Yes, it's more powerful, but it's also way more engaging and finally has a proper infotainment system.
Following the new DB12, the new Aston Martin Vantage has been revealed as the second model in a completely revamped Aston lineup intended to return the brand to its past glory.
The fundamentals are largely unchanged, with a carryover chassis sporting a Mercedes-AMG-sourced V8 with two turbos and a 4.0-liter displacement. But much like the DB12, every aspect of the Vantage has been revised, so much so that this is as good as a new model. Not only that, but Aston Martin says this is its most driver-focused model in the Vantage nameplate's illustrious 74-year history, which dates back to 1950 when the Vantage was an engine upgrade package for the DB2.
Boldly, Aston Martin proclaims the new car as a leader in the front-engine sports car segment, which includes the likes of the Mercedes-AMG GT (which is 80 horsepower shy of the Vantage) and Ferrari Roma.
As before, an AMG-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo engine propels the Vantage, but it's seen a steroidal power increase of 153 horsepower and 85 lb-ft of torque over the previous model, representing increases of 30% and 15%, respectively. The final figures rest at 656 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 590 lb-ft between 2,750 and 6,000 rpm.
These figures were achieved by in-house development of the motor (its original engineer was poached by AM when Tobias Moers was still in charge) and features revised cam profiling bigger turbos, increased cooling, and optimized compression ratios. More power generates extra heat, so Aston redesigned the cooling with additional radiators and larger oil coolers.
Power is routed to the rear axle via a ZF-sourced eight-speed transaxle automatic gearbox, with a shorter final drive ratio and revised shift programming (along with a new launch control program) contributing to a 3.4-second 0-60 mph time, while the new Vantage will top out at 202 mph.
A bonded aluminum chassis has been strengthened over the model it replaces, with underbody bracing to increase its torsional rigidity. Various connection points have been strengthened, like those for the front double wishbone suspension and a stiffer but lighter front engine cross brace.
The rear of the car is 29% stiffer during cornering, which has allowed Aston to refine the damper mountings for better feedback, aided by refined steering Aston claims gives the driver more feedback. Said steering is still electronically power-assisted (EPAS), but now features a non-isolated steering column for a greater sense of connection, despite variable speed-sensitive assistance. This variability pares back the power assistance as you work through the driving modes, with the most aggressive (Track) mode featuring the least assistance to create a flow of information Aston describes as "granular in detail and pleasingly tactile." Sounds juicy.
At each corner, 21-inch forged alloy wheels (available in three designs) wear bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport S 5 tires. Up front, these measure 275/35 in profile, while the rears are considerably chunkier at 325/30.
The brakes are standard cast iron items (400mm front and 360mm rear), acted upon by six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers with revised boosting for more communication. Carbon ceramic brakes (CCB) are available as an option, reducing unsprung mass by 59.5 lbs. In its lightest form, it tips the scales at 3,538 lbs dry.
The electronic systems in the new Vantage support the hardware in a way Aston says rewards skilled drivers without intimidating novice ones. Using a six-axis accelerometer and a variety of other systems, paired with the standard E-diff (which can go from zero to full lock in 135 milliseconds), the car compares a virtual model of its behavior to Integrated Vehicle Dynamics Estimation (IVE) parameters, thereafter letting the ESP rein in your hooliganism through adjustments to the suspension, steering, engine, and brakes to ensure optimal handling.
A brand new adjustable traction control (ATC) system features nine levels of engagement, allowing various amounts of slip-'n'-slide action for drivers of various skill levels. Aston's release materials emphatically claim that the ESP systems may be a requirement for safety, but they've been actively engineered to enhance the driving experience and promote a greater sense of interaction between driver and machine.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that, but the new Vantage isn't as subtly beautiful as Astons of yore, is it? And no, you're not imagining the Aston Martin One-77 influence, either, which chief designer Marek Reichman says was a source of inspiration.
It's all very familiar, but there have been several proportional changes leading to its muscly, roided-out look. These include a 1.18-inch increase in body width (look at those rear arches) and a redesigned front end with a veined grille measuring 38% bigger than before. This routes 29% more airflow through to that enhanced engine, while new air curtains at the outboard edges of the front bumper divert cold air to the brakes and emphasize the width of the Vantage. A new front splitter reduces lift, but the finishing touch is a new Matrix LED headlight design with a new Aston Martin DRL signature.
Each flank features the return of the Aston side strake, a prominent vent aft of the front wheel arches, and integrated door handles that present upon approach. The rear is wider and features larger diameter quad exhausts, because bigger is always better.
Thank the car gods, Aston Martin has ditched the old Mercedes COMAND-based infotainment for the in-house-developed platform that debuted in the DB12 last year. Featuring an integrated 10.25-inch touchscreen display, its connectivity options support Android and iOS connectivity, but the system also retains physical controls for important mechanical aspects and climate control, and manual override switches for the stability control, exhaust, chassis, lane keep assist, and park sensors - because your eyes should be on your surroundings, not a screen, to find basic controls.
Integrated 3D navigation with online connectivity and What3Words functionality make navigation easier, while a 4G LTE connection keeps the Vantage online wherever you are. You can also connect via a mobile app to stay connected with your car on the go. Various sound systems are available, from a base setup with 11 speakers and 390 watts to a 1,170W system with 15 speakers from Bowers & Wilkins.
As for the design, its evolution centers around the new integrated screen, with the dash now accommodating narrow air vents and supple materials, like Bridge of Weir leather.
Yes, you can choose a variety of customization and luxury options, but Aston Martin seems to have realized in the era of the EV, speed isn't everything for a combustion sports car. The release materials focus very little on outright figures and choose instead to highlight driver engagement at every turn, much like McLaren did with the launch of the 750S.
"As we enter a period of pivotal change in the world of high-performance cars it is essential to remain true to those qualities upon which a legendary marque has been built," explains Aston Martin CEO Amedeo Felisa - who may soon be replaced. "Class-leading power and speed establish its credentials, but it is through expert application of the latest technologies to the Vantage's perfectly balanced front-engine rear-drive chassis that we have created a sports car with addictive capability. Together with assertive styling, all-new interior and state-of-the-art infotainment, Vantage is world-class in every respect."
Production begins this quarter, but deliveries start in Q2 of 2024.