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Steering, suspension and comfort

For something based on a car that has been on sale for more than a decade, the Vantage GT8 sets a remarkably high dynamic standard here.

In one way, its age works in its favour. Were it brand new, it would probably have electromechanical steering. But its hydraulic steering is instead quite brilliantly feelsome, wonderfully weighty and honest to a fault.

You learn to be quite disciplined and smooth as you feed off the steering angle coming off a slide, because the GT8’s front end is very positive. But learn that much and the car drifts beautifully

Neither does it have much truck with the current vogue for darting directness. There are 2.7 turns between locks, which grants the mechanical advantage to allow Aston to filter through so much contact patch feel without worrying about excessive weight and has also allowed it to be aggressive with the GT8’s front wheel angles without too much fear of steering kickback.

On the road, the GT8 doesn’t ride like a Aston Martin DB11, and nor should it. Aston’s stiffened tune leaves some room for compliance, though, and feels stiffer of damper than of spring, making the suspension work better over bumps as your pace increases.

Overall, the GT8 feels more absorptive, and more suited to road driving, than plenty of comparable sports cars with less talent on a circuit, such as the GT S and Audi R8 V10 Plus.

When you want to use the car as a grand tourer, you have little reason to question its suitability – provided you remember your earplugs.

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On the circuit, meanwhile, grip and high-speed stability are both of the first order, and cornering balance, chassis communicativity and limit handling are exceptional.

Here, the GT8 feels like a car whose powertrain is content to take a back seat and give top billing to a stellar front-engined chassis of the old school, one that’s bristling with feedback, perfectly predictable, crystal clear in its messages and tenderly throttle adjustable.

Those passive shocks make for damping authority in which you can have huge confidence, dealing with mid-corner bumps without any disruption to traction or cornering line.

The GT8 needed a little persuasion and plenty of commitment from its driver to give its best on MIRA’s Dunlop circuit.

Its Cup tyres take a few laps to warm up. Only when they do, and you’re pushing hard, will they give the car the perfect handling balance you crave. They’re also quite particular about tyre pressure. You have to invest plenty for your reward, in other words.

The car’s manual gearbox likes a heel-and-toe downshift, particularly when you need to row all the way down to second gear — which is another reason you need to be on your mettle to bring the best out of the car.

But ultimately, the car’s gradual swell of torque is matched brilliantly to a chassis that takes attitude very progressively when cornering hard under power, and a steering set-up that tells you clearly how much harder the front tyres can be made to work.