Aston Martin V8 Vantage 2012: Road Test

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Aston Martin V8 Vantage 2012: Road Test
Aston Martin Vantage

Aston Martin V8 Vantage 2012: Road Test

Subtle styling tweaks and a mechanical nip and tuck improve one Aston’s V8 sports coupe

Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Road Test

Price Guide (recommended price before statutory delivery charges): $247,400

Options fitted to test car (not included in above price): Nil

Crash rating: N/A

Fuel: 98 RON PULP

Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 13.8

CO2 emissions (g/km): 321

Some admire the Aston Martin V8 Vantage for its speed; others for its sensual sculpture; and then there are those who are taken aback by its unabashed sense of style. But while the Vantage possesses all of these qualities — and indeed many more — for me the car is more than that. For me it’s all about soul.

It’s a quality that’s hard to define, but immediately recognisable. It is a quality that is rare in modern sportscars as the push to discover the limits of performance and technology place the driver, figuratively at least, in the back seat. And, in the case of the V8, it’s a quality that leaves you daydreaming and wanting for more long after you’ve returned the key.

From the time it first arrived Down Under in 2008 I’ve developed a bond of sorts with the baby Aston. And while our relationship might be best described as long-distance, our times together are cherished.

Since our last conjugal visit, the Vantage has undergone a minor nip and tuck. Aston Martin calls this evolution an “enhancement to dynamics, style and value”. But in short, it’s a new transmission, and a couple of incidental chassis and braking tweaks.

V8 Vantage models are now equipped with a seven-speed automated manual transaxle dubbed Sportshift II. Still sourced from Italian manufacturer Graziano, the transaxle replaces the previous six-speed unit adding a ratio for improved economy, and tighter gear sets for faster, cleaner shifts. The crawl function found in the six-speed unit is now obsolete, replaced instead by a Hill Start Assist program.

Married to the existing 313kW/470Nm 4.7-litre V8, the transmission is entirely smoother and much easier to live with around town. A slight release of throttle pressure summons a prompt upshift as Vantage hurries through its seven forward ratios, climbing quickly in Drive to find the most economical ratio to match your road speed.

Aston Martin Vantage

Slip into Sport mode, or better yet override the system manually, and Vantage takes on a more aggressive persona accompanied by a sonorous V8 soundtrack (thanks to an exhaust bypass valve) that’s equal measures cajoling and unapologetic.

Chassis upgrades from bigger brother Vantage S see V8 Vantage adopt quicker steering and wider tyres (+10mm), further improving the coupe’s already-tenacious road holding.

The feedback on offer through the tiller is about as good as I’ve experience anywhere outside an open-wheeler and, as a result, placement of the car can be millimetre perfect.

Larger stoppers arrest Vantage hastily. The two-piece 380mm slotted disc rotors are grabbed by six-pot calipers via a pedal tuned specifically for improved modulation. The system allows better exploitation of Vantage’s performance levels, though with our week’s drive sodden by drenching rain these were not limits I was too keen to needle.

In addition to the mechanical alterations listed, V8 Vantage also received a number of changes to its styling, subtle though they are. Inspired again by Vantage S (and in part by the limited edition N400), these include a lower front bumper with aero splitter, and larger outboard air intakes to feed the cooling system and brakes. At the rear a new diffuser is said to create “more drama and function” (though in fact it aids in sucking Vantage to the road where a boot lip spoiler would push) while at the sides, the apron panels provide a more athletic look.

Ahead of its looming replacement sometime next year, the V8 Vantage is still a sensational and beautiful sports coupe whose company will be sorely missed until next we meet.

The model will be sent off by the exotic V12 Zagato later this year… Watch this space.

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Published. Saturday, 4 August 2012

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