Better still, the steering rack has been modified to deliver much sharper responses, again the idea being to make the steering more similar in feel to that of the Vantage S.
And for those of a sufficiently modern persuasion, Aston’s new and reasonably swift seven-speed Sportshift II transmission becomes available, albeit as an option that costs an extra £5k. The standard car’s six-speed manual gearbox remains as it was before.
What’s it like?
What’s not in doubt is how sharp this latest car feels on the road. Dynamically it’s as crisp in its reactions as any rival, with lovely precise steering and a delightful lack of inertia to the chassis that allows it to be muscled along most roads with proper commitment. It also feels refreshingly small compared with most rivals, which is a good thing, while the basic level of performance on offer from the 4.7-litre V8 has never been in question since it was tuned to deliver 420bhp.
The gearchange, certainly in the manual test car that we tried, also felt unusually clean and precise in its action, albeit in an old-fashioned way beside the more modern click-click shifts of certain dual-clutch rivals. And, in a way, that’s a defining characteristic of the V8 Vantage. Although entirely modern in its engineering ethos, there’s something appealingly retro about the way this car behaves that makes it feel different from, though not necessarily superior to, its more obvious competition once on the move.
Having said that, there are some fairly glaring flaws that can’t be excused at any cost. While the Vantage’s interior retains the appropriate feel and smell of an exclusive gentlemen’s club, the dials now seem more heroically rubbish than ever in their ergonomic performance. The clutch also pongs badly if you do so much as a single three-point turn, suggesting that wear rates have failed to improve.
Worse still is the car’s ride. Although the V8 Vantage is intended to be a hairy-chested sports car even in its entry-level form, to make the standard suspension set-up this stiff may not be the wisest move on Aston Martin’s behalf – especially when there’s an even stiffer sports suspension option available.
The trade-off, however, is a level of handling precision that Aston Martin owners wouldn’t have dreamed about 10 years ago, and which has only recently become available in the most sporting models. But whether such an uncompromising arrangement is what’s required, like it or not, even in the cheapest model, only time will tell.
Should I buy one?
Mostly, the revised V8 Vantage remains a flawed but highly endearing car, one whose charms far outweigh its foibles on the road. But if the cracks grow any wider, and the competition continues to get better, those charms will be tested to their very limit. And eventually we’ll see daylight appear on the other side.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Price: £84,995; Top speed: 180mph; 0-62mph: 4.9sec; Economy: 20.5mpg (combined); CO2: 321g/km; Kerb weight: 1630kg; Engine: V8, 4735cc, petrol; Installation: Front, longitudinal, RWD; Power: 420bhp at 7300rpm; Torque: 346lb ft at 5000rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual; Fuel tank: 80 litres