2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster - First Steer
This is the Vantage as it should have been
- 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster 4.7-litre Sportshift - $292,949 (RRP) / $309,744 (As Tested)
- Contemporary Paint $1250 (Fitted); HID Headlamps with Power Wash $1250 (Fitted); Powerfold Exterior Mirrors $745 (Fitted); Convertible Wind Deflector $995 (Fitted); Front Parking Sensors $745 (Fitted); Bluetooth $1250 (Fitted); Premium Audio System Dolby Pro-Logic II $2500 (Fitted); Satellite Navigation $4350 (Fitted); Auto-Dimming Interior Rear View Mirror $240 (Fitted); Memory Seats $745 (Fitted); Cruise Control $745 (Fitted); Heated Seats $745 (Fitted); Smoker's Kit $365 (Fitted); Umberalla & Holder $380 (Fitted); Volumetric & Tilt Sensor Alarm $490 (Fitted)
Engine Response, Chassis Balance, Graceful Styling
Coarse Transmission, Disparate Brake Pedal Feel
- by Matt Brogan
Now before I begin please allow me to quantify my next comment, for it is not my intention to detract from the previous 4.3-litre engined car's capabilities in any way. I dearly loved the previous model, but by the same token I hasten to add that this is the Vantage as it should have always been.
The 4.7-litre, or 09MY (2009 Model Year in Aston language), is a far better balanced, much more responsive and so dexterously agile example of a sports roadster than the predecessor, yet it remains as fantastically docile (when the mood takes you) and gracefully attractive as always was the V8 Vantage.
As I was only afforded a relatively short time with the Roadster, a First Steer is par for the course for now, with a full review expected when next we drive the Vantage twins in December.
But that aside, the new Vantage Roadster proved in a short space of time that it is arguably the ultimate example of what a high performance luxury roadster can be. It truly is a beautiful piece of machinery. The exterior skin, whilst stunning and flowing, tells only half the story though with the full experience only lived once you've been in the driver's seat.
The cockpit is a thing of beauty, for not only is the Vantage a purposeful sports car, it is a contemporary example of luxury sports motoring at the same time, with all the modern features you'd expect of a modern car, plus a comfort and level of satisfaction only achieved from placing yourself behind the wheel of something so truly magical as an Aston Martin (I am especially fond of the 700W Premium Audio System).
Now I may sound a little biased here, but just think about it for a moment. Where else do you get the same level of performance and luxury at this price level. The Italian rivals may match or better the Vantage in terms of performance, but are a little crude and hard to live with day to day - both inside and out. Our German friends too come close, but feel sterile and phlegmatic by comparison to the sumptuous and lavish nature of the British marque.
The Roadster is also both thoroughly impressive and immensely enjoyable, no compromise here. Aside from the flowing and purposeful appearance on offer, the ride and handling of the Vantage seem to defy what is possible from an open air vehicle with stiff dynamics and a comfortable ride coming together in a way you'd almost swear is impossible.
Handling is nimble, swift and agile with terrific balance front to rear. The neutrality of the chassis makes small corrections at speed feel contained and precise whilst oversteer moments in the wet (one of the previous Vantage's weak points) are now easy and entertaining, instead of teeth clenchingly scary.
Under the long vented bonnet the new 4.7-litre V8 is certainly more responsive and linear in delivery than was the 4.3-litre, and makes for more rapid acceleration from just about any point on the tacho, without the need to downshift. The all-alloy, 32-valve engine making an impressive 313kW at 7300rpm and authoritative 470Nm of torque at 5000rpm with performance figures now equally as striking.
Whilst it's all well and good to boast a car's credentials on figures alone, it is seldom that they reflect the nature of a car's power delivery traits - entirely a different proposition - but the Vantage is absolved of this reasoning. Power is put to the ground with such ease that the accelerating is not only brisk and purposeful from standstill, but remains completely usable and obstinate all the way through to the top speed of 290km/h.
A 0-to-100km/h time of 4.9 seconds is only a small part of the performance equation with the Vantage being one of so very few cars that truly seems to gather pace faster beyond the speed limit than it does from stand still, simply breath taking when compared to the previous model.
When it comes to shifting gears however, I feel the Vantage's rear-mounted Sportshift gearbox lacks the fluidity of some rivals and is quite harsh in uptake and through certain shift points, especially at lower speeds. It is an automated manual, and one must make allowance for that before passing comment, and although the revised gearbox is certainly an improvement over the previous generation vehicle, it is not as characteristically smooth as the remainder of the Vantage's personality.
Under full noise the box responds well and will manage a decent job of cog swapping in a timely fashion, but when cruising around town at and especially below the speed limit, things become a little awkward, clumsy and difficult to manage in a smooth fashion. It seems throttle pressure is the key to maintaining a steady progression of shifts but this can take some time to familiarise yourself to.
Braking too, whilst certainly capable, requires a little more pedal pressure than early indications would have you believe and as you approach your braking target, a little push from the downshifting of the gearbox will see a momentary change in pedal pressure which becomes disconcerting under close proximity braking. Again, perhaps this is a familiarisation trait that takes some sympathy, more time with the Vantage could prove me wrong here.
The vast array of options fitted to our test vehicle only further enhance the Aston Martin experience and though the costs of such options could arguably be absorbed into the Vantage's list price, it is nice to know you can get yourself in to a Roadster at the cheaper end of the scale should you not be the type who is fussed with creature comforts and instead enjoys the Vantage in its more pure form.
Were it not for the clumsy and somewhat intrusive Sportshift or the dubiously disparate feel of the brake pedal, this would be an ideal sports roadster. At this end of the scale one is supposed to feel immersed in the finer offerings wealth affords you and when a performance car with marked prestige is one of those luxuries, an Aston Martin Vantage Roadster just about pegs top place. For my money, I'd take the manual any day.
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