Few would argue the design merits of the previous generation Aston Martin Vantage. Even today, 12 years on from launch, it turns heads for all the right reasons.
Fast forward to 2018, and the all-new Vantage has little (if anything) in common with its predecessor. Clearly, that was the intention right from the outset, when Aston Martin CEO, Andy Palmer, decreed each new model would have a distinctive design, albeit tied together with brand-wide themes.
“Each model has a set of attributes that will appeal to different customers, but all will be instantly recognisable as coming from Aston Martin," Palmer said.
"Differentiation is the key to our future success and to attracting new customers to the brand."
As far back as 2015, when CarAdvice was afforded a rare (brief) drive in the DB10 from Spectre and walk-around with its creator, Sam Holgate, the brand said the new Vantage would blend elements of DB10 and just-released Vulcan.
As we learned when the covers were lifted last year, he was spot-on. The new design shares little with its predecessor, as you can see.
At last week’s global dynamic launch at the demanding Portimao circuit in Portugal, Aston Martin creative director of interior design, Matt Hill, pointed out some key elements of the car’s design and proportion, both interior and exterior.
“The Vantage is a well-proportioned car that uses several devices including short front and rear overhangs. In fact, the wheelbase is 100mm shorter than a DB11’s, which makes it even shorter than a Porsche 911," Hill said.
“We also have a lot of plane shape - front and rear, and that makes the corners disappear, both of which help shorten the car from a design perspective, which gives the Vantage a live and athletic feel, we believe.
“At the front, it’s got a very low nose, like a predator sniffing the bottom – a shark as we say. There’s a big gapping mouth, so we’ve reinvented the grille by opening it up and losing some of the jewellery of the previous model.
“As we head down the back, we’ve still got the bulging haunches and the flick in the tail that gives another hint of the car’s purpose – which is first and foremost, performance,” he continued.
Gone are the traditional side strakes, replaced by so-called metal shark gills, peppered with drilled holes to mirror those surrounding the exhaust pipes down back. The rear diffuser is simply massive too, looking decidedly more race- than road-car.
The changes are just as dramatic inside, incorporating plenty of technology and hardware from Mercedes-Benz – but delivering a different feel from the DB11's cabin.
“Very early on we were discussing the right level of change from DB11 to Vantage. It’s about character separation, and we feel this car is a tough little bastard, so while it’s a predator, it’s also a fighter," Hill said.
“This is a cabin that reflects spirited driving, so clearance around the driver, and as you can see, everything is pushed away from the driver.
"For example, the armrests are occasional on the doors, so when you’re sitting in traffic you get the use of the armrests, but when you’re on track or doing some spirited driving, there’s room to manoeuvre.
“In terms of the character on the inside, it’s more of a contrast to the outside. So, it’s about purity and simplicity – we wanted it to feel like you’re stepping into a gadget, which we were able to explore through the DB10 Bond car.
“We’ve softened it up from that, in the DB10 characterised the ruthlessness of the Bond character and his job, but it’s still a technical, gadgety feel inside. We still wanted plenty of detail in the surfaces and that engagement with a machine," Hill explained.
Along with a new seat design design, which places the driver lower in the car and enables taller drivers to get properly comfortable, there’s a more aggressively-shaped steering wheel with better ergonomics. Even the paddle-shifters are longer, and more usable for different driving styles.
Watch for our full review of the new Aston Martin Vantage when the global embargo lifts on April 11.