Like “jumbo shrimp,” “genuine imitation,” and “true fiction,” “affordable Aston Martin” sounds like a lame marketing come-on. But it’s the owners of the new and sharply discounted 2015 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT who may be getting the last laugh.
Priced at $99,900 (plus $2825 destination), the GT is $18,500 less than a comparably equipped Vantage V8 and $32,500 less than the top-of-the-line S model. Better still, Aston Martin achieved these savings by providing more rather than less -- 10 more horsepower, 15 more lb-ft of torque, and a more sporting character showcased on a picturesque route through Germany’s Eifel forest.
On roads that echo the challenges posed by the epic Nordschleife racetrack nearby, the 2015 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT is a more athletic grand tourer than bulked-up sports car (though it’s worth mentioning that lightly modified Vantages earned podium finishes in class in the latest edition of the Nürburgring 24 Hours). And, yes, detractors can correctly point out that the bonded aluminum chassis debuted back in 2005, which is eons in car years.
But the Vantage is mature rather than archaic, and it continues to age gracefully. The sheetmetal—which actually incorporates loads of aluminum, magnesium, and carbon fiber—is among the loveliest in the car business, and the interior is a happy blend of old-world craftsmanship, luxe materials, and contemporary ergonomics.
Although figures such as 430 horsepower and 361 lb-ft of torque are no longer stop-the-presses material, the 4.7-liter V-8 is able to propel the car to 190 miles per hour, and it makes stirring noises while revving to 7300 rpm. This is very much a manly man’s machine—Daniel Craig’s rather than Roger Moore’s Aston Martin—that responds best to firm and decisive inputs to the steering wheel, throttle pedal, and six-speed manual gearbox.
The 2015 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT shows its heft in tight switchbacks; it is, after all, a two-seater weighing nearly 3600 pounds. But it gobbles up miles of flawless German pavement at a prodigious pace, and the car excels on fast sweepers where the chassis takes a satisfying set on the firm but compliant suspension and you can confidently feed in throttle until the 19-inch Bridgestone Potenzas start whimpering. Brilliant stuff.
Aston Martin held the line on price largely by speccing the GT with a limited choice of equipment. There are only five standard colors, for instance. Cockpit-adjustable damper settings aren’t offered. (A “comfort” suspension is optional.) An automatic seven-speed transmission—technically an automated manual—is an upgrade, and it’s available only in single-clutch form, which makes the GT an outlier in an exotic-car universe populated mostly by more sophisticated dual-clutch gearboxes.
Still, you never get the sense that Aston Martin cheaped out to hit a price point. The engine is shared with the upmarket S model instead of the less powerful non-GT Vantage. A sport exhaust comes standard. A grippy Alcantara steering wheel is a no-cost option. The cockpit is full of thoughtful touches—accent colors, seat inserts, interior trim—that cleverly create the illusion of bespoke design.
The 2015 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT is Aston Martin’s smallest, sportiest, and least expensive model. It’s competing against a field full of faster cars, flashier cars, and cars that embody a more impressive array of technology. But the timeless styling, normally aspirated engine, and traditional manual transmission imbue the Aston with plenty of old-school charm. And for $100K, no other manufacturer can offer the GT’s winning combination of performance, pedigree, and panache.
2015 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT Specifications
|Transmissions:||6-speed manual, 7-speed single-clutch automatic|
|Fuel Economy:||13/19 mpg, 14/21 mpg (manual, automatic)|
Editor's note: These photos are of the U.S. spec car. The author drove a Euro spec model, which is virtually identical short of a few cosmetic tweaks.