Hardcore look, AMG-built turbo V8 and all-new platform show the Vantage’s intent
The new 503bhp V8-engined Aston Martin Vantage is a “statement car” that showcases how the brand’s future models will become more individual and confident, according to its designer.
The new two-seater follows the DB11 as the second product of the British firm’s ‘second-century plan’, under which it will launch seven new cars in seven years. To ensure sufficient separation between the models, Aston is taking a bolder approach for each design.
The firm has revamped its entry-level model with an “analogue” approach that puts the focus on providing a direct, engaging drive, and that is reflected in the car’s exterior and interior design.
“The design team is trying to push a lot more and show the character of each car,” designer Sam Holgate told Autocar. “The Vantage is about being the hunter. It’s a car you want to get in and chase down a Lamborghini Huracán or a Porsche 911.”
The new Vantage’s front end is dominated by the lowest-sited functioning grille to have been used on a mainstream production Aston Martin.
The bonnet is a single clamshell design, with minimal shut lines. The turbocharged V8 engine doesn’t require air vents cut into the bonnet, although a slight bulge has been employed to link the car to the old V12 Vantage design and to create room for under-bonnet airflow to the turbo.
The flanks of the new Vantage have large side-cut features just behind the front wheels, which reflect the firm’s traditional side strakes and reduce pressure on the front tyres to cut drag.
The most dramatic styling is at the rear of the car, which is dominated by a large, downforce-generating diffuser, another first for a mainstream production Aston. Holgate called the diffuser a signature of the Vantage. “If you see this car overtaking you, you’ll know it’s an Aston Martin,” he said.
The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is tuned to produce 505lb ft of torque at 2000-5000rpm
The new Vantage has no active aerodynamics but instead generates all its downforce through the low front, small rear boot lip, flat underbody and diffuser.
The heightened styling of the Vantage echoes some of the flourishes seen on recent Aston Martin specials, such as the Vulcan and Vantage GT12. Holgate said: “With the special projects, we can push our DNA a lot further than we originally thought, and that’s given us the confidence to not be so precious about features on the production cars. When you do that, it can snowball into something that’s quite special – but still an Aston Martin.”
The Vantage has been designed around the Mercedes-AMG-built 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine used in the DB11. It’s tuned to produce 505lb ft of torque at 2000-5000rpm, a small increase on the DB11.
The Vantage can achieve 0-62mph in 3.7sec, with a top speed of 195mph. Aston Martin claims estimated fuel economy of 26.8mpg on the combined cycle.
Notably, the Vantage has been developed specifically for the V8 engine, with a V12 version likely to follow. The firm currently has no plans to produce a hybrid version of this generation of the Vantage. A hybrid Vantage is unlikely to arrive until the next generation of the model is launched, the firm having announced plans to offer an electrified version of every new car it produces from 2025 onwards.
The designers have worked on a range of interior personalisation options
Power is driven to the rear wheels of the Vantage through a rear-mounted ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, with an electronic limited-slip differential that offers dynamic stability control and dynamic torque vectoring modes. The new electronic rear differential, dubbed an E-Diff, is designed to make the car feel more composed in straight lines and corners. A manual gearbox is due to follow next year.
The chassis is based on the same bonded aluminium structure first used for the DB11, although Aston Martin says that 70% of the structure’s components are new for the Vantage. The car has a dry weight of 1530kg. It features double-wishbone suspension at the front, with multi-link suspension at the rear. Unlike with the DB11, the rear subframe is solidly mounted to the car rather than rubber-mounted. The aim of this is to increase the car’s rigidity and offer improved feel for the driver. There is adaptive damping, with three different modes: Sport, Sport Plus and Track.
The car runs on 20in wheels at the front and rear and specially developed Pirelli P Zero tyres. The front wheels feature two-piece 400mm steel brakes, with 360mm ventilated co-cast discs at the rear. Carbon-ceramic brakes will be offered as an option.
The new Vantage is 4465mm long and 2153mm wide (including mirrors), with a wheelbase of 2704mm achieved by extending the wheels towards each corner. Chief technical officer Max Szwaj said this is a key element of the design. “Having short overhangs helps the vehicle dynamics,” he said. “It focuses everything in the central part of the car, which helps balance with the 50/50 weight distribution.”
The two-seater also features a 350-litre boot, which was an important consideration for Aston Martin to ensure the car would be a viable option for weekend trips.
The interior of the new Vantage draws on the ‘analogue’ design of the exterior, with a driver-focused layout that features a combination of rotary and toggle controls. The controls are grouped into clusters for different systems on a central feature.
“It’s very different from our traditional layout, with much more drama. It’s more of a cockpit feel,” said Holgate. “We’ve tried to keep the analogue feel with the switches, especially the toggle ones.”
A leather and Alcantara interior, with a black leather steering wheel, is standard, and the range of optional extras includes carbonfibre interior and exhaust details. The Vantage also features an 8.0in LCD screen as standard, with smartphone integration.
Aston Martin’s designers have worked on a range of interior and exterior personalisation options, which are grouped into sets to give the car a variety of looks.
Prices for the new Vantage will start from £120,900 in the UK, with deliveries beginning in the second quarter of 2018.
Alongside the new Vantage road car, Aston Martin has also developed a GTE racing version, which will compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA World Endurance Championship next year. The works entries will, as before, be fielded by Aston Martin Racing and run by the Prodrive team. The new race car succeeds the previous Vantage GTE, which claimed a class victory in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours race.
WILL THE NEW VANTAGE JUSTIFY ITS PRICE?
The most obvious question that immediately presents itself about the new Vantage is to do with value for money. Given that you can still buy examples of the outgoing generation for little more than £90k, is £120k too much to expect people to pay?
It’s certainly a big leap for the Vantage to take. But, while I dare say some fans of the old car may be discouraged by the price of the new one, Aston Martin’s pricing is at least pretty competitive. If you want a Mercedes-AMG GT S with the same power as the Vantage instead, you’ll save less than £10,000. The cheapest Porsche 911 Turbo’s pricier still, as is the cheapest Audi R8 – while Ferrari’s new Portofino is likely to cost more than £150k.
The other factor likely to convince existing Vantage owners to sign on the dotted line is the huge and much-needed leap in performance. And there’s a lot more to come on that score. Aston insiders confirm that the firm’s twin-turbocharged V12 does just about fit under the Vantage’s bonnet – and that’s an engine that’ll be producing more than 700bhp and 650lb ft in some of its forthcoming applications, I hear. Even wound down to something closer to 600bhp, that ought to make the next V12 Vantage S an absolute monster.
Knowing how well Aston has done dynamically with the DB11 V8, I just can’t wait to drive one – V8 or V12.