British luxury sports car manufacturer Aston Martin has unveiled its long-awaited new-generation Vantage in a simultaneous global reveal across six major cities.
Earlier, CarAdvice was afforded an exclusive look at the new Vantage – the same car revealed today in Tokyo – and one of only six pre-production presentation cars Aston Martin commissioned. This particular example was shown to clients and prospective buyers in Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast, even before the covers came off in the UK.
The first production-series car will be flown to New Zealand for a series of track days – due to homologation restrictions here in Australia – but the first driveable Vantage will arrive in March for a series of events around the Australian Grand Prix. Of course.
Production of the new Vantage for Australia will commence in late May or early June, with customer deliveries set to begin in July, according to Kevin Wall, Regional Manager Australia and New Zealand at Aston Martin.
Like its predecessor that launched in 2005 and became the marque’s best-selling model, with 25,000 sold over 12 years, the new Aston Martin Vantage is likely to sell even better – though Wall would not be drawn on actual projections.
“While we’re not talking volumes with this car – we do have planning volumes – but we do genuinely see this new model as significantly increasing our volume in this market. Though, based on our orders over the last few weeks, it probably won’t increase the volumes as much as we would like, because of restricted supply in 2018,” Wall said.
That $299,950 starting price puts it almost line-ball with Porsche’s 911 Carrera 4 GTS and the Mercedes-AMG GT S – priced at $298,600 and $298,711 respectively. However, options pricing for the Australian market will follow shortly.
Interestingly, the two rival models mentioned above are the same two cars that Aston benchmarked while developing the Vantage, and it’s also those owners they hope to conquest.
“With this car, we’re not only targeting existing Vantage owners – who are an extremely enthusiastic and loyal bunch – but this car has been a long time coming, so we also need to bring customers back into the brand, as well as those 911 customers.
“In fact, those 911 customers we have had through to see the vehicle have had a very positive view of it. But, at the same time, we’ve also had research teams poring over the car to provide feedback on the way we spec this car, the way we price it, and the way we position the car in market.
Under the bonnet lies an AMG 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol engine with a class-leading 375kW at 6000rpm and 680Nm of torque between 2000–5000rpm going to the rear wheels.
“This is a properly fast car, able to accelerate from 0–100km/h in 3.7 seconds with a top speed of 314km/h. It’s also the first Aston Martin to be equipped with an electronic rear differential that’s capable of going from fully open to 100 per cent locked in milliseconds.
“It’s also the second new model, after the DB11, in Andy Palmer’s Second Century plan. When Palmer took up the top job at Aston’s HQ in Gaydon, he told the Director of Design, Marek Reichman, that he needs to design cars which are so clearly positioned, and so uniquely identifiable that even my grandmother could walk into an Aston Martin showroom and tell the difference,” Wall told CarAdvice.
The marketing film for the new Vantage says the design of the new car is inspired by nature. At the front, there’s a definitive shark profile to the nose, and that shark imagery progresses on from there to the so-called ‘shark gills’.
While that might be the case, there are also strong design cues from DB10, the Bond car from the Spectre movie, as well as the Vulcan – Aston’s track-only hypercar. So, the rear of the car is very James Bond, while the front is very Vulcan.
And while there appears to be a lot going on with the exterior, Wall is keen to explain there’s nothing on the latest Vantage that is superfluous.
“If there are no flutes flaring from the bonnet, it’s because it doesn’t need them. The famous side-strake has been redesigned and renamed side-gill, picking up on the shark theme – but again, it’s there for a purpose. Likewise, with the rear diffuser/splitter. The diffuser is active, in other words. It’s there to create genuine downforce,” he added.
“At the front of the car, you’ll notice quite a few design cues from the DB10, as well as the Vulcan. It’s a more assertive, more pronounced grille. It’s inherently taken off a shark’s nose and is the lowest grille in the Aston range.
“We’ve moved away from traditional louvres, and replaced them with a bigger mesh grille, which allows a lot more air to feed the radiator and the two turbochargers.”
The bonnet uses a single clamshell, with no vent lines. It gives you a single cut line, along with a wider, cleaner look. It works well with the new 20-inch wheels in two designs and three colourway choices for each.
On the sides, Aston has done away with the chrome side-strake and instead used the gills mentioned above. There are air vents where the wheel arches are, which Aston claims will reduce drag. The mesh itself can be had in regular black, colour-coded, and eventually carbon.
The wheelbase is around 103mm longer than the previous model, and there’s a hidden waist seal – a first for Aston Martin and indeed a production car, which gives you a clean line.
At the rear, the tailgate produces real downforce and a very prominent active rear diffuser. Underneath the car, a series of fences channels the air through to the rear of the car, which adds more downforce, is the claim.
Under the hatch there’s 350 litres of boot space, and – officially – you can get two golf bags in there. And, as with the DB11, there’s no model-designated badge, just Aston Martin in chrome at the rear of the car.
Inside, it’s a completely different cockpit to the outgoing car, and indeed the DB11 – sportier and more ergonomically integrated. The sports seats in the show vehicle are optional, but the standard seats are still very sporty by design.
Some of the technology on board includes three-stage active damping suspension, as well as three-stage sports transmission – but independent of each other. There’s also electronic steering, keyless entry and start, electronic parking brake, and a touchpad-activated infotainment system from Daimler-Benz.
We also like the standard door pulls – orange on the show car – they demonstrate the rather serious intentions of the new Vantage.
New Vantage employs some new technology apart from the electronic differential. It also uses a torque-vectoring system carried over from the DB11. The chassis is an evolution of Aston’s latest-generation bonded aluminium architecture, also from the DB11.
The transmission is an eight-speed ZF automatic, with a front-rear weight balance of 49:51, or nigh-on perfect. And this is only supplemented by the positioning of the wheels, which are at the extreme corners of the vehicle. It’s going to handle.
According to Wall, and no surprise, there’s already serious interest in this car.
“Clearly, initial response from prospective Vantage customers has been good, but we are still negotiating with Gaydon on the allocation for Australia and New Zealand. I can tell you, we have a request in, but based on the response we had in Melbourne and genuine interest in the car, we have already asked that be increased by 25 per cent.
“And, for good reason, too. When you combine Australia and New Zealand together, we’ve got 25 per cent market share within our segment, which is one of the highest in the world. In fact, New Zealand, alone, is getting 38 per cent, which is line-ball with the UK.
“But we also need a strong dealer network, because at the end of the day, we’re taking on the likes of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz with the new Vantage, and we’re very serious about this – because we think the car is up to that task.
“The success of the brand is not only measured by what VFACTS says, but also by the amount of money the dealer network invests in the brand,” concluded Wall.
To that end, there’s a new $40 million facility in Melbourne, and a new $38 million facility in Auckland, as well as a $6 million facility in Perth – all of which has been rolled out in the last 12 months.
“The network is very, very committed to the Aston Martin brand. Why? Principally, because Marek Reichman has already shown them the product plan for the next five years”.
Will we see a Vantage V12?
Aston Martin isn’t saying anything, officially, but you can bet it’s well and truly on the cards, because you can bet there will be those buyers craving for that V12 bark that’s so intoxicating.