When offered the keys to the Aston Martin V8 Vantage 4.3, I thought to myself, do I really need to drive this? Will our readers appreciate reading about a car that has just been superseded by a new 4.7 litre version? As we’re all too aware, sometimes our jobs force us to do things that are boring or we’re not interested in, but luckily, I do not fall into this category, so like an excited little school boy, I grabbed the keys and raced to the garage.
Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage is the third sports car to come out of the British stable since Dr Ulrich Bez took the reigns and released the sublime Vanquish, and the exquisite DB9. Positioned to go head-to-head with machines such as Porsche’s 911 and now also the Audi R8 (which we will be featuring in the not too distant future, watch this space), this car really does have its work cut out.
When the design team received their brief for the V8 Vantage, they were told to make it look like a well-toned athlete wearing a skin-tight suit, whatever that means. Obviously they did get the message because what they’ve managed to turn out is a car that is both elegant and aggressive, with that unmistakable Aston Martin style. Standing at 1,255mm tall, 1,875mm wide and 4,380mm long, it has the perfect sports car lines teamed with a long low bonnet and a wide muscular stance, resulting in a piece of art that wouldn’t look out of place if it was on display at the Louvre. The use of materials such as lightweight alloys, magnesium and advanced composites help keep the cars weight low whilst still maintaining rigidity and safety.
On the inside we see much the same, with leather and aluminum everywhere you’d expect and more. For a car that sits so low there was plenty of headroom and enough space behind the seats to fit an overnight bag or two. All the switchgear has a bespoke, quality feel, the steering wheel is hand stitched, the starter button is glass, the centre stack has been lifted from the DB9 and the aluminum instrument cluster - which was designed by Aston’s Swiss watch partner Jaeger-LeCoultre - has a three-dimensional look, and warning lights which only become visible when illuminated. All this adds up to a comfortable high class cabin environment, perfect for touring the Australian countryside.
When you accelerate through the rev range you are awash with an amazing sound from the front-mid-mounted 4.3 litre V8. It’s absolutely incredible; at 4000rpm the exhaust flap opens to deliver a roar of biblical proportions, you can hear this car coming long before you see it. Somehow, the car doesn’t feel as fast as I was expecting, even with the 283kW power output. Don’t get me wrong, it is fast, and maxes out at a top speed of 280 km/h but I was hoping for more – greedy, I know.
As a city driver this car has its drawbacks. The gearbox requires a firm hand and the heavy clutch will give your left leg a good workout which can become a struggle in traffic. The suspension is also a little stiff which affects the ride for daily driving but as soon as you get out of town it all comes together on the tight and twisty roads. The responsive steering prompts you to test the vehicles agility and the strong brakes give you an added sense of security. The seats offer a good balance between comfort and support which is very important in a car like this. The throttle response is a little slow but once it gets going the sound alone is sure to put a smile on your dial.
As a drivers car I think the Porsche 911 is still the one to beat, but so much can be forgiven with the Aston purely because of its joie de vive and the sense that you turn into James Bond when you hop into the drivers seat (even though its no DBS, which I would love to drive if anyone from Aston Martin is reading this). This really is a great car and with the new 4.7 litre engine it’s sure to get better. We could argue all day about how the 911 is so much technically better and faster but for me choosing a car is not a science. My money would go to the Aston.Rating: 4 out of 5 starsCompetitors
Porsche 911 Carrers 4S