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The Top Gear car review: Aston Martin Vantage
For:Gorgeous but fairly subtle styling, glorious noise. The V12 option
Against:Steering judder and kickback, feels a touch heavy
Better than ever to drive, but falling behind the pack now.
That’s “N” for “Nurburgring”, and “430” for bhp. Ollie Marriage reports on the latest cosmetic upgrade from Aston
Angry Aston has excellent speed, power and handling. But it would be exhausting to use as a regular car.
AM has gone to town on the V12 S to make it the most rip-snorting, thuggish car possible. We drive it
Hardcore, 430bhp coupe swathed in trademark Aston luxury is very fast, and very good
New chassis in limited-edition Vantage results in the best-handling version yet
What we say:
The smallest 'proper' Aston, the Vantage manages to fit in full-fat Aston goodness
What is it?
Aston’s smallest sports car (the Cygnet city car can be ignored here), the Vantage is a similar size to Porsche’s iconic 911, so not quite as wide or unwieldy as larger supercars. Gently revised since launch in 2005, it remains one of the best-looking vehicles on the road – a testament to Aston’s ability to create genuinely timeless classic design. It’s not exactly a cheap option, with the basic 420bhp, 0–62mph in 4.7, 4.7-litre V8 listing at just over £90k, but you do get a sense that you’re in a ‘proper’ 180mph Aston Martin, with all the pub bragging rights that entails.
The Vantage comes in several flavours, and none disappoint. Early 4.3-litre V8 cars made a glorious noise but lacked the outright pace to really go with the urgent soundtrack, but the later 4.7 variants closed the distance between aural pleasure and actual forward motion. Not quite as precise as a 911, more overtly sporting than a contemporary Jaguar XKR, the Vantage is a nice balance between usability and go-faster thrills, with lovely steering and very neutral, easy-to- assimilate balance. The Vantage S (more power, harder suspension) is the one to go for if you really like driving fast on the road, the N24 race-spec variant if you want to do the odd track day. The ultimate is the musclebound V12: 510bhp, 0–62mph in 4.2secs, 190mph, a manual gearbox and a whole heap of smoky-tyred excitement. Roadsters (2007-on) tend to be more for pose than go, and you’ll pay about £8k extra to replace the roof with canvas
On the inside
Aston’s ability to inject a touch of theatre to an interior appears in the Vantage, with copious use of top-quality wood and metal, all arranged in a pleasingly pared- down fashion. There’s plenty of space for two adults and luggage, making the Vantage a surprisingly practical car and an honest, usable daily driver, and various upgrades to the satellite navigation and other electrical systems mean that the baby Aston feels at least on the pace with technology. It can feel a bit dark and cave-like, but you’ll forgive that every time you glance back at the car as you walk away; it really does look great.
Every new variant chips value from the previous generation, with early cars now at very reasonable money. The Vantage apparently suffered from some electrical gremlins at the start, now solved, and residual values are generally good for low-mileage, well cared-for cars. Be aware that you’re talking about an Aston, though, so group 50 insurance and 35 per cent tax on everything (CO2 figures aren’t the best, with the basic V8 being 320g/km), with equally wilting servicing costs.