This all-new 2018 Vantage is a very important car for Aston Martin. It is not its signature vehicle, like the DB Series cars, named for David Brown who saved the company from financial ruin in the mid-20th century. It is not their hypercar “halo” flagship, like the $2.5 million Valkyrie, developed as a Formula One racer for the road. But it has long been the company’s best-selling model, its bread and butter, its gateway point of entrée for consumers. It’s a six-figure sports car that epitomizes the brand’s delicate, almost alchemical, blend of performance, luxury, and beauty.
This Vantage raises the bar in all three areas. Enhanced speed comes courtesy of the growling twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine, produced by Mercedes-Benz, which holds a 5 percent stake in the boutique British brand. Benz has a hand in the technology that underpins the new car as well, providing its digital dashboard and COMAND information and entertainment screens and interface. Interior indulgence comes courtesy of Aston’s talented craftspeople, who create wood and composite marquetry, knurl metal knobs, and handily “brogue” leather — piercing it in a constellation pattern, as on a wingtip shoe, to allow subtle sub-dermal contrasting colors to come through. And the new exterior design takes the Vantage’s sharp-nosed, flat-tailed bullet shape and makes it at once more sensuous and more muscular. (Though we might be tempted by a more, ahem, traditional color than this noxious Lime Essence.)
A crisper nose, broader hips, more sculpted sides, and additional aggressive aerodynamic add-ons give the new Vantage a more menacing silhouette. The Vantage’s designers liken the shape to a shark: always in motion, seeking its prey. A narrowed greenhouse — the openings for the windows and windshields — makes the car appear lower, more connected to the ground.
The trim bits on the traditional “hill climb” Aston grille, the skirts under the doors, the rear fascia, and the triangular fender vents can be ordered in body color, gloss black, satin titanium, or exposed carbon fiber. A two-pipe dual exhaust system comes as standard; a four-pipe quad exhaust is optional.
The car uses no active aerodynamic aids to enhance road-holding, just the sculpted body kit and front and rear spoilers and diffusers. The narrow horizontal headlamps are inspired by those on the car Aston custom-designed for the last James Bond movie, Spectre.
The signature Aston Martin “waterfall” — a curved cascade running down the middle of the cabin from windshield to center console — has been replaced by a more logical, and sporty, landscape array. Clear crystal transmission shift pushbuttons remain, but are now arranged in an arc. The blank triangular space in front of the infotainment controller can (and will) house a 7-speed manual transmission, a rarity in contemporary sports cars, but an Aston brand promise.
Contrasting color hand-stitching, embroidery, and broguing abounds in the cabin, offering distinctive moments of levity and delight. Trim pieces can be ordered in multiple materials and colors. Aston’s “Q” specialization shop can customize your car to your specifications. A squared-off steering wheel is shared with the DB11.
THE FACT SHEET
The Vantage is perfectly balanced, with 50 percent of its weight over the front and 50 percent over the rear. Lightweight metal alloys and composite materials help keep the car’s weight down to around a mere 3,300 pounds.
· First US deliveries of the new Vantage will take place in June 2018
· Price: Under $150,000
· Performance: 0-60 3.6 seconds, Top Speed 195 mph
· Power: 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8 503 hp / 505 lb-ft
· Dog not included