Next Car's Aston Martin V8 Vantage road test took the Editor
from Melbourne to Victoria's Cape Schanck lighthouse and beyond.
FACT: David Brown owned the Aston Martin company from 1947 until
1972. His initials became the famous "DB" monicker, which is used on the larger Aston Martin sports cars.
Stephen Walker with the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Our Editor drove
this car some 355 kilometres around Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula and beyond.
FACT: The Aston Martin V8 Vantage concept car was
America's 2003 Detroit Motor Show. The production version debuted at Switzerland's 2005 Geneva Motor Show. Since
that time the V8 Vantage has been refined and updated. Significant developments have been the addition of a roadster
version and an increase in the displacement of the V8 engine (from 4.3 litre to 4.7 litres). A V12 Vantage was added
to the Aston Martin European range earlier this year. The V12 Vantage will be arriving in Australia soon.
"Heronswood" in Dromana, Victoria, is an appropriate photographic
backdrop for an Aston Martin. British heritage at its best ..... twice over!
FACT: The V8 Vantage is the most popular Aston Martin ever. Over
10,000 units have been delivered worldwide. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is hand-built at the company's HQ at Gaydon,
FACT: Ford Motor Company acquired 75% of Aston Martin's shares in 1987.
Ford acquired the remaining 25% in 1994. In 2007, when Ford sold Aston Martin, the company was acquired by Middle
Eastern and American consortiums.
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ROAD TEST: Aston Martin V8 Vantage
by Stephen Walker
26th August, 2009
Road Tests >
Does anyone know how many automotive brands exist? Whilst I know
no-one who does, I must admit the description fits me too. That said, there is one brand that, seemingly, everyone
recognises in today's motoring environment. Of course, we're talking Aston Martin here. It's a brand that has
acquired a lasting bond with people throughout the 'first' world.
Whilst the brand has been around for over 90 years, perception leads me to believe it was the David Brown years
that provided the famous British brand with an unmistakable presence on the road. The classic styling of the former
DB series is 'wrapped' in each of today's Aston Martins. And it is the beauty of the glorious DBs that is captured
so evocatively for current buyers. It's like having the past in your future.
Our road test of an Aston Martin V8 Vantage provides an excellent opportunity to determine just how the link
between the past, the present and the future works for a brand that is experiencing a distinct "up" in a long line
of ups and downs. Furthermore, we get a definite feel for how a product-led focus that catches the essence of the
past can relate to today's sophisticated buyer who is looking to the past (without peering backwards), as they
head towards the future.
Behind the 'wheel' I quickly ascertained that the highly tuned V8 engine is more than capable of responding
to the accelerator pedal. In fact, the quad overhead camshaft, 32 valve, 4,735 cc, V8 is brutal with performance.
The factory indicate 0-100 km/h takes a mere 4.8 seconds. But that's only for a driver willing to apply some
real pressure to the accelerator. On a quiet road, way down yonder, I accelerated from a "STOP" sign up to the
speed limit. The harmonious performance from the 8 cylinder 'symphony' only lasted a brief moment. The speed limit
was 80 km/h, so that quickly ended the enjoyment. Yet, clearly, the V8 Vantage demonstrates that it possesses all
the performance anyone would ever want from a car. That performance was highlighted again on the road leading up
to Arthur's Seat (Victoria). This winding stretch goes up and up and can, if you're not cautious, motivate you
to try some acceleration 'trials'. The precise steering, with just 3 turns lock to lock, will force you to respect
this nimble sports car. Then there is the brilliant chassis that makes it all work together, with superb handling
and a firm ride. Exceptionally powerful brakes can easily put a stop to your excitement (when applied that is).
In fact, it was at Arthur's Seat that I considered the question "is the V8 Vantage a sports car or a race
car?" Of course, history records the name Aston Martin originates from an event in England known as the Aston Hill
Climb. That, by the way, was back in 1914.
On the subject of performance, I am more than willing to disclose the highest speed that I was able to achieve
with this 4,380 mm long 'power house'. In quite light traffic conditions I got this car right up to 100 km/h, which
was the maximum allowable speed in the particular area. If you were to go onto a privately owned race track or air
field it is, apparently, possible to achieve a maximum speed of 290 km/h in suitable conditions. Please be assured
though, there is plenty of satisfaction at the speed limit.
Power for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage is rated at 313 kW @ 7,300 rpm, whilst maximum torque is 470 Nm @ 5,000
rpm. It's at this 5,000 reading that the aural qualities of the small two seater Aston Martin is appreciated. But,
as indicated, it doesn't last long when you're driving on a public road. The selection of top gear is certainly an
easy way to terminate a "command performance" from the eight 'singing' cylinders as the rev counter drops to a
Whilst the Aston Martin V8 Vantage has a manual transmission as standard, the test car was fitted with the
optional 'automated' manual transmission. For this automated transmission, paddles are provided for manual
shifting and 'push buttons' are provided for a semi-automatic style of operation. Going for automatic takes a few
kilometres to adjust to a suitable manner for controlling the gear changes with the accelerator. The gearbox will
select the gear in the usual manner, but by controlling the engine revs allows the 'box to change gears in a
smoother manner. You will feel the gear changes, but you do get used to reducing the effect by experiencing it and
using the old principles of repetition to eliminate the lack of smoothness.
Fuel consumption is unlikely to be a primary concern for Aston Martin drivers. Just as well. For rocket ship
performance you can expect rocket ship consumption! Not quite, but at 13.9 litres/100 km (manual) and 13.2
litre/100 km (Sportshift) on the combined cycle in European testing, the V8 Vantage does use fuel at an acceptable
rate for a V8. Performance driving will soon throw these type of figures out the power operated windows though.
Britain's Aston Martin V8 Vantage is a serious car, offering serious performance. It costs serious money, too.
For example, the manual coupe is priced from $258,737 whilst the automated manual (Sportshift) is priced from
$267,476. These prices exclude dealer delivery fees and the various statutory charges. Of course, options are an
additional expense to these costs.
Options are plentiful by the way. This is an exclusive car and it can be personalised to the extreme. If you
order a purpose built car a waiting time of 6 to 7 months is the current 'norm'. Our test car was optioned way up.
For example, our car had sports pack - wheels and suspension ($6,620), premium audio ($2,648), customised paint
($?), satellite navigation ($4,608), user-friendly cruise control ($789), memory seats ($789),
trickle charger ($254?) and numerous other features. I suspect the price (excluding dealer and statutory charges)
was close to $300,000 (in round figures) for our "Sportshift" version of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
A roadster version of the V8 Vantage is also available. Other Aston Martin models available include the DB9,
DB9 Volante and the DBS. New models coming along soon include the V12 Vantage and DBS Volante. Another future
model is the Rapide. The ultra exclusive One-77 is another model planned for the not too distant future. There is
still more news coming from Aston Martin as the company prepares for the relaunch of the Lagonda brand. Stay tuned
to Next Car for updates on the return of this once famous marque.
But back to the V8 Vantage.
The quality of numerous fitments to this car is quite impressive. The moment you first see the hand stitching on
the leather components such as the seats, console and dashboard you appreciate just what fine craftmanship is
involved in putting a V8 Vantage together. The silver stitching (on black leather) in the test car was appropriate
and sufficient to provide a lasting impression of the value of no compromising with quality. Further, the light
coloured alcantara headlining was a excellent presentation in the test car. The electrically operated sports seats
are beautifully presented and allow exceptional comfort. To assist the 'dialling up' of a good driving position,
the steering wheel will adjust four ways. Although the up/down selection of the 'wheel' is limited to quite a
short range. Armrests are located at the correct height for a driver of my stature. The central locking can be
operated by a switch on the console extension. Whilst two 'part-time' cup holders are included, it must be
recognised that their use renders the centre console armrest useless.
Numerous convenience features make living with the V8 Vantage easy. For example, a light glows in the external
door handles making the task of locating the handle in the dark an uncomplicated affair. But the real boon are
the doors themselves. When opened they stay open. We tried on numerous occasions to position a door so it would
'fall' back towards the occupant. But no, the door 'stays' permit the door to remain open thus providing a
tremendous benefit to occupants. Additionally, the doors 'fall' upwards upon opening. This eliminates or, at
least, reduces any prospect of scraping a 'gutter' where parking angles are an issue. A very neat trick. Entry and
egress is always an issue with a sports car. Especially if your bones don't bend too well. This year has seen
Next Car road test numerous sports cars. In comparison, the V8 Vantage is not the easiest to enter, but it
certainly isn't the most difficult either.
Luggage space is pleasingly acceptable. There is an area suitable for three 'soft' overnight bags behind the
seats. Additionally, the boot is surprisingly accommodating.
With the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, an enthralling experience is just one press of the ignition away. Our Aston
Martin V8 Vantage road test demonstrated that nothing seems to have changed over the years with this 'thoroughbred'
Powerful performance, classic styling, admirable heritage and a superb product line-up make a compelling case
for today's Aston Martin. With the V8 Vantage the advantage is the nimble handling that is so precise that it
motivates you to enjoy it when convenient, where possible. The brutal performance is satisfying in itself, but the
driving enjoyment is best appreciated when the odometer is clicking over the big distances. It's on those
occasions that you really appreciate the fact that you're in one of the greatest marques the world has ever
To sum up an experience with the exciting Aston Martin V8 Vantage is to realise that the small, mid-front
engined, rear wheel drive, Aston is like a racing car with number plates. It is raw to a degree, thus permitting
aggressive acceleration whilst superior driving dynamics ensure absolutely brilliant handling and control.
Aston Martins have always been beyond a regular sports car. Nothing has changed really, as the V8 Vantage
proves that 'heritage listed' styling and contemporary design can produce an outstanding car that demands to be
driven. The fact that craftsmanship and quality components, together with a prized 'hand-built' attitude exists
in this day of mass production indicates Aston Martin has not lost any of its appeal. In fact, because survival
is a numbers game in today's automotive industry, the famous British brand has gained additional acceptance
because of its no compromise approach.
More Aston Martin News .....