2008 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster (Sportshift) Review
"For a car company to get the nod as the UK's coolest brand for the second year running, is a remarkable achievement by Aston Martin"
Recommended Retail Price: $277,250 - although you can take the Roadster with the superb 6-speed manual from the renowned Graziano Transmissioni Group, for $269,000 (our choice).
Okay, I’m going to come straight out and say it. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster is currently the best looking drop top on the market. That's not just our collective opinion, that's all of Melbourne, across nine different suburbs from Toorak to Box Hill and all the way to Adelaide, South Australia.
This time around, Aston Martin sent our test vehicle to Melbourne where we had a chance to evaluate its peak hour traffic behaviour, along with the way it handled, being thrown around bend after torturous bend on one of the all time drive routes in Australia – The Great Ocean Road.
After collecting the V8 Vantage Roadster from the outskirts of Melbourne’s CBD, it was driven through peak hour traffic – with the roof down of course. Painted in stunning Glacial Blue – currently the only one in Australia with this colour – there wasn’t one person who wasn’t gobsmacked by this thing of beauty.
Sitting in the driver's seat feels strangely like sitting in a Porsche 911 Carrera. You sit deep into the car, thereby creating the lowest possible centre of gravity setting. That's no coincidence either. The guy who has finally brought financial success to Aston Martin, is a nice German man called Dr Ulrich Bez, who we think has synthetic oil running through his veins. One of his previous previous jobs, was overseeing the design and development of the 911 Turbo, along with other Porsche motor sport duties.
Behind the wheel it’s all very familiar territory to the V8 Vantage Coupe. All the controls and features are in the same places, the only differences visible to the naked eye are the roof control button and the reduced storage space behind the seats.
The boot also looked tiny. We were more than a little worried that our bags, computers and camera gear (including tripod) would simply not fit into the Roadster.
No need for panic at all, as it turned out. Between the boot and behind the seats storage, the car swallowed the lot, and with a little room to spare.
Turn the key and dab the starter button and it doesn’t take long for a tingle to rush down your spine. With the roof down, the raucous V8 note is amplified ten fold in comparison to the Coupe, giving you a heightened sense of pleasure. Head north of 4000RPM and your ears are lovingly tortured with an engine note that contains enough ferocity to disturb the earth’s gravitational field. It's a sound normally heard only on a racetrack and in many ways, defines the vantage as a true hard-core sports car.
Generally a convertible will have a feeling of flex and won’t feel as agile or composed as its hardtop counterpart. The V8 Vantage Roadster on the other hand, feels just as good as the Coupe version in a straight line and through corners. Its uncanny how this car feels no different to the Coupe, no matter what speed you are doing.
On a private, but finite stretch of tarmac with the roof down, we nailed the throttle on the Roadster and comfortably nudged 214km/h while still able to hold a conversation about how good the car's mid to high range acceleration was. I know of very few drop tops that are as comfortable at speed as the Vantage. Stability was also rock solid with plenty of down force and no front-end lightness, whatsoever.
There’s a tonne of grip courtesy of the extra wide 275mm rear treads. Jumping onto the throttle on the exit of a corner delivers reliance and plenty of composure. The body doesn’t feel like it’s about to step out and cause a ruckus, the tyres stick to the road and offer uncanny levels of traction – especially for a rear-wheel-drive roadster.
The pièce de résistance comes in the form of the braking package. No matter how hard you stomp on the anchors or how often you stomp on the anchors, there is always bite and rarely changes in pedal feel. This is thanks to the radial-mounted 4-pot monobloc calipers and 355mm front and 330mm rear ventilated and grooved steel discs.
I can't imagine it’s easy to design a roadster that looks as good with the roof down, as it does with the roof up. That's almost an impossible task for even the most talented of designers. Aston Martin has come oh so close with the Vantage Roadster.
That said from Melbourne to Adelaide we chose the roof down, despite a stinking hot night with five billion bugs making a beeline for the Aston's Xenon headlamps. When we stopped for a quick fuel top up, you couldn't actually make out the grille for the bugs. Funny thing is though, not one of these critters found its way into the cockpit during their seven-hour onslaught.
When the heavens finally did open up around 10.30 pm, preceded by some overly large rain drops, we hit the roof button on the centre console doing 25km/h and in just 18 seconds, the three layer fabric roof was shut tight for our desperate journey across town, to a pizza establishment owned by a family friend, who agreed to keep his doors open for a very late, but well earned feed.
After four incredible days in Aston Martin’s finest, it came time to hand the car back to Aston Martin Australia. Perhaps we should have kept on driving all the way to Perth and just blamed it on a malfunctioning Sat Nav system!
Click here for a gallery of all our Photos.
Anthony Crawford, Paul Maric, Alborz Fallah