Aston Martin has pulled the wraps of their new (V8) Vantage, the successor to the 2005 Vantage which was their most successful model to date. Now powered by an AMG engine instead of an in-house motor, the new car is the second model to debut under their revised product roadmap following the DB11.
In many ways, the Vantage is the much more important car for the company. Not only do they intend to move many more units compared to their larger Gran Tourers, but the Vantage also signals the way forward in terms of brand identity that should bleed into the further 7 or so models it plans to release (or at least unveil) within the next 7 years.
It certainly looks a lot more hardcore from the get-go over the car it officially replaces. Where before it boasted elegant lines with just a hint of real aggression, this car lays its intentions bare with its gaping front grille that’s only stopped from scraping the tarmac by a chin splitter that's the start point to its flat underbody.
Surprisingly, it’s styled even more boldly than the DB10 that was built specifically to feature in the most recent James Bond film, Spectre, despite that car having far fewer design constraints. Nonetheless, it’s plain that the DB10 did have a significant influence on the exterior of this new Vantage.
Around back, the single-piece light strip is a very elegant touch, but we’d need time to adjust to that gloss black flourish that wraps around the rear diffuser and exhaust pipes. From certain angles, it looks especially fussy and a little too….TVR.
Coming as no surprise, the new Vantage ditches the brand’s own engines for one that’s already being used in the Mercedes-AMG GT thanks to a technical partnership inked in 2015 between Aston Martin and Benz’s parent company, Daimler, having already been deployed earlier this year as a supplementary engine option on the larger DB11.
While Aston Martin have not made any mechanical modifications to the M178 before slotting it into new Vantage, the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 operates using custom engine management software tuned by the British automaker.
It’s no secret that much of the Vantage’s development was centred around the new AMG engine, but Aston Martin was able to package it more easily thanks to its inboard ‘hot-V’ turbocharger design and 90-degree cylinder bank arrangement. Like the DB11, the bonnet that hides it uses a clamshell design, giving it a much cleaner look from the front free of shut lines.
The V8 produces 380kW at 6,000rpm and 685Nm between 2,000-5,000rpm, which is a small torque increase over the DB11. Being in lighter car, weighing in with a dry weight of 1,530kg, it enables the Vantage to sprint to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds and on to a top speed beyond 310km/h. Drive is sent to the rear wheels using Aston Martin’s first implementation of a Electronic Rear Differential after being funnelled through a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission.
Supposedly, there are also future plans to squeeze in the 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 in there too, but unlike the original V12 Vantage, Aston Martin would presumably not have to employ quite so many creative workarounds to make that happen after considering this as a possibility from the start.
As standard, the Vantage runs on 20-inch wheels that wear Pirelli P Zero tyres developed specifically to play into the Vantage’s handling characteristics. There are double-wishbones upfront while a multi-link setup is used at the rear, aided by Aston’s latest generation of adaptive Skyhook dampers all-round.
The interior is perhaps where the departure from norms are most evidently presented. Almost no vestige of the brand’s previous interior design language remains. It definitely does exude a driver-oriented focus while, according to Aston Martin themselves, projecting an “analogue” feel with its array of physical buttons and knobs. Trim-wise, there’s visible carbon fibre, brushed aluminium, coloured leather, and Alcantara, with the mix of contrasting shades and hues and textures surely definable by the whim of the buyer.
There’s also an 8-inch infotainment screen nested above the central climate control vents. It’s clearly similar tech to the COMAND system used in Mercedes-Benz/AMG cars, even using the rotary dial and touchpad combo along the centre tunnel. In fact, the whole interior is much more ‘AMG’ than anything we’ve yet seen from Aston Martin. But perhaps that’s a good thing.
Aston Martin President Chief Executive Officer, Dr Andy Palmer said: “It speaks volumes for the outgoing Vantage that it is the single most successful model in Aston Martin’s history. Creating a worthy successor has been a challenge to relish and a huge source of motivation,”
“I’m enormously excited by what we’ve created: a new Vantage that’s more explicit in looks and intent, wrapping heart-pounding performance and dazzling dynamics into an everyday usable package. A true sports car with a sharper look and a keener dynamic edge, the new Vantage is the Aston Martin pure driving machine enthusiasts have been waiting for.”
The all-new Vantage is due to reach customer hands in Q2 2018 beginning in Europe and North America with prices expected to start at 154,000 Euros (or approximately AUD$239,000).