RANCHO SANTA FE, California — Our first glimpse of the new Aston Martin Vantage comes at the automaker’s small Southern California study. The car, appropriately lit in the office’s back garage, is draped in a silken sheet that gives the eyes just a teaser, a small taste, of the car’s proportions.
A member of Aston’s staff asks, “You ready?” Yes, yes we are.
And with a swift motion, the sheet is pulled away leaving the absolutely stunning new English sports car revealed in all its Anglo-German glory. This is the 2018 Aston Martin Vantage.
The all-new design takes inspiration from the DB10 Daniel Craig’s James Bond drove in “Spectre.” It’s low, squat, and has the sensual curves you expect an Aston Martin to have. This, however, isn’t the baby DB11 many believed Aston Martin would debut. Instead, it has its own unique style, something Aston Martin takes great pride in.
Phrases such as “pure, sculptural,” and “an athletic, predatory stance,” pepper Aston Martin’s statement on the new Vantage. After seeing it in the flesh and running our hands along its chiseled aluminum and carbon-fiber panels, we’re inclined to agree with the company’s descriptors.
Gone are many of the Vantage’s old styling cues, including the side-strake, front and rear bumpers, and hood. You can, however, still clearly tell it’s an Aston Martin from every angle. The front takes inspiration from the Aston Martin Vulcan with a large front intake that visually stretches the width of the car. The hood has a subtle bulge that accentuates the car’s sporty persona. For those looking to instantly fall madly in love with the car, just move rearward. Between the integrated upturned ducktail spoiler and the body color matching diffusor, the rear is this car’s best angle. It’s also where Aston’s design team incorporated a brake light design similar to that of the Valkyrie.
All the same, Aston Martin’s photos don’t do this car justice in terms of proportions or beauty. It’s small. Porsche 911 small. The wheelbase is miniscule, measuring at just 106.5 inches. But while that’s 10.0-inches longer than that of the 991 911, the 2018 Vantage’s overall length is 1.6-inch shorter than that of a 911 Turbo, coming in at 175.8 inches compared to the Porsche’s 177.1, and the Aston is also 1.4-inch narrower, while height is nearly identical at 50.1 inches. Weights should be similar as well; while Aston has only published a claimed dry weight of 3,373 lb for the Vantage, its curb weight should be close to the 911 Turbo’s 3,500 lb.
Power the 2018 Vantage is a twin-turbocharged, wet-sump, 4.0-liter V-8 engine lifted from Mercedes-AMG’s grab-bag of high-horsepower crate engines, which made its first appearance in an Aston earlier this year under the hood of the DB11 V8. In the Vantage, the engine generates 503 hp at 6,000 rpm and 505 lb-ft of torque between 2,000-5,000 rpm. 0-60 mph is hit within a claimed 3.6 seconds (closer to that of the 450-hp 911 GTS rather than that of the 540-hp 911 Turbo), and top speed is set at 195 mph. Additionally, the Vantage receives a new exhaust system that’s more indicative of its sportier nature. It is, for all intents and purposes, the real deal.
The engine is backed up by a carbon-fiber driveshaft that sends power through a rear mid-mounted ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic and culminates in Aston Martin’s brand-new electronically controlled differential (E-Diff), which offers a 2.93:1 final drive ratio. The electric power steering unit is also taken from the DB11, while the suspension utilizes an independent double wishbone design with a big anti-roll bar up front, and multi-link setup with coil springs and another anti-roll bar at rear. Furthermore, Aston Martin’s Adaptive Damping System with Skyhook adds three different drive modes: Sport, Sport +, and Track.
Furthering the new Vantage’s sporty nature is its heavily revised chassis, itself an evolution of the bonded aluminum structure in the DB11. 70 percent of the structure’s components are all-new for the Vantage. According to the company, to make the car sportier, “Balance, strength, rigidity, and weight efficiency were all priorities in the new Vantage design.” One part of the chassis Aston Martin paid more attention to was the rear subframe, which is now mounted on solid points for an “enhanced feeling of direct connection for the driver.” Additionally, the Vantage boasts perfect 50/50 weight distribution and its platform will serve as the base for the company’s next generation race car.
Like all Astons before it, the new Vantage will be offered with a wide range of customization options through the brand’s Q Division, including multiple choice of paint (our favorite being the Lime Essence) and interior trim (i.e. metal, wood, carbon fiber, etc). There will also be an available premium sound system.
Sliding into the car’s plush bucket seats, we felt the choice of leather perfectly lent itself to the feeling of hand-crafted. While not as opulently appointed as the DB11, the Vantage is clearly a step above the average Porsche. However, in place of more comfortable seating, the Vantage offers a driver’s cockpit complete with sport seats, racier stitching, and driver focused inputs. Everything is angled toward you and feels tight, just like a race car. The paddles feel heavily weighted for crisp shifts and the steering wheel feels slightly more compact than the Vantage’s big brother. Additionally, the pedal box is large enough even for individuals with big feet. It’s also big enough for a third pedal, which Aston Martin states is coming down the line.
Trunk space is generous under the hatchback-style roof, offering plenty of room for over-stuffed overnight bags and the requisite golf bag (ugh). Nevertheless, after spending an afternoon poking and prodding the new Aston Martin Vantage, we doubt many will be driving just to and from the range.
In terms of pricing, the car will launch with a base price of $149,995, with the first deliveries scheduled for the second quarter of 2018. In terms of production, the first year will be limited, but with how good this car looks—and how well it should drive—Porsche has reason for concern.
“It speaks volumes for the outgoing Vantage that it is the single most successful model in Aston Martin’s history,” says Aston Martin President Dr. Andy Palmer. “Creating a worthy successor has been a challenge to relish and a huge source of motivation. I’m enormously excited by what we’ve created: a new Vantage that’s more explicit in looks and intent, wrapping heart-pounding performance and dazzling dynamics into an everyday usable package. A True sports car with a sharper look and a keener dynamic edge, the new Vantage is the Aston Martin pure driving machine enthusiasts have been waiting for.”
2018 Aston Martin Vantage Specifications
|ENGINE||4.0L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/503 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 505 lb-ft @ 2,000-5,000 rpm|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe|
|EPA MILEAGE||13/21 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||175.8 x 76.5 x 50.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.6 sec|
|TOP SPEED||195 mph|