The Aston Martin Vantage provides the British brand with a new and exciting arrow in its quiver aimed straight at the heart of freshly minted money looking to be spent on something more exclusive than a Porsche 911. It also happens to be one of the best-driving cars in its class.
It’s by now a familiar bit of Hollywood lore: The Vantage springs from the loins of the DB10, which was itself a sketch on the wall at Aston Martin HQ before James Bond director Sam Mendes demanded that it be rushed into production to serve as the secret agent’s steed for the next instalment in the franchise – 2015’s Spectre.
Inspired by a car that never really existed in the first place, the Vantage cleans up some of the DB10’s broader edges and presents as a more cohesive collection of curves and edges. It’s also surprisingly smaller than some of its direct competitors, including the 911, which stands in contrast to the coupe’s exceptional street presence. You will be noticed, which makes driving the Vantage an exercise in extroversion – truly the mark of any successful supercar player.
This low score is not intended to reflect any particular dangers associated with the Aston Martin Vantage (other than giving all of your friends whiplash when you hit the accelerator). Rather, it’s indicative of the complete lack of active safety equipment in the car. There are no beeps, drones, tones, or vibrations from a blind-spot system or scolds from a lane-keep assistant to distract you from the drive. Yes, that sounds like heaven to me, too, but it also means doing away with conveniences like adaptive cruise control, which could be an issue for anyone spending this much cash on a car.
The Aston Martin Vantage may only offer seating for two, but the vehicle’s recent redesign has improved how it uses its overall interior space. Lift the rear hatch and you’ll find a surprising amount of cargo room, roughly equivalent to what you might discover in a compact five-door. The area is open to the rest of the cabin and can be extended by way of a lift-up divider that creates a second storage sling between the trunk itself and the well behind the Vantage’s seats. The latter also offer a modicum of stowage directly behind, all of which helps make up for the car’s missing glove box and mini-console in the middle.
User Friendliness: 8/10
Aston Martin elected to borrow the entirety of its infotainment package from Mercedes-Benz, which means the Vantage is outfitted with a moderate reskin of the Comand system found in every Silver Star vehicle (albeit one generation behind the latest and greatest). It’s a commendable setup with an easy-to-use rotary dial, backed up by a slew of hard buttons and toggles on the centre stack, console, and steering wheel. Everything about how the Vantage’s switchgear operates is intuitive and seamless, with no unnecessary concessions made to form over function.
How much of the modern luxury experience is defined by the gadgets and gear loaded onto the options sheet, and how much instead flows from the quality and comfort of the cabin? I’ll explore the latter in a moment, but the former is somewhat subdued in the Vantage, which relies not so much on tricks but rather treats when doling out its finely-tuned ownership experience. Navigation, satellite radio, and seat heaters are all on deck, but there are no gimmicky gesture controls or perfume dispensers to complicate the car’s upscale character. Everything you need and nothing that you don’t would sum up Aston Martin’s philosophy with this particular car, and while that might not sit well with those conditioned to expect over-the-top tech in an entry-level exotic, it certainly works in favour of those who purchase the Vantage to enjoy the drive.
Infotainment isn’t the only German influence to be found when examining the 2020 Aston Martin Vantage’s equipment list. The car is powered by a Mercedes-AMG engine which displaces 4.0L and is turbocharged to provide 503 hp and 503 lb-ft of torque. Paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox riding just over the rear axle, it’s a splendid configuration that launches the coupe to 100 km/h in a super-quick 3.4 seconds. A manual transmission model is also available, and while it might feature reduced engine torque (to protect the delicate innards of its dog-leg seven-speed setup), it checks in as lighter than the auto-equipped car.
The Vantage is unique in that it manages to combine a sharp character with a genial day-to-day comportment – not easy when it’s so common for chassis tuning to err too far on the side of the checkered flag. Beyond its cruising compliance is its well-insulated and exquisitely turned-out cabin, which features a high level of customization in terms of colours, materials, and stitching for its Bridge of Weir leather. Combine that with an airy cockpit that provides plenty of room to stretch out in nearly every direction, and it’s clear that Aston Martin has designs on the Vantage fulfilling a grand touring role when it’s not being flogged on a race track.
Driving Feel: 9/10
Is an AMG-powered Aston the perfect marriage of beauty, balance, and brawn? From the driver’s seat, the answer to that question feels like a distinct, guttural “Yes.” Freed of its inhibitions through the selection of either Sport+ or Track driving modes, the turbocharged V8 roars with a fury that could strip the white-painted lines off the asphalt below as it charges forward with nary a care for the vagaries of Newtonian physics. Even without its paddle shifters in action, the Vantage’s automatic swaps gears with sagacity and smoothness, searing the heavens on throttle-blipped downshifts and generally terrorizing the local population when the go-pedal is pegged.
The delights of the car’s mechanical muscle are amplified by the undying devotion of its chassis when indulging your every whim behind the wheel. The Vantage wants to play, but more than that it wants you to have fun along with it, and the end result is a very approachable car through the corners that won’t overwhelm novice drivers while at the same time providing near endless exploration for professionals seeking to explore the coupe’s 300 km/h limit on a closed course. We live in an era of friendly supercars, with examples such as the Nissan GT-R and Audi R8 providing glitch-free gateways to seriously big speed, but few can match the involvement of the Aston on the way there.
Fuel Economy: 7/10
The Vantage checks in with fuel mileage ratings of 13.1 L/100 km in city driving and 9.6 L/100 km on the highway when found with its automatic transmission in place. If one opts for the seven-speed manual, those numbers dip substantially: 16.7 L/100 km city and 11.2 L/100 km highway.
At what cost to be different? This is a fundamental puzzler for any Aston Martin enthusiast, because it’s possible to buy coupes that are both faster and more heavily featured than the Vantage for roughly the same money. What the Brit brings to the table, however, is the exclusivity that comes with driving something your equally upscale neighbour surely isn’t, combined with a genuinely passionate drive that has been erased from other more capable but ultimately less rewarding exotics. Be cognizant of what you are paying for when buying the Vantage, and you’ll surely be satisfied.
The 2020 Aston Martin is the brand’s most modern car, but that’s no strike against it in any of the fast, fun, or fantastic columns. The super coupe delivers a genuine alternative to the existing crop of sub-$200,000 grand tourers clogging up the hedge fund parking garage.
|Peak Horsepower||503 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||505 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||13.1/9.6/11.5 L/100 km city/hwy/comb|
|Cargo Space||350 L|
|Model Tested||2020 Aston Martin Vantage|
|Price as Tested||$198,493.25|
$18,469 – Black Bodypack, $2,700; Contrast Colour Stitching / Welt, $690; Exterior Black Collection, $4,600; Contemporary Leather Colour, $2,100; Contemporary Paint, $2,100; Matte Black (Quad) Stainless Steel, $1,914; Colour Keyed Steering Wheel, $865; 10spl Directional Gloss Black DT, $3,500