With a new era being ushered in thanks to a partnership with Mercedes Benz, the newly re-energized Aston Martin is keen on reinventing itself, and has followed up on the recent unveiling of the DB11 with perhaps the most important offering yet, the 2018 Aston Martin Vantage.
The previous generation Vantage was a lingering spectre of the old Aston Martin with an aging platform, V8 engine, and a fussy semi-automated manual relegating the otherwise handsome Vantage to the back of the sports car line. In short, it was like a hipster wearing Abercrombie and Fitch in a sea of Ralph Lauren and Louis Vitton shoes, though the V12 was a welcome and notable exception, especially in manual guise.
Aston designers aimed to completely eradicate this dated image, and have put all their chips on the table when it came to crafting the Vantage’s revamped suit of clothes. Like the original’s Fisker penned bodywork, the new Vantage embraces simplicity, but adds more curves, creases, and sculptured DB10 inspired elements that ramp up its stylish profile for a new generation of sports car buyers. Aerodynamic efficiency also played a huge role in the Vantage’s development, and the beefier front splitter channels air underneath the car, where a series of fences and channels feeds it to the rear diffuser, which helps generate more downforce to keep the Vantage planted in sharp turns.
The biggest change however is found in the interior. Like the exterior, Aston Martin engineers had their work cut out for them in updating it to current technological and styling trends. The ancient and woefully inadequate Volvo based navigation system has been put out to pasture, and a slicker Mercedes derived unit takes its place. With its sharper clarity, as well as its quicker inputs, look for this system to finally allow the Vantage to truly be on par with its German and Italian rivals. A lowered seating position aims to make the driving experience more immersive, with the iconic glass buttons for the transmission being moved to the center stack in a triangle layout. A combination of rotary and tactile buttons reduces clutter, and more storage space should make the Vantage a bit more practical than its predecessor ever was.
However, Astons are truly known for what lies underneath the elegantly crafted hood, and the 2018 Vantage certainly does not disappoint in this key category. The old Jaguar derived 4.7 liter V8 gets sacked for an all new 4.0 liter biturbo V8 sourced from AMG. The slight decrease in displacement fails to reign in the fun with the new engine producing 503 horsepower, a sizable gain over the 4.7 liter. The engine is placed lower, and farther back than before to help optimize the car’s center of gravity, as well as bestow the Vantage with a perfect 50:50 weight distribution.
All of this muscle is channeled to the rear wheels through an all new eight speed ZF sourced automatic which allows the Vantage to claw its way to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds before topping out at 195 mph. Look for this change to eliminate the flypaper-esque shifting behavior that defined all three iterations of the outgoing Sportshift semi-automated manual (arguably my biggest gripe about every Vantage I ever drove). Currently, Aston claims that a V12 will not be offered partially because they are not sure if the engine will fit in it (we’ll see about that.) In the more immediate side of things, a suite of electronic aides helps keep drivers in full control, and they include Dynamic Stability Control as well as Dynamic Torque Vectoring control.
The 2018 Aston Martin Vantage is currently on sale now with deliveries expected to begin in late 2018. Meanwhile look for the U.S. market to wait a bit longer for our taste of the Vantage’s vigor, with the sleek two door wielding a base price of $149,995. We look forward to perhaps sampling the 2018 Vantage in a future review, to truly see if it can bring the model back to relevance in the sports car segment.
In the meantime, our very own editor-in-chief Tom Burkart has unleashed his artistic side with some potential Vantage hues that could serve as inspiration for the Vantage of your dreams.