Aston uses words such as "aggressive" and "predatory" to describe the appearance of its new 4.5m-long two-seat coupé — and it overwhelmingly prefers to refer to it as a sports car rather than any kind of front-engined sporting GT.
The fact is, of course, that the new Vantage retains the long bonnet, front-mounted engine, cabin-rear silhouette and driven rear wheels that, most would agree, continue to define modern GT coupés, but its styling is a marked departure from that of the almost delicately pretty V8 Vantage that preceded it.
The new car’s large and imposing front grille typifies a design that seems to suggest this car’s creators don’t much care whether you think it’s particularly pretty. Rather, they probably do care that you notice when you’re in the new Vantage’s presence and, moreover, that you can tell that it means serious business.
The Vantage is 80mm longer, almost 80mm wider (with its door mirrors folded) and very slightly taller than the car it replaces, and its wheelbase has grown by more than 100mm. It’s built on a bonded aluminium superstructure related to the one you’ll find under a DB11 but made of 70% new metalwork, making for a car that is 30% more rigid than the DB11.
The Vantage also carries its 503bhp 4.0-litre V8 engine almost entirely behind its front axle line and uses a propeller shaft and rear-mounted transaxle eight-speed automatic gearbox, both of which distinguish it from its bigger sibling. It has a weight distribution claimed by Aston to be perfect at 50/50 front to rear. We measured it, on MIRA’s weighbridge, at 49/51.
Perhaps more telling, we also measured our test car’s overall mass at 1720kg. Aston’s claim is that, with every weight-saving option selected, the car’s dry weight may be as low as 1530kg. Even so, considering it’s competing against one or two rivals that weigh little more than 1400kg in running order, weight plainly has the potential to be a handicap for this car. We’ll see if it turns out that way.
Suspension is via double wishbones at the front wheels and a multi-link configuration at the rear that differs from what you’ll find on a DB11 primarily by its rigid mountings. Steel coil springs and Skyhook adaptive dampers cradle the car’s mass and, in a first for any Aston, a clutch-based active torque-vectoring e-diff distributes driving torque between the car’s rear wheels.