Aston Martin Vantage S
We hit the road in Aston Martin's hottest Vantage coupe yet.
Six years on from its launch, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage continues to evolve. The S is not revolutionary, but the exterior revisions strike a fine balance between aggression and style, while the tuneful engine and upmarket cabin are pure traditional sports car. More importantly, the chassis tweaks have sharpened the responses and improved driver involvement. The seven-speed gearbox is a first for Aston Martin as well. Brutish, classy, fast and involving, the Vantage S oozes the kind of character fans of the marque love.
It’s time for customers to take ‘ad-Vantage’ of Aston Martin’s competitive spirit! This is the new V8 Vantage S. It’s been developed using lessons learned from the GT4 and N24 racers, and is the most driver-focused version of the established coupé.
Slotting into the line-up between the standard car and the mighty V12 Vantage, the S sees the 4.7-litre V8 tuned to its most potent output yet. An extra 10bhp takes power up to 430bhp, while torque rises by 20Nm to 490Nm.
However, it’s the new gearbox that’s the biggest mechanical step. Designed exclusively for the S, the Sportshift automated manual has seven ratios for the first time. The first six are stacked closer together, allowing you to really keep the V8 spinning at above 4,000rpm, where it produces most of its power.
Car group tests
The fact that this transmission is 24kg lighter than the six-speed unit contributes to an overall 30kg weight saving. Combined with the closely set ratios, this helps the S deliver punchy responses which keen owners will relish.
When driven at low speeds, the shifts aren’t as smooth as on some double clutch-equipped rivals. But switch to Sport mode and change up close to the red line with a wide-open throttle, and you get much faster – and slightly brutal – upshifts.
On top of that, as in other variants, Sport mode delivers a sharper throttle response and a raucous exhaust note. This glorious deep V8 roar – and the lovely crackle from the exhausts when you lift off – is a big part of the Vantage’s character, and in the S these aural treats have been further enhanced.
The host of chassis upgrades can be felt, too. While it’s not revolutionary, the S is sharper, tauter and more precise than the standard car.
For starters, a shortened steering rack ratio improves agility, while wider front tyres ensure a reassuringly positive turn-in and impressive levels of front-end grip.
At the rear, any loss of traction is quickly communicated to the driver. Revised damper and spring settings mean that the ride, while firm, isn’t so stiff that it becomes wearing on the road.
Inside, the cabin is largely unchanged, but the option to add an Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel or carbon sports seats gives it a racy edge. Yet it’s on the exterior where the S really stands out.
It takes its aero inspiration from the GT4 racer, and wider sills stop air spilling under the car, while the pronounced tailgate lip prevents lift at speed. Meanwhile, the deeper front splitter allows space for bigger cooling vents.
Fortunately, the additions give a far more aggressive look without spoiling its classic detailing and well proportioned style. Honed and enhanced, the Vantage S is a great example of competition improving the breed.