Aston Martin V8 Vantage review
The best Aston Martin in the range ticks all the right boxes, offering a real rival to the Porsche 911
Aside from the Cygnet city car, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage is the entry point to Aston's luxury sports car range. It's been on sale since 2006, but it still looks great, and constant revisions and updates mean the V8 Vantage is still able to compete against rivals such as the Maserati GranCoupe and Porsche 911. The latest model has a 4.7-litre V8 that makes 420bhp, and it's offered with a six-speed manual or Sportshift automatic, although the latter takes the edge off the driving experience. If you want a luxury GT for two that makes you feel a million dollars every time you drive it, then the British-built V8 Vantage is an excellent choice.
Our choice: Aston Martin V8 Vantage
No current Aston wants for glamour but some are better resolved than others, and the V8 Vantage is the best of the lot. Its compact, pert shape makes the most of the modern Aston Martin design DNA laid out by former designers Ian Callum and Henrik Fisker, and the V8 Vantage still looks fresh thanks to a series of annual revisions.
The V8 Vantage is incredibly entertaining. Over smooth surfaces, it sweeps around corners effortlessly, the chassis proving superbly balanced – something enhanced in 2008 with stiffer front and rear springs, plus Bilstein dampers to improve the ride. There's still the usual vague-feeling from the rear end, but it's not as prononced as in the DB9 and DBS. If only the weighty steering had more feel, the Aston would challenge the Porsche 911. Nevertheless, it’s still an involving driver’s car.
As standard you get driver, passenger and side airbags, a traction control system, plus the knowledge that you're sitting in a super stiff structure. As for the environment, forget it. Those dire CO2 emissions mean it's unlikely any members of Greenpeace will be tapping you up on Facebook.
Simply opening the door is an experience to savour – it swings out and up on gas struts, revealing expensive materials, gorgeous lighting and an excellent seating position. There's a DBS-style centre console, and the last set of revisions got rid of most of the FOrd switchgear, although what's left doesn't detract from the air of sophistication. The Vantage is a strict two-seater, but the hatchback rear end ensures it’s almost as practical as more mainstream models.
You don't buy an Aston Martin to save money, but the V8 Vantage is not quite as frighteningly expensive to run as the V12 versions. Compact dimensions and a reasonably lightweight body mean economy comes surprisingly close to the 20.4mpg official average. However, sky-high emissions figures mean there's no escaping a steep annual road tax bill, and servicing is pricey, too. You'll need to put aside at least £800 for each 10,000 mile check-over. Residuals have softened of late, but the V8 Vantage is still a much in-demand car, so it should hang on to its value better than most models in the range.