From £87,495
The new Vantage has been developed as a Porsche 911 beater, and our first taste on UK roads suggests it can live up to that bold claim

Our Verdict

Aston Martin V8 Vantage

The Aston Martin Vantage has an abundance of soul, and decent ability with it

21 March 2018

What is it?

Here we have another chance to experience a prototype version of the Aston Martin Vantage ahead of its launch, but this time on British roads rather than the frozen Lapland lake of our previous encounter.

While this isn’t a finished production car, the chance to see how it copes with rural Warwickshire was more than a sufficient excuse to take another turn.

The basics have been well detailed in our previous stories on the car. The Vantage is the second Aston to use AMG's 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, but tuning means it has a fraction more torque than the same motor in the junior DB11.

The other significant addition is the arrival of a very clever electronically controlled locking differential, a first for Aston Martin and something that the Vantage’s engineering team reckon is critical to the character of the car.

Our drive in a prototype started at Aston’s new engineering base in Wellesbourne and took in many of the local roads – including the Fosse Way – that have been used most heavily during its development.

What's it like?

The hard-worked prototype wears a ragged zebra pattern disguise and the scars of a life that’s been lived hard. The dashboard reports various functions are unavailable and the interior has the unwashed aroma that suggests many engineers have spent many hours sweating in it.

It feels tighter inside than the DB11, and not just because of the lack of rear seats, with switchgear and gear selector buttons clustered lower on the centre console. The position of the seat closer to the windscreen also means that the fat A-pillars eat more front-quarter visibility.  

Starting the engine proves that despite a high percentage of shared componentry, there’s no chance of confusing the Vantage with the DB11 V8.

It's louder and angrier from idle, with the prototype’s optional sports exhaust adding a savage rasp to revs and responding to every throttle lift with pops and crackles. It sounds more aggressive than anything else using this engine except, perhaps, the full-on Mercedes-AMG GT R

The Vantage is definitely Aston fast. The engine produces plenty of low-down grunt, but it really impresses when extended. There’s lots of drama on the way to the 7000rpm redline, with the Vantage pulling increasingly strongly over the last couple of thousand revs – the area in which most modern turbocharged units start to feel tight.

The marriage with the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, which AMG doesn’t use, is a particularly happy one as well. It's refined under gentle use but swaps cogs practically as fast as a twin-clutcher under manual control or with the powertrain in its more aggressive Sport Plus and Track modes.  

The Vantage is firmer and louder than the DB11, thanks to both chunkier chassis settings – the adaptive dampers lack a Comfort mode, with Sport their base setting – and a rear subframe that's mounted directly to the body without any insulating bushes, improving rigidity at the expense of refinement. It’s certainly not crude, but there's a fair amount of road noise evident beneath the exhaust note. Still, the car tracks impressively straight and accurately at higher speeds. 

Onto twistier roads and the steering starts to really impress. The Vantage’s rack and its ratio are identical to that of the DB11, but the car's shorter wheelbase increases the effective ratio, making responses feel much keener. There’s plenty of front-end bite, even in the damp conditions we drove the car in, with corners giving the electronically controlled differential a chance to prove how clever it is. 

The device can produce a huge 1845lb ft of locking torque almost instantly, but, unlike a conventional limited slip differential, can also fully disengage when not required. The result is outstanding traction, with the addition of some torque vectoring to sharpen responses yet none of the low-speed understeer that sticky mechanical lockers usually engender.

The engine has more than enough low-down torque to keep things interesting, especially with the stability control switched to its more permissive mode or full de-energised. But even when the Vantage is sliding, it never feels wayward or excessively lairy. Drivers are going to have a huge amount of fun in this car. 

Should I buy one?

While the Vantage impresses in isolation, even in prototype form, the comparison we’re really looking forward to is finding out how close it runs the Porsche 911, which is Aston’s avowed target.

On the basis of our early experiences, we suspect the answer is going to be 'very'.

Yet the clever differential will also throw up another dilemma for potential buyers because Aston has confirmed that it won’t be offered on the seven-speed manual car that will be launched some time after the automatic.

Even those in love with changing their own gears are likely to find that a grievous omission. All things considered, we suspect the eight-speeder will turn out to be the better all-rounder. 

Aston Martin Vantage prototype

Price £120,900 On sale tbc Engine V8, 3982cc, twin-turbo, petrol Power 503bhp at 6000-6500rpm Torque 505lb ft at 2000-5000rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 1530kg (dry) 0-62mph 3.6sec Top speed 195mph Economy 26.9mpg CO2, tax band 245g/km, 37% Rivals Porsche 911, Mercedes-AMG GT

Join the debate

Comments
13

21 March 2018

This car was parked outside our local pub a couple of weeks ago, sounds flatuent.

22 March 2018

It sounds flatuent? And what exactly is that? Is that like flatulent or more like fatuous?

23 March 2018
macboy wrote:

It sounds flatuent? And what exactly is that? Is that like flatulent or more like fatuous?

flatulent, apologies, little keys on the phone screen.

21 March 2018

Grevious omission of the clever diff on the manual? Bit of a stretch. Hardly anybody will be able to tell the difference. Of the tiny handful that will, they'll probably disagree whether they prefer an active system over a simple mechanical diff. And if they've chosen the manual in the first place, odds are more of them will lean toward that more straight forward mechanical solution over the intervention of algorithms.

21 March 2018
caboosemoose wrote:

Grevious omission of the clever diff on the manual? Bit of a stretch. Hardly anybody will be able to tell the difference. Of the tiny handful that will, they'll probably disagree whether they prefer an active system over a simple mechanical diff. And if they've chosen the manual in the first place, odds are more of them will lean toward that more straight forward mechanical solution over the intervention of algorithms.

My thoughts exactly. Clearly the majority of buyers will choose the auto.

21 March 2018

It looks like a really sad Jaguar F-Type. I just don't think I'm going to be able to get over that grille. Why did they have to make it look like Mick Jagger crying? 

21 March 2018

I saw one without the livery on it on the M6 3 weeks ago. We were all stuck for a couple of hours in stop-start traffic in the Birmingham area so got a good look of it and pictures too! Looks pretty dramatic - it was the same colour as this one in the article. I didn't get to see inside but it did have a presence on the road, certainly.

21 March 2018

looks like this is a £140k mota by the time it's specced. So it's not really a base 911 competitor is it? Motoring journalists can't afford a decent Golf let alone anything else - i used to be one - but comparing the monthlies on this compared to a 911 I'd guess it's at least 30% more. Looks lovely but as someone who can afford a 911 I've no chance on this.

22 March 2018

It's the issue with all motoring mags - they get free cars and have little understanding of value and price-points. Buying a car with £20k of options on is something few would contemplate but journalists think nothing of commenting on two cars with specs that creat a hige pricing void between them either as you say John as a monthly or outright pruchase. Test of the XC90 and Discovery did the same - comparing cars £15,000 apart in price but, because they were in the same "class" they were comparable. I've had 911s before and would contemplate an £85k-£90k car again but could not contemplate a Vantage that's potentially 50% higher (however good it is).

22 March 2018

Dear  Buyer/ Buyer mandate We currently have Available FOB Rotterdam/Hosuton for JP54,D2, D6, JetA1 with good and workable procedure, whereby buyer will dip test in seller tank with proof of product.Kindly Contact us via (anatolyvyacheslavoil@mail.ru) for SCO as soon as possible, so we can move to the next step.

RegardsAnatoly Vyacheslavemail: anatolyvyacheslavoil@mail.ru,  anatolyvyacheslavoil@yandex.ruskype:anatolyvyacheslavoil

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Suzuki Swift Sport 2018 long-term review hero front
    First Drive
    22 June 2018
    The Japanese hot hatch is all grown up in terms of character, technology and price, but is it still a fun-loving kid at heart? Let’s find out
  • 2018 Mitsubishi Shogun Sport 4
    First Drive
    21 June 2018
    Shogun Sport name returns to the UK, attached to a seven-seat 4x4 that, Mitsubishi hopes, deftly combines practicality, comfort and toughness
  • Ford Fiesta ST-Line 2018 long-term review hero front
    First Drive
    21 June 2018
    Does this version of Britain’s top-selling car have the substance to match its style?
  • Audi Q8 2018 first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    20 June 2018
    Range-topping SUV is short on the styling and performance pizzazz needed to make it a Range Rover Sport-toppling style icon, although it’s an accomplished luxury car
  • BMW M5 2018 long-term review hero front
    First Drive
    20 June 2018
    We rate the new M5 as best in class. Will we think the same after three months with it?