Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster review
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster is the drop-top version of Aston's entry-level sports car
Launched in 2007, the V8 Vantage was designed to take on the might of the Porsche 911. It might not have the technical abilities of the Porsche, but the V8 Vantage is still thrilling to drive and oozes desireability - even more so it Roadster form. Power comes from a 420bhp 4.7-litre V8 which sounds sensational with the roof folded down, and there' a choice of seven-speed automatic of a six-speed manual gearbox. To make the package even more competative Aston Martin has lowered the price by over £5,000 at the same time as sharpening the looks and handling.
Our choice: Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster
Five years on and the V8 Vantage Roadster is still on the most evocative shapes on the road. Although based on the same platform as the DB9, it's more compact dimensions give it elegance and aggression all at the same time. Interior quality is superb, with leather and chunky aluminium switchgear creating a real sense of occasion. Most recent updates include a lower front splitter and rear diffuser taken from the Vantage S and more pronounced side sills.
With 420bhp from its 4.7-litre V8 it can cover 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and hit a top-speed of 180mph. With the roof down, the wind rushing past and the blare from the exhausts driving this car is never dull. The steering is heavy but has plenty of feedback, while the suspension is firm but controls the body brilliantly is fast corners - a sports suspension pack is offered, but not recommended, unless you intend to use the car on track. The snappy six-speed manual gearbox suits the car well, but most will go for the seven-speed Sportshift automated manual. To improve the performance further, recent updates include a faster steering rack, bigger brakes and wider tyres.
Reliability of Aston Martins has improved significantly in recent years. There has only ever been one recall for cars built in a six-month period during 2007 - it concerned a bolt in the front suspension which was at risk of cracking. A set of tyres is likely to last 20,000 miles and a clutch should last for 40,000 miles without needing to be replaced.
There are no rear seats, but there is a useful storage area behind the drive and passenger as well as a 144-litre boot - that's less than half the size of the coupe due to the space the folding fabric roof takes up. The roof folds back automatically in 18 seconds, and up to speeds of 30mph. Inside the cabin, the hopeless Volvo-sourced sat-nav has been replaced with a much-improved Garmin unit, but the fiddly air-con and stereo controls are beginning to show their age.
Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of 21.9mpg and 299g/km put the Aston in the highest-possible tax bracket - so it won't be cheap to run - and in the real world fuel consumption will average out below the claimed economy figures. Expect to pay around £800 for a routine 10,000-mile service.