Aston Martin is finally ready to be competitive again.
Aston Martin cars have always been creations of beauty, but when you stacked the numbers against the competition, they never really came out ahead. The naturally aspirated V8 and V12 engines that the company used sounded glorious, but they were sluggish compared to the competition. Likewise, Aston Martin interiors always had a luxurious vibe, but were years behind in terms of technology. Luckily, Aston Martin finally recognized its shortcomings with the new DB11, and has just brought out its second new model in the AMG era, the Vantage.
The DB11 took a huge step forward in terms of power with a new twin-turbo V12. The naturally aspirated V12 that has been around since the Ford ownerships days is finally gone, replaced by a 5.2-liter unit with 600 hp. There is also a 4.0-liter V8 version borrowed from Mercedes-AMG. This is the same engine that will be used in the Vantage and is also shared with several models from the AMG division. We fell in love with this engine when it first debuted in the AMG GT, a two-seat sports car that is remarkably similar in size to the new Vantage. The Vantage may share an engine with the AMG GT, but the two cars share little else in common other than their overall size and shape.
It seems a bit odd that Mercedes would lend its engines out to a car that competes in the same category as one of its models. The new Vantage produces 510 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque. That's a significant bump over the old 4.7-liter V8, which only produced 430 hp and 361 lb-ft of torque. Not only does this put it right on par with the AMG GT, but the Vantage finally competes well with other cars in the segment. This includes everything from the new Lexus LC500, to the Porsche 911. The $100,000 to $150,000 sports coupe segment has been heating up in recent years, and should get even more crowded with the upcoming BMW 8 Series and Polestar 1.
Now that the Vantage has been significantly updated, the Maserati Grand Turismo is the last car in the six-figure price segment that fells horribly out of date. Aston Martin has also borrowed the electronics from Mercedes, which should give the new Vantage a much more usable interior. The infotainment is controlled via the Mercedes COMMAND knob, which is on par with many of the best systems on the market. The interface on the old Vantage was far from intuitive and was in dire need of an update. The interior looks a bit like the AMG GT, but Aston Martin has given the Vantage its own unique flavor, both inside and out.
The exterior styling is where Aston Martin may have lost some people. While it hasn't really been a huge complaint for us, Aston Martin cars have looked the same for about a decade now. People always whine that Porsche never changes the 911, but somehow Aston Martin got away with designing the same car for well over a decade. The DB11 and Vantage are both huge departures over the cars they replace. The DB11 took a bit of time to get used to, and we think that the Vantage will as well. The front grill design is unorthodox and the rear end is a completely fresh design. We have no doubts that Aston was targeting younger, less restrained buyers with the new Vantage.
We will be curious to see if this Aston Martin can be as big of a revolution as the old Vantage was when it was first revealed. The Vantage may have lost a bit of its luster with age, but it stood as an interesting alternative for someone who didn't want to be the 15th guy at the golf course with a Porsche 911. We'll have to see if Aston delivers on its promise to offer this car with a manual transmission, which should put it in rarified company in this segment. The 911 is one of the only cars in the space to still be offered with a manual, but it will soon lose that distinction when the AMG-powered Vantage arrives in dealers.