make the car difficult to launch.

But the 3.6sec taken to accelerate from 30-70mph through the gears is still 0.8sec slower than a 911 GT3 RS or a Mercedes-AMG GT S.

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Not that it seems to matter much. Buyers gravitating towards a naturally aspirated V8 at this part of the market can be expected to prize responsiveness, smoothness, breadth of range and character over outright grunt, and they get all of that here.

Aston’s perfectly square-cylindered V8 feels progressive under your foot, gaining in its forcefulness as the revs rise and only really wanting for potency below 3000rpm. Between 5000rpm and the 7500rpm red line, it sounds almost orchestral and would be strong enough to keep pace with all but the very quickest cars you’re likely to run across on road or track.

As a result, you’d be extremely reluctant to swap this engine for one with more power and torque but less sophistication and effusive charm.

What we might have changed, given the choice, is the GT8’s gearing, which is identical to that of the standard V8 Aston Martin Vantage S and would have benefited from a shorter final drive.

Bentley advertised the advantages of such with the Continental GT3-R, and had Aston followed suit here, it would have ended up gaining useful at-the-wheels torque and pace and sacrificing little.