Motoring writer IAN LAMMING crooks his little finger to experience a very British supercar…
THIS could be a very short report as there is no need for words; just take a look at Aston Martin’s new Vantage.
Enough said? Well, if you do press me to share this quintessentially British sports car, then I will, pausing only to pop in a monocle and slip into a pair of tan brogues.
Staring across the soaking wet car park, squinting through the deluge of rain, the job is done. Vantage is one of three new models launched recently and its sheer vibrancy is an indication of a new direction of travel for Aston Martin.
With looks and proportions like this there is little need to actually drive the car, but I will. It could be powered by a Dyson hairdryer, I wouldn’t care, because this thing is a sculpture, a blessed work of art, to be placed lovingly on a plinth, in a glass case or on a manicured lawn, to be viewed and appreciated for its form and beauty.
As Aston Martins go it is totally radical, the signature grille lowered to almost the ground in a contemporary twist that has shocked and delighted in equal measure. From the front it is daisy-cutting low, a smile wide and booty curvaceous.
Side on it is sculpted with huge wheels and next to no overhangs and from the rear, possibly it’s most attractive angle, it has swoopy LEDs across the beams, a veritable wave of light that accentuates the pronounced flick in its tail.
Inside is a statement of intent too. It says ‘we have been around some time and boast great heritage but we are serious contenders ready to challenge all-comers in the future’.
So the boardroom corporate quality of leather and hand stitching, the easy to use buttons which line the transmission tunnel and the Aston Martin moniker that winks from steering wheel hub and seats sit happily with hi-tech infotainment and the ability to change the dynamics from a switch on the steering wheel.
There is no hairdryer under the bonnet of course. Instead there is a rasping 4.0 twin-turbo V8, a veritable power factory manufacturing 503hp and 685Nm of torque. It spews forth in a relentless surge of muscle, passing through an eight-speed ZF box, hurling Vantage to 62mph in just 3.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 195mph.
Yet its electronic differential makes it a breeze to pilot around town and more enjoyable on the track.
The aforementioned switch on the chunky, squarish steering wheel changes modes from sport, to sport+, to track hinting at this car’s raison d’etre. You could quite easily leave it in sport, the + adds more aggressive throttle and gearshift responses and heightens the sound. Surprisingly track knocks the throttle back to sport to give the driver more control.
Similarly, the suspension can be tailored to mood and conditions. Whichever setting is chosen leaves the driver feeling empowered and in control. For the track, where they are being encouraged to go, owners can also specify high performance ceramic brakes and wailing tailpipes.
When engineering dynamics manager Ian Hartley was an apprentice with Aston Martin almost 30 years ago the factory was little more than a cottage industry producing a couple of cars a week, the rainwater pouring through the leaky roof and covering the nuts and bolts in the process.
Since then it has changed hands a few times and when it was grasped by the current CEO Andy Palmer in 2014 it developed a 21stcentury vision to put it on the front row of the grid as well as the London Stock Market.
Seven new cars in seven years was to be the key to success and sustainability and the Vantage is pivotal in the resurgence of the brand.
Also on the cards is a 715hp DBS Super GT, the DBX – an Aston Martin SUV for goodness sake – a zero emission super-luxurious Lagonda and a hypercar in the Valkyrie, bringing total production to a capped 14,000 cars a year to be sold globally.
Special projects include the Vanquish, Speedster and Shooting-brake, the classic DB4 GT and DB5 Bond car (which comes complete with bulletproof glass and ejector seat, no doubt, for those obsessed with 007).
The rejuvenated brand even extends to a £4m submarine for your super-yacht, the AM37 speedboat and luxury Aston Martin apartments in Miami.
Vantage is luxury lifestyle personified; for Aston Martin a relatively flamboyant embodiment of an exciting vision. It’s no longer prepared to be the well tailored but plain suit of the pack, the bowler hat and brolly of the gentlemen’s club. Emboldened, it is now wearing a new shiny suit and is shouting its intentions to the world.
Aston Martin Vantage
Engine: 4.0 twin turbo litre V8
0-62mph: 3.6 secs
Top speed: 195mph
Combined MPG: 27.4
Transmission: eight-speed ZF auto
CO2 g/km: 236