Aston Martin Vantage S

Aston's competition-bred coupé storms into Britain in devastating fashion - with more power than ever.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The V8 Vantage S is a great example of how competition really can improve the breed. It takes useful lessons learned from Aston Martin’s racing cars and applies them to the road. The looks strike the right balance between aggression and style, while the engine sounds fantastic and now offers even more performance. Throw in handy chassis updates and that seven-speed box, and you’ve got one of the best Astons currently on sale.

This latest variant, the Vantage S, is the fastest, lightest and most thrilling V8 yet – and it was a riot when we drove it on the international launch (Issue 1,157). But what is it like on UK roads? We got behind the wheel.

Inspired by Aston’s GT4 and N24 racing cars, the Vantage S is the most driver-focused version of the V8-engined coupé. It sits between the standard machine and the enormously powerful V12 Vantage. A host of well judged exterior enhancements includes wider sills to clean up the aerodynamics, allowing less air to spill under the car and in turn reducing stability.

There is also a new diffuser and a pronounced tailgate lip to prevent lift at speed, while, at the front, a deeper carbon fibre spoiler incorporates larger, more aggressive cooling vents. Add new 19-inch V-spoke alloys, and the Vantage S has a more muscular look, yet it retains the standard model’s style, class and fine proportions.

While the cabin could benefit from improved switchgear, it’s enhanced by an optional Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel and carbon fibre-backed sports seats. Hill-hold also features, to make everyday driving even easier. Under the skin, a revised intake system lets in more air at high engine speeds, while the way in which the spark plugs ignite the fuel is more precisely managed. The result is that the fabulous 4.7-litre V8 gets an extra 10bhp, taking output to 430bhp. Torque also jumps by 20Nm to 490Nm. Those gains are useful, if not huge, but the biggest mechanical addition is an all-new seven-speed Sportshift automated manual gearbox. It’s designed to improve acceleration – the first six ratios are stacked closer together – yet reduce fuel consumption and CO2. What’s more, because the unit is 24kg lighter than the six-speed manual version, it contributes to an overall 30kg weight saving, too.

On paper, the figures show that Aston’s improvements have worked. The benchmark sprint from 0-62mph takes 4.5 seconds – three-tenths quicker than the standard car – while top speed is bumped up from 180mph to 189mph.

Despite the extra pace, the S is slightly more economical and cleaner. On the move, the new box isn’t that smooth at low speeds. Yet those ratios help you get the most out of the V8 when you pick up the pace, allowing you to keep in the powerband for more of the time.

Sport mode is great fun, too, bringing even faster shifts, sharper throttle response and an angrier exhaust note. Indeed, the noises the Vantage S emits are a big part of its appeal – the V8 roars deeply, while the exhausts pop and crackle when you lift off. With a quicker steering rack and wider front tyres, turn-in to corners is faster and more positive.

And tweaked suspension settings mean that the whole car feels tauter, even though the ride, while firm, is still great for bumpy UK roads. It all adds up to the best Vantage yet – and proves that, as with Porsche’s 911, constant evolution really is the way forward.

Rival: Porsche 911 GT3 If ever a sports car was designed to put a smile on your face, it’s the 429bhp GT3. It’s certainly more involving than the new Aston, but can prove tiring in everyday use.

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