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 in standard guise, or up to 527 hp in the Vantage F1 Edition. All of this is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic, but unlike in the benchmark Porsche 911, the manual gearbox has been discontinued this year.
There are a couple of new wheel designs and interior styles to choose from, adding to an already wide scope for customization. Unfortunately, the sad news this year is that the previously available manual transmission has been discontinued
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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.
Is the Vantage a good car? A year ago, we said that the Vantage's manual gearbox automatically qualified it for a "yes" to that question. But do we have the same opinion of the Vantage now that the manual is gone? Yes, but there are a few downsides that come with a sports car like this one. 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 although we miss the manual, this is still a wonderful car. Good enough for Bond? Certainly. Good enough for us? Absolutely
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. The DB11 is a little more powerful in base form but both are similarly rapid. And, while the DB11 was unique with the option of its V12, a V12-engined Vantage is on the way soon. 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. At around $70,000, the F-Type starts at a much lower price point, but you can spend over $100,000 on the more powerful F-Type R. It makes 567 hp from its supercharged V8 and sounds glorious, and it will match the Vantage up to 60 mph. There are some disappointing facets to the Jag, though. With AWD, it isn't as pure or as fun to drive as the Aston, and the ride quality is unnecessarily harsh. Besides that, the Jaguar name isn't quite up there with Aston Martin. 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.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Aston Martin Vantage Coupe: