There’s an elite group of sports cars that deliver driving thrills and looks to kill, and the Aston Martin Vantage is one of them. With sculpted bodywork that appears both aggressive and beautiful, this entry-level (if there is such a thing) Aston Martin lives up to is lofty pedigree. The rear-drive coupe is powered by a thunderous twin-turbo V-8, but only the track-ready AMR model offers a manual transmission. Although alternatives from Porsche and Mercedes-AMG offer more approachable performance heights, the Aston provides a longer leash for sideways and smoky antics. The Vantage may not be the most sophisticated sports car available today, but it’s one of the feistiest and flashiest.
Aston Martin only makes some small changes to the Vantage. It’s now available with carbon-ceramic brakes that are made to withstand very high temperatures and resist fade. In addition to saving 53 pounds versus the standard cast-iron rotors, the newly optional discs also bring a revised master cylinder and brake booster that Aston Martin says reduce brake-pedal travel. Other changes include new packages for interior and exterior personalization. The limited-edition Vantage AMR is also all new and includes an exclusive seven-speed manual transmission, in addition to other unique styling and equipment.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Vantage’s clamshell hood lies a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that is supplied by Mercedes-AMG. This engine develops 503 horse power and 505 lb-ft of torque, which is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Vantage AMR features a dog-leg seven-speed manual. (A dog-leg manual places the gears used most frequently in a double H pattern like that of a conventional six-speed manual.) Removing the automatic transmission creates a purer experience from the power train, but also has an added performance benefit of removing 209 pounds of weight. The Vantage’s V-8 sounds beautiful, too, starting with a low baritone rumble at idle and finishing with a high-strung shriek as it nears its redline.
An electronically controlled limited-slip differential and adaptive dampers are standard. The Vantage is tail-happy but predictable, which makes it hilariously good fun on a race track; the suspension is compliant enough for daily-driver duty, although harsh bumps will be obvious to passengers no matter which drive mode is selected for the adaptive dampers. Unfortunately, the optional carbon-ceramic brakes are less amicable during daily driving. While they’re excellent when enlisted for track duty, the upgraded brakes are too grabby for everyday use.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The exterior theatrics continue inside with upscale materials and countless custom options. It’s easy to spend money on the Vantage: Aston Martin offers fancy options such as a full-leather interior, heated and ventilated seats, a carbon-fiber steering wheel, embroidered headrests, and several different options for interior trim, among many other features. The cockpit is snug for two, but it’s lined with leather and faux suede. Likewise, sport seats with power adjustments and memory settings are standard. Still, its luxury experience is diminished by poor noise isolation on the highway. Interior cubby storage is also scarce except for a shallow center-console bin and door pockets.