Aston’s decision to make the new Vantage a wider, meaner and more purposeful-looking sports car also makes it physically wider on the road — and it feels like it to drive.
You’re aware that there’s plenty of bulk to keep from straying across the white lines of a typical British B-road, and plenty of mass for the suspension to manage, too.
The steering is, thankfully, every bit the precise, predictable, weighty and feelsome instrument it needs to be to guide the car with real accuracy. Although this is a much firmer-sprung car than we’re used to from Aston, it’s still a great, soulful, unwearying tourer over distance.
Mostly, it’s the lateral stiffness of the car’s rear axle that sets it apart from its forebear’s dynamic mould. That makes for a little bit of fidget and head toss over uneven Tarmac but is also responsible for the first-rate handling precision and agility, comparable with that of its most agile opponents.
Even though you feel the car’s mass in the slightly brusque way, it deflects over bigger lumps and bumps, and the suspension’s ability to keep close vertical control of the body seems particularly sophisticated when you’re using Sport+ mode on the Skyhook dampers.
There’s very little hint of excess mass evident from the flatness and immediacy with which the Vantage corners, or the ability of the rear axle to follow quickly and neatly in the wheel tracks of the front when you want it to. Not that you will always want it to.
The Vantage offers Sport, Sport+ and Track modes for both its powertrain and suspension, and you’ll likely enjoy dabbling with Sport+ and Track on a circuit; as well as with the TrackDSC and ‘off’ settings for the stability control.
Track mode shows how great a dynamic departure this car is from its immediate forebears, because although the more sporting Astons have long been ready to indulge in big, smokey slides, they’ve never had the first-order grip or handling precision of the new Vantage, or its ability to carry speed so purposefully.
The sheer stability of the rear axle on turn-in can be breathtakingly good. In Sport+, your options are expanded to include a very lurid cornering style, should you want one.
Even here, though, the Vantage isn’t willing to be ‘backed in’ to oversteer on a trailing throttle and, once enticed to slide with power, much prefers a lot of drift angle to a little of it.