Aston Martin Vantage review - Engines, performance and drive
Strong pace is matched with excellent refinement and entertaining, involving handling
Developing a range of engines from scratch is hugely expensive, especially when faced with increasingly tough and demanding emission levels. As a result, Aston Martin has sourced the Vantage’s engine from Mercedes-AMG. Under the car’s shapely bonnet you’ll find a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre AMG V8 that develops 503bhp and the Vantage retains a traditional rear-wheel-drive approach, unlike many of its rivals, which have all-wheel drive.
Aston’s engineers have tweaked the engine to give it a character more in line with what’s expected of the British brand, and it’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. There are three driving modes – Sport, Sport+ and Track – and these settings have a direct effect on the engine, gearbox, steering and adaptive dampers. The Vantage’s suspension set-up follows that of the DB11, with double wishbones at the front and a multi-link system at the rear, and power is transmitted to the road via an electronically controlled limited-slip differential.
So, the new Aston Martin Vantage has all the basic ingredients in its arsenal, but how does it drive? In short, very well, indeed. The default driving mode is Sport – the most comfort-orientated of the three – and this makes the Vantage remarkably cultured for a 500bhp sports car. The ride exhibits a welcome comfort even on pockmarked roads, while the slick eight-speed box shuffles through its ratios pretty seamlessly.
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Car group tests
The Vantage really comes alive when you select Sport+ or Track mode, though, with a more strident tone from the engine and its responses more finely honed. The steering is well weighted and accurate and, while it might not give as much quite feel and feedback as a Porsche 911, it’s much better than most of its rivals. Despite only having rear-wheel drive the Vantage transmits its power to the road very effectively and rarely scrabbles for grip. Turn the traction control fully off and the Vantage will drift very effectively, with a beautifully composed action controlled by your right foot and the steering. Overall, the Vantage really is a superb driver’s car.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
Despite being smaller than the V8 engine in the old Vantage, the Mercedes-AMG sourced V8 in this car more than makes up for it with the addition of a brace of turbochargers. It develops 503bhp and 685Nm of torque, which is more than enough for most situations, and capable of rocketing the Vantage from 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds before reaching a maximum speed of 195mph.
Aston Martin has tweaked the engine to give a more quintessentially Aston noise. However, while it certainly sounds different to the same engine in Mercedes-AMG vehicles, it is relatively subdued, lacking that characteristic snarl to which we’re accustomed. It really comes alive higher up the rev range, though, and will undoubtedly be loud enough for most buyers, although there’s also an optional sports exhaust that sounds even better.
The V8 responds well to throttle inputs, especially in its two sportier settings, and works very well with the ZF gearbox. Like many manufacturers, Aston has ditched a gear shifter and instead has buttons on the centre console to select Park, Neutral and Drive. Sadly, it’s not as intuitive as having a gear lever, although if you want to swap gear ratios manually, it’s done with the shapely paddles behind the steering wheel.
In this review
- 1Aston Martin Vantage reviewThe Aston Martin Vantage blends modern styling with a Mercedes-AMG V8 and is one of the most appealing cars in its class
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingStrong pace is matched with excellent refinement and entertaining, involving handling
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsYou’ll need deep pockets to run a Vantage, but it’s no worse than other cars in its class
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Vantage blends traditional craftsmanship with modern hi-tech materials and technology
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Vantage has a roomy cockpit and an excellent boot, so it’s surprisingly practical
- 6Reliability and SafetyWith tried and tested Mercedes-AMG running gear, the Vantage is expected to be reliable