Much as the uninformed may be tempted towards faintly jingoistic comments about the idea of a sports car as British as an Aston using a German engine, we need hardly acknowledge here that the firm has been fitting V12s built in Cologne to the better part of its model range for nearly two decades now.
But does the Vantage’s Mercedes-AMG V8 have the richness, character and strength Gaydon is looking for to turn the cheapest Aston into a car that could persuade someone out of an Audi R8, Porsche 911 Turbo or McLaren 540C?
The cars at the very quickest end of the Vantage’s competitor set now offer outright acceleration that wouldn’t shame a modern supercar. Several are capable of hitting 60mph from rest in quite a lot less than 3.5 seconds, 100mph in around seven seconds and a standing quarter mile in little more than 11 seconds.
And although the Vantage gets a lot nearer to those competitive benchmarks than its predecessor would have, the fact that it missed all three by fairly significant margins on a dry test day is your first clue that it’s offering a particular compromise compared with its quickest rivals; a touch less outright pace traded for a touch more combustive character and drama, and an ability to enrich everyday miles and speeds in a way that its opponents can’t.
Which isn’t intended to suggest that this car doesn’t feel very fast in subjective terms. The torque of that turbo V8 shoulders the car’s mass easily, so the Vantage feels instantly and accessibly fast in a way the old V8 Vantage never did. The car needs less than five seconds to get from 30mph to 70mph in fourth gear and it’s quicker in that respect than the last Mercedes-AMG GT S we tested (2015), a current R8 V10 Plus and a 911 Turbo S (2013).
The Vantage’s engine is loud but sounds predictably great in all sorts of dimensions; epic at high revs, operatic through the mid-range and soulful and interesting at low speeds under load. It suits a modern sporting GT car almost perfectly.
The Vantage’s gearbox mixes smoothness with responsiveness in a way that’s equally befitting of a daily driven sports car. In D, it’s rarely out of step with your intentions and keeps up with your input very well, even during full-blooded track driving.
The iron brakes, meanwhile, have strong outright stopping power and work through a well-metered, progressive pedal, resisting fade well.