2009 Aston Martin Vantage V8

Andrew Trahan

The V8 Vantage performs incredibly well, but that's not why I adore it so much. The Aston's appeal is an emotional one. It makes you feel like a rock star, it inspires you to love life.

Not just because of the way it turns heads. Granted, the gorgeous shape is a big factor in my affection, but the body is also an integral aspect of the car's aggressive stance, which, thanks to its engine placement behind the front axle and the rear transaxle, contributes so much to the Aston's nimble, well-balanced (but ultimately not class-leading) handling.

The interior is downright sensual. The cabin has so many luscious details: the leather-covered forward door frames curling up from the wide aluminum-covered rocker panels; the incredibly well-wrought sun visors, cupholders, and center console (all of which are too delicately small to be very useful, but who cares?); the thick white stitching in the supple black leather, which is everywhere you look, not just in the form-fitting chairs; the awesome Alcantara headliner that's thickly padded and feels great.

The paddle-shifted, automated manual transmission loves to bang off hard, crisp upshifts when you're working it hard, but the gearbox seems to protest with sluggish shifts when you put it in "D" and try to drive like a sane person. The best way to maneuver smoothly around town is to work the paddles as you would a stick shift, lifting your foot off the gas between shifts.

I'll even forgive the Volvo window switches, because they open the cabin to the gentlemanly roar of the 420-hp, 4.7-liter V-8. Exercising this engine, and this car, is truly invigorating. I really, really want one. If I were to win the lottery tomorrow, the first car I'd buy would definitely be an Aston Martin coupe. The most difficult question would be which one?

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

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To me this is the best Aston Martin. If the DB9 is the elegant sports GT, this is the compact sport CAR. The compactness gives it a more purposeful look. This is the "if I can only have one car" for me.

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