GAH! Whoa, wait! Hold up here a second! Look, I know a car company has to grow and progress and all that sort of thing, but Aston Martin, I think you might want to really give some thought to where you’re heading. And no, I’m not just talking about the color they’ve chosen for the new Vantage, that’s enough of an eyesore.
Aston Martin’s main stock in trade for a very long time has been style. Not style at the expensive of performance, but style in concert with performance. If you just went by pure performance, why would you buy an Aston Martin over something like a Ferrari, for roughly the same amount of doe-rae-mi? You wouldn’t, really. Aston Martins are okay, numbers-wise, but not outstanding.
What pushes a lot of people over the top is how an Aston Martin looks. They’re sort of the automotive equivalent of the really good looking guy in a Savile Row suit. He seems like marriage material ladies, then he opens his mouth and you realize he won’t be in the running for the Lucasian Chair at Oxford any time soon. And that’s okay. I understand wanting a certain level of style in your life. And, frankly, the numbers on the new Vantage ain’t that bad.
Power & Performance
The most important figures here are the max speed of 195 mph and the 0 to 60 sprint in 3.6 seconds. Okay numbers, but, you know, a Ferrari 488 GTB would jump all over it with both feet. This performance all flows from a new alloy 4-liter, twin-turbo V8 engine. The plant is set low and well back in the chassis, making for an optimal center of gravity and 50:50 weight distribution. Said mill puts out 503 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 505 lb-ft. of torque. The dry weight is a not all that inconsiderable 3,373 lbs.
All that power and torque heads to the rear wheels only (thank you) via a rear-mounted ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and transaxle. It employs a suite of integrated electronic systems, like Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Torque Vectoring for maximum grip and fun. This is also the first Aston Martin with an E-Diff Electronic Rear Differential.
The new Vantage chassis is similar to the bonded aluminum structure first seen on the DB11. 70 percent of the structure’s components are new for the Vantage, improving overall balance, strength, rigidity, and weight efficiency. There’s a solidly mounted rear subframe for an enhanced understanding of what the rear tires are doing (most likely locking up and shooting you forward like a golf ball from a tee). Speaking of tires, those are new Pirelli P Zeros developed specifically for the Vantage. There’s also Aston Martin’s latest Adaptive Damping System that incorporates Skyhook technology with Sport, Sport Plus, and Track modes at the flip of a switch.
And, since the new Vantage costs about as much as a one bedroom condo in Detroit, it features a high level of standard equipment. Keyless start/stop, a tire pressure monitoring system, Parking Distance Display, Park Assist, and front and rear parking sensors are all there. The entertainment system, controlled via a centrally mounted eight-inch LCD screen, includes the Aston Martin Audio System, Bluetooth streaming, iPod, iPhone, and USB playback, along with satellite navigation and Wi-Fi.
All this is well and true and good as a high performance sports car should be. It’s the styling that leaves me and the rest of the kids at One Automoblog Towers ruefully shaking our heads. Oh sure, Aston Martin crows about the Vantage, using words and phrases like “spectacular” and “bold and distinctive design language” and “sculptural forms” and “athletic, predatory stance” and “muscular flanks and broad haunches express the agility and . . .” stop, just stop. We get it. Just speaking for myself, it seems kind of ham-handed and lacking in subtlety. The headlights are way squinty, the front end seems half thought out, there’s a bunch of go-fast kicks and flips and aero bits and pieces that I’m sure help with performance, but look like something from a Fast and Furious movie.
And look, we get that styling is subjective and some people will actually be okay with what Aston Martin is doing here. And others will just be fan-boys that will genuflect at anything and everything that comes out of the shops at Gaydon. But really, Aston Martin should haul this back in before they turn into this decade’s Chris Bangle-sized punch line.
The new Vantage is currently on sale with a retail price starting at $149,995. Deliveries are scheduled to begin during the second quarter of 2018.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.