Aston Martin Vantage GT8 2016 review

Ultra-exclusive, track-inspired Aston Martin Vantage GT8 sports car wings in

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

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On paper, you’d have to say that the £165,000 Aston Martin Vantage GT8 represents pretty poor value for money next to the much cheaper yet almost as potent regular V8 S. But in reality, it is a completely different animal. The lightweight tweaks and optional titanium exhaust transform the ageing Aston into an utterly intoxicating machine. In fact, it’s one of the most alluring sports cars money can buy, and certainly one of the best looking.

Just one look at the new Aston Martin Vantage GT8 is all it takes to be hooked. The moment you set eyes on this track-bred, road-burning monster of a car, will draw you in enough to turn it into a long-lasting gaze of bewildered amazement.

You'll notice the GT8's massive rear wing first. It's fashioned from carbon fibre, just like the chunky front splitter, door sills and roof. However, some of the lightweight materials on this particular car are optional (like the plastic rear window and that wing), which seems a little cheeky when Aston Martin is charging a whopping £165,000 for it.

That price take makes the GT8 around £70,000 more expensive to buy than a regular V8 Vantage S, despite it boasting just 10bhp more from its lightly fettled 4.7-litre V8.

On paper, this car could even come across as something of a cynical marketing exercise from Aston Martin. Production is limited to 150 cars, and every single one is apparently sold out.

• Aston Martin V12 Vantage S review

The method behind Aston’s madness is that if you limit the numbers, the residuals will inevitably increase. This, in turn, ensures that certain types of customer will always buy these cars, no matter what they’re like to drive and how ludicrously priced they are. Either way, the moment you set your eyes on this car, all these cynical ideas go out the window.

Start it up, and the ground shakes, your eardrums begin to oscillate and your heart starts to melt. As for what it’s like to drive, it is quite simply one of the nicest sports cars you will ever experience. It’s not the fastest in a straight line (0-62mph takes 4.4 seconds – although that’s nothing to sniff at) and there’s no launch trickery like you’ll find in top-end Porsche models. Top speed, however, will nudge 190mph.

But what makes the GT8 such an unusual delight to drive is the way it responds so cleanly to your inputs – be that on the throttle, the brake pedal, via the steering wheel or even the gearlever.

You can have your GT8 with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed paddle shift auto transmissions. The car we tried was the manual, and although it wasn’t perfect (the clutch is very heavy), shifting was still slick. Slightly old school in feel, sure, but in an era of digitised ‘perfection’, the GT8 is a breath of fresh air.

Crucially, it’s also 80kg lighter than the regular V8 S – or 100kg lighter if you specify all the lightweight options (at which point the price rises beyond £200,000). The cabin also reflects the lightweight theme, with new carbon door inserts and ultra-supportive bucket seats. However, the GT8 doesn’t feel like a stripped-out racer inside, and you’ll still find things like air-conditioning and Aston’s much-improved Infotainment II system as standard.

But this does mean it feels quantifiably more agile and lighter on its feet than the V8. Add this to the small power increase, and you end up with a completely different driving experience compared with the V8 S.

• Aston Martin DB11 prototype review

It’s the noise that makes the biggest difference. When fitted with the must-have titanium exhaust option – as on our test car – the GT8 emits a range of sounds between idle and the 7,200rpm red line that can (and will) bring grown men trembling to their knees. It sounds totally unique and is utterly addictive at all speeds. If it were my fantasy £165,000, I think this is where it would go. The GT8 is worth every single penny, and then some.

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