Aston Martin Vantage V8 Vantage Roadster
Stunning Vantage is enhanced by folding fabric roof
- Stunning design has barely aged at all
- Responsive and glorious-sounding V8 engine
- Impressive combination of ride and handling
- First class image
- Some cabin elements feel a little tired
- Clutch can be hard work in slow traffic
- Handsome alloy are prone to kerbing
- High running costs are inevitable
Aston's long-serving Vantage model has been upgraded for the 2013 model year, and a constant stream of improvements over its life span means it is a substantial different car from the original model that appeared in 2005. Despite this it is still recognisably an Aston Martin with a sporting feel.
The Vantage range has benefitted from a series of enhancements and detail improvements to build on its existing talents and deliver even more of the thrills of the original car. The Vantage S model that appeared two years ago was the first step on this path, bringing with it a more powerful engine, a more aggressive chassis set up and visual enhancements designed to maximise the strength of the original design. Now the Vantage Coupe and Roadster models have benefitted from these improvements too.
Its natural style has benefitted from significant details borrowed from the Vantage S and N400 models, including a deeper front bumper with an aerodynamic splitter and larger air intake that gives more menace to the front end as well as feeding the engine and cooling the brakes. At the rear there is a race-car-like diffuser which aids aerodynamic performance, while down the sides the more pronounced sill skirts are another racing-derived improvement.
Under the bonnet lies the thrilling 4.7-litre V8 naturally aspirated engine. With 420bhp on offer there is certainly no shortage of performance, delivered to the rear wheels either by a six-speed manual or seven-speed Sportshift II automatic that combines both smooth shifting in traffic with paddle-activated rapid shifts on demand.
Arguably of even greater benefit are the chassis alterations, comprising of a heavily revised steering which has a new power assistance set-up and a quicker steering rack, dropping the ratio to 15:1 for sharper response. The high specification tyres have been increased in width by 10mm to give even greater grip, while the brakes have been upgraded 380mm discs with six-piston callipers for unshakable braking performance.
Our verdict on the Aston Martin Vantage V8 Vantage Roadster
A series of significant upgrades has enhanced the Vantage experience still further, and although not the youngest car in the class it still has a huge amount to offer. Undeniable presence and style, rousing performance and a reasonable degree of practicality.
Running costs for the Vantage will be very high indeed. The purchase price, fuel consumption and insurance are all at the top end of the scale, making it a car for the well-heeled only.
Space and practicality
The Vantage is relatively restricted in terms of space although most importantly front seat passengers are well catered for. The fact that the folding roof does not impinge on boot space is a real bonus, particularly given the Vantage is the ideal weekend getaway car. Behind the rear seats there is also a little space that can be utilised.
Controls and display
The layout of the Vantage is logical and relatively easy to use as well as handsome. The gorgeous floodlit instruments and clear digital displays speak volumes about the quality of the car as a whole and make it a particularly pleasant vehicle to travel in at night. The layout of the main controls in the centre console is quite spread out and requires a little familiarisation.
Although the ride is sporty and firm, the Vantage delivers impressive levels of comfort. The ride copes admirably with rougher surfaces and with the roof up the model is extremely refined. Road and wind noise are well disguised and at a cruise the engine settles down to a discreet rumble. The seats are also very good, with full electric adjustment to attain an excellent driving position. The only comfort demerit is the weight of the clutch in traffic, although of course this is no problem on the Speedshift automatic version.
Befitting a car of this price and exclusivity, the Vantage comes with an alarm and immobiliser as standard. This can be upgraded to include a tilt and intrusion sensor, while a tracking device is also on the options list.
With an immensely strong chassis the Vantage offers a high level of passive safety, while the high performance brakes and suspension, combined with a standard stability control system promise an equally high level of active safety. Traction control can easily be provoked, but is not intrusive. In the Roadster, roll-over hoops are ejected should the car be involved in an accident.
The driving experience is everything with an Aston Martin and the Vantage does not disappoint. Even a low speeds it provides excitement thanks to the burbling exhaust note, and a brief squirt of the accelerator is all that is required to make significant progress. The big V8 engine is happy to rev around past 7,000rpm delivering mighty performance in the process. The handling matches the performance too, with the quicker steering rack and revised suspension providing significant improvements.
Family car appeal
The Vantage's family appeal is limited by its small rear seats - only the smallest child seats will fit and the boot is insufficient to carry large amounts of luggage.
First car appeal
The Vantage is much too expensive and powerful to suit even the richest first time car buyer.
Quality and image
The Vantage shows clear attention to detail and high quality materials throughout. The end result is a car that is a pleasure to operate, right down to switches on the dashboard or opening the boot. The same can be said for the Vantage's image, which is close to peerless. The combination of a famous back catalogue of fine performance cars alongside a highly successful racing heritage and cinematic appearances make it one of the most desirable cars money can buy.
A svelte roadster of this height should be difficult to get into, but the clever arrangement of the doors, which open out and upwards, makes getting into the front surprisingly easy. There are only two seats so there's no issue with getting in the back, and at the rear the boot lid opens quite high although the aperture itself is relatively narrow.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
All Vantage models are fitted with a premium audio system as standard, with a powerful 700W amplifier and a dedicated iPod connector. Steering wheel controls allow easy operation and the sound quality is exceptional, regardless of the input device.
Colours and trim
The Vantage's cabin can be customised to a large degree, with a choice of wood or metal finishes to the dashboard helping to boost the quality. On the outside the Vantage still looks sharp enough to work in almost any colour, although subtle coloured metallics work particularly well.
Given its low slung driving position and lack of conventional bumpers, parking the Vantage can be a little nervy at times. The folding roof obstructs the view to the rear but, even with the roof down, the hunched shoulders restrict observation. However, the light steering and standard rear parking sensors do help.
Tyre inflation kit fitted as standard
Petrol engine options - 4.7-litre (420bhp, 430bhp); 6.0-litre (510bhp). Six-speed manual or seven speed automatic transmission. Trim levels: Vantage, Vantage S and V12.
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