While the engine in the old one started life out as a Jaguar unit, this one is from Mercedes, using the AMG GT’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine – indeed, Mercedes owns a small stake of Aston Martin. The engine produces 510hp and 685Nm of torque, enough for a claimed 3.7-second 0-62mph time and 195mph top speed.
Any shortfalls found in the interior are easily forgotten when you press the start button, waking up with a roar and burbling away with menacing intent.
It’s a great power unit, with strong response from low-down to make it an easy, relaxing car to drive at lower speed, especially with the smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox – though a manual gearbox will be offered later.
How fast is it?
The Vantage might use the same engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox as the DB11 V8 and produce almost identical performance, but it feels much faster. This is partly due to a 129kg reduction in weight versus the larger car, and also shorter gearing.
As a result the Vantage feels keen to gather speed almost anywhere in the rev range, giving it both easy flexibility for lower-speed overtaking and a thrilling run to peak revs at 7,000rpm. The gearbox, similarly, feels more energetic, with more positive engagement from each shift, even if it can still feel smooth during relaxed driving, just like the engine.
Compared to its rivals, the performance isn’t as hard-hitting as any of them, as they all push you harder into your seat under acceleration, but this is plenty quick enough. The noise it makes is not quite as theatrical as some of its rivals either, but it’s still loud enough – It sounds better than a 911, but is just a bit more subtle in the way it goes about its business than any of its V8 or V10-engined rivals.
What's it like to drive?
Considering the generous performance and rear-wheel-drive layout, the Vantage puts its power down with impressive composure. There will be no complaints about the performance available, except perhaps from the traction control system. Get a little over-eager and the systems quickly quells unruly wheelspin, although in wet, winter weather conditions, we did find the ESC light flashing away right up to fourth gear.
Turbocharged engines can suffer from a spongy throttle pedal and turbo lag when you accelerate, but the Vantage is crisp and responsive, giving it the immediacy a sports car deserves – and drivers expect. Best of all, the V8 revs towards peak power with great enthusiasm and a suitably intoxicating soundtrack.
There are three drive modes available to alter the engine, gearbox and ESC ferocity, named Sport, Sport+ and Track.
- Agile and fun, but less so than a 911
- Steering could do with more feel
- Great handling combined with decent comfort
On the road, the Vantage immediately feels more aggressive than the mechanically similar DB11 V8. The suspension is much firmer, there’s significantly more road noise, and the engine sounds more raucous too. It’s a sportier, less soothing companion than a DB11, if still perfectly usable, but the Vantage’s sharper focus also makes it a more enthralling drive.
Steering that offered more road feel would be welcome, but the response overall is superb and this doesn’t detract from the Vantage being an incredibly engaging car to drive over a challenging road. The chassis is extremely well set up with body roll quickly controlled, the brake and throttle fizzing with feedback and the Vantage rapidly builds driver confidence thanks to a combination of huge front-end grip and fleet-footed agility.
As well as three drive modes for the engine and gearbox, there are modes for the suspension as well, but in short, you don’t really need it to be any firmer during daily use.
Even when pushed to extremes in the snow, the chassis also seems incredibly benign as the rear end slides out of line and then regains its composure – it feels both playful in its willingness to entertain and confidence inspiring in its composure.
Mostly, drivers will leave the stability systems on, but it’s reassuring that the chassis is so well balanced with them disabled. Equally impressive is how quickly the brakes slow the Vantage in such tricky conditions – we tested only the standard brakes, though a far more expensive carbon-ceramic upgrade will also be offered.
No, it’s not as agile as a Porsche 911 or McLaren 540C, but it’s more comfortable and luxurious than either of them and still manages to be enjoyable, without ever feeling terrifying.