When the previous Aston Martin Vantage debuted, it was arguably one of the most beautiful cars on the road, and it retained that title for years to come. Despite this, it was still the "entry-level" Aston, and thus never starred alongside Pierce Brosnan as 007's chariot. For those who did drive it, the Vantage was hailed as a brilliant sports car that you could genuinely use every day. The current model is far more modern, yet holds on to that muscular yet sensual style of design that the Vantage is known for. Performance is vastly increased though, with an AMG-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 503 horsepower and 505 lb-ft of torque. All of this is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic, but here's the best part: a seven-speed manual is available too, much like in the benchmark Porsche 911, but unlike the Mercedes-AMG GT with which the Aston shares an engine.
Changes over the 2019 variant are small but substantial. A new braking system that incorporates carbon-ceramic rotors is now available, but the big news is the arrival of the AMR variant - a lighter and more engaging manual-only version that is limited to 200 units. As part of the AMR selection, 59 extra-special Vantage 59 models are offered too, with special livery commemorating the 1959 Le Mans season. While it may seem unfortunate that all of these are already sold out, it means that the regular Vantage can now be specced with a manual.
See trim levels and configurations:
The body is sculpted in such a way that everything looks both aggressive and attractive. The new design direction makes everything look even lower and wider than it already is, with narrow LED headlights and a gaping signature front grille. Fender vents feature too, with more aggressive styling here for the AMR variants. 20-inch wheels are standard across the range, but the real drama is at the back, where a massive diffuser houses quad-exit exhaust tips, and a continuous taillight spans the width of the rear, flowing into an integrated duckbill spoiler.
As we've mentioned above, this is one wide and low car. Width, excluding the extended mirrors, measures 76.5 inches, while the stance keeps the car at a shockingly low 50.1 inches. As a six-footer, that means the roof barely goes past my waist. Length is considerable, but not excessive, measuring 175.8 inches, with a wheelbase of 106.5 inches. The dry weight (without fluids) starts at 3,373 pounds on a regular, automatic Vantage when equipped with lightweight options, but thanks to lighter brakes and a standard manual gearbox that also weighs less, the AMR variant weighs 209 lbs less, despite being fitted with more standard equipment.
As you'd expect from a low-volume British sports car manufacturer, choices on the color of your vehicle are expansive. If you were one of the lucky few to get one of the first models, your Vantage 59 would have arrived in Stirling Green with Lime accents. The other 141 AMR models were available in a choice of Sabiro Blue, China Grey, Onyx Black, or White Stone. The regular Vantage has far more options, however, with two palettes to choose from. The AM palette offers 30 colors, with various blues, grays, reds, and greens. You can also have colors like Yellow Tang, Cinnabar Orange, Lime Essence, and Kopi Bronze. Then there's the Q palette, which offers six colors fewer. This palette has much more vibrant shades, with Kermit Green, Cosmos Orange, Elwood Blue, Scopus Red, and Royal Indigo. Which is best? Well, that's a tough choice, but we'd likely opt for something from the Q range, most likely Spirit Silver. We may also purchase a bespoke tuxedo to effectively live out the James Bond fantasy.
If you want the fastest or the quickest of a certain type of car, you generally have to get the limited-run models. Not so in the case of the Vantage. Here, the regular Vantage is the quickest accelerating version. It gets from 0-60 mph in just 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 195 mph. While the AMR versions have the same top speed, the manual transmission fitted to these results in a slightly slower 0-60 sprint time of 3.9 seconds. It's not all about the gearbox though - torque is limited to 295 lb-ft in the first two gears, as a stronger gearbox would have added too much weight. The overall torque figure also drops from 505 lb-ft in the regular Vantage to 461 in AMR models. Power remains the same, with all 2020 Vantage models producing 503 hp from their 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. The Mercedes-AMG GT, a car that shares the same engine, produces only 469 hp, although it's worth noting that the AMG GT R produces 577 hp for just a little more cash. A near-perfect weight balance of 50:50 on the regular Vantage helps the car prove itself in the corners, as does a standard electronic limited-slip differential, helping you keep the rear end where you want it.
The engine in every 2020 Aston Martin Vantage is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 from Mercedes-AMG. Aston could no longer afford to develop nor justify the naturally aspirated V8 or V12 engine, thanks to emissions and rising overheads. Of all the companies they could have chosen, opting for the one that also supplies marques like Pagani Automobili is a guaranteed recipe for success. The engine produces an impressive 503 hp and up to 505 lb-ft of torque in the regular model, while the AMR variants are limited to 461 lb-ft of torque. Throttle response is good, and the Vantage behaves like a slingshot out the gate, with a low-down rumble increasing to a wailing crescendo - an impressive feat considering how muffling turbochargers can be.
An eight-speed ZF automatic controls ratios in the standard Vantage, and it's well-tuned, with Sport, Sport+, and Track modes providing progressively sharper responses. In the most laidback Sport mode, however, downshifts can be a fraction too slow, but overall, this is a refined transmission that reacts well to your inputs. Optionally available on the regular Vantage and standard on the AMR variants is a seven-speed manual. Not just any manual, mind you. This is a Graziano dog-leg and it's sublimely notchy with a well-weighted gear-lever encouraging you to shift. Even with the manual, a launch control feature is included, and you get AMSHIFT, a program that allows for flat-foot upshifting for full-throttle changes, maximizing acceleration potential. On the way down, the same software blips the throttle for smoother deceleration and corner entry. Nevertheless, you still feel a part of the car, fully immersed in what is going on around you - and if you're hardcore, you can switch the system off and manage your own heel-and-toe actions.
Aston Martin makes a bit of a fracas about the fact that the Vantage has near-perfect weight distribution as a result of a front-mid-mounted engine and a rear-mounted gearbox. They have every right to be proud of this though, not just from a packaging standpoint but because the result is a brilliant experience in the corners. That balance is clear to feel, and you can push hard into corners with no surprises. The Pirelli tires offer phenomenal grip, but if you want to hang the tail out and indulge your inner hooligan, the Vantage will oblige. Once the rear has broken loose, the feeling of control is managed almost exclusively by your right foot. Want more angle? Put your foot down harder. Want to straighten up? Lift off slightly and you'll be pulled straight.
Granted, the car isn't perfect, as the electric steering is short on feel, but it's still exceptionally accurate and responsive. When it's time to calm down, the brakes do an excellent job of bringing the car to a halt, but we'd avoid the available carbon-ceramics as these are a bit too grabby for daily traffic scenarios. In terms of ride comfort, even the softest setting for the standard adaptive dampers are a little stiffer than you'd like, but they're not unbearable. Overall, this is a car you drive hard and one that rewards you for doing so, but it can be made to be reasonably domesticated if you don't mind feeling the occasional large bump.
The Vantage is surprisingly efficient considering the output of its V8, returning official EPA estimates of 18/24/20 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. With a 19.2-gallon gas tank, estimated range with mixed driving is expected to be around 384 miles. This refers to the automatic variant, as no figures have been published for a Vantage with the manual option, but we don't expect much of a drop in economy there.
The interior of the Vantage is a stunning place to sit, with far more space than the relatively small proportions may suggest. What really smacks you in the face, however, is how well-resolved everything looks. Controls are well laid-out, the leather is sumptuous, and the contrasting colors that can be equipped are both eye-catching and tasteful. This is a car that maintains a black-tie-event level of class while still showing off modernity and aggression. Heated and ventilated seats are available, and the eight-inch infotainment display may not be touch-activated, but it looks great. The available glass controls are another notable highlight, blending modern style with classic Aston nostalgia.
The Aston Martin Vantage is a strict two-seater rather than a four-seater with useless rear seats. Instead, you can use the area behind the seats for additional storage. Whether you're tall or short, the seats offer plenty of range for adjustment, but it can be tricky getting in and out, thanks to the low roof. Beyond that, comfort and support are provided in equal measure and the driving position is great, with good spacing of the pedals and a chunky but tactile steering wheel. 16-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated sport seats are available, but even the regular perches are easy to acclimatize to. Overall, this car wants you to feel a part of it and it succeeds without making you feel claustrophobic.
Strathmore leather is the most popular material in the Vantage's cabin, with the premium hide covering the seats, the doors, the center console, and the dash. Traditional colors like Obsidian Black, Oxford Tan, and Bitter Chocolate are available, but the more adventurous can opt for wilder colors like Cote D'Azur Blue, Californian Poppy, Vivid Red, or Indigo Blue. Naturally, Alcantara also features along with varying colors for the contrast stitching, and you can spec carbon fiber, aluminum, and even glass for various components.
This isn't the type of car designed to be an ultimate grand tourer, a fact evidenced by the lack of information provided by Aston for cargo space. While we're pretty sure there's a trunk back there and it can hold some carry-on luggage, official capacity figures have not been provided.
In the cabin, you can fit extra luggage behind the seats, and a pair of cupholders are provided in the center console. A spot for your phone is also offered, while the door pockets are large enough for wallets and keys. The glovebox, however, is typically small.
As a relatively low-volume sports car, the Vantage is not extremely heavily laden with comfort and convenience features, but you do get dual-zone automatic climate control and LED lights as standard. Heated seats are available, but not included, but the Vantage is equipped with keyless ignition, a digital driver info display, and parking sensors at the front and the rear. Adaptive suspension dampers, launch control, and an electronic limited-slip differential are included too, while the available equipment includes ventilated seats, keyless entry, blind-spot monitoring, cruise control, and an automatic parking system. A 360-degree surround-view camera is also available.
Aston Martin's infotainment system is a bit of a conundrum. It looks good on the surface, with the eight-inch LCD display visualizing attractive graphics and decent response times. It's also good looking, but functions are generally controlled by a Mercedes-like touchpad and the menus can be confusing. In addition to not offering touchscreen capability, it doesn't offer Android Auto. That could be acceptable if Apple CarPlay was included, but only "iPod and iPhone integration" feature alongside Bluetooth and USB connections. At least navigation is standard along with a six-speaker sound system that can be upgraded to a premium audio setup, which is thrown in on the AMR models.
The 2020 Aston Martin Vantage has thus far been free of recalls, although the 2019 variant was subject to a single recall in November of last year, for improperly tightened airbag fasteners.
In terms of coverage, Aston Martin provides buyers of the Vantage with three years of basic and drivetrain coverage with no mileage limit. A ten-year/unlimited mileage corrosion warranty is included too, as well as two years of roadside assistance.
Cars like the Vantage are generally not subjected to crash tests, usually due to the high cost of building them. The Vantage has a number of safety features but not much in the way of advanced driver aids. Nevertheless, it is unlikely to be considered unsafe.
The focus in most Astons, with the exception of their "passenger cars" is on performance, and the Vantage therefore only has dual frontal and side-impact airbags, a rearview camera, and parking sensors at the front and the back as standard. Available safety features are similarly limited, with just blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view camera, and an automatic parking system offered.
Is the Vantage a good car? Well, you can get it with a manual gearbox, so these days, that's an automatic yes, particularly if the car in question is sporting in nature with performance as its focus. But let's recap. The trunk is practically non-existent, the infotainment system is lacking for features and general usability, and there really isn't much in the way of advanced driver aids. That said, we have to remember that this is a sports car, not a crossover. So as a sports car, this thing needs to shine, and shine it does. The throttle response is good, and the acceleration is visceral, but the way this car handles corners is what sets it apart. It dances with elegance and has the kind of poise that you'd expect from a brand that supplies the most charming and composed secret agent ever depicted. The steering is direct, and the feel of that notchy Graziano gearbox is worth every penny. Good enough for Bond? Certainly. Good enough for us? Absolutely.
The Aston Martin Vantage is available in three variants, with the most expensive being the first to go on sale. This is the Vantage 59 special edition, and its starting price is $204,995. Regular AMR Vantage models, of which there are 141, cost $179,995, while the one you can still buy today, the "base" Vantage, costs $152,995. Fully loaded, we expect you to be able to match the price of the Vantage 59, if not exceed it. All models carry a destination charge of $3,086, along with an acquisition fee of $1,195.
Three variants of the Aston Martin Vantage have been released for 2020: Vantage, Vantage AMR Hero, and Vantage AMR 59 Edition. All are powered by an AMG-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 503 hp, all of which is sent to the rear wheels.
The standard Vantage is the one that all other models are based on, and it develops 505 lb-ft of torque and is equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard. A seven-speed manual transmission is also available, but torque is limited with this gearbox, topping out at 461 lb-ft. With the auto, the Vantage can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 195 mph. Standard features include adaptive suspension, front and rear parking sensors, 20-inch wheels, an electronic limited-slip differential, dual-zone climate control, and a six-speaker sound system.
The Vantage AMR Hero is the first of two AMR models and features unique color schemes, forged wheels, carbon composite brakes, and 16-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated seats. A manual gearbox is the only option here, but you also get an upgraded sound system, keyless entry, blind-spot monitoring, a 360-degree camera, an automatic parking system, and glass switchgear. Since it only comes with a manual, the sprint from 0-60 mph is dispatched a little slower, in 3.9 seconds, but top speed remains the same.
The Vantage AMR 59 Edition is an ultra-limited model, with only 59 units being produced. Little differentiates this model from the AMR Hero beyond its appearance, which is characterized by Stirling Green and Lime paint and unique decals.
The base Vantage doesn't have access to much, but you can spec it with the aforementioned manual gearbox. You can also opt for ventilated seats. The Exterior Black Collection is a package that is also available, and it adds a matte black front grille, window surround, and tailpipes. Carbon ceramic brakes can also be specced here, and you can get other packages that include the Tech Collection, with its auto parking system and blind-spot monitoring. Heated seats can also be added as a standalone option.
Since all 200 AMR variants are already sold out, you don't have much choice in the matter of which model to go for. The regular Vantage is your only option, but you can spec it in much the same way as an AMR. We'd forgo the carbon-ceramic brakes, however, and rather spend on heated and ventilated seats. We'd also opt for the Tech package with its blind-spot monitoring and automatic parking system. Of course, we would be remiss to skip past the option for the manual gearbox, since it's so engaging, fun, and exciting to use. Further than that, appearance options can be selected to taste.
No Aston Martin is cheap, but the Vantage is the most affordable in the range. So should you spend a little more and get the DB11? This starts at just under $200,000 and is also powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo AMG V8. Power output is identical at 503 hp but torque rises from 505 lb-ft in the Vantage to 513 lb-ft in the DB11. To be fair, the DB11 is more in line with the James Bond way, and since you can have it with a 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12, it fits better with Aston's heritage too. This powerplant produces a whopping 630 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, but you pay a $40,000 premium for this. So why choose the DB11? Well, it's a more comfortable vehicle; it's a GT for us, the fun factor of the Vantage, its shorter wheelbase, lighter mass, and excellent handling draw us in, but the DB11 with its usable trunk is worth considering too.
There used to be a saying that, if you couldn't get a proper Aston, you'd wait for the next Jaguar sports car to come out and you'd end up with something very similar. But times have changed, and each brand is distinctly different from the other. One thing remains the same, though: You have to get the most expensive Jag sports car to almost be in the same price bracket as the cheapest Aston. Here, that Jag is the F-Type SVR. With a 5.0-liter supercharged V8, the Jag produces 575 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. However, we can't jump to the conclusion that the Jaguar is a better car. Its ride is horrendously harsh, and you can no longer get a Jag with a manual. The car also distributes its power among all four wheels, making it arguably less fun. At the end of the day, however, it's a simple decision. Do you want an expensive Jaguar or would you rather live out your 007 fantasy in a real Aston Martin? We'll take that shaken Martini now.
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