What’s better than a 2021 Aston Martin Vantage? A 2021 Aston Martin Vantage with an (admittedly expensive) Aston Martin Racing aero kit.
And doesn’t it look absolutely bloody sensational? Talk about taking one for the team…
Quality and performance at this level don’t come cheap, but that’s a given. The aero kit is effective, too, but more on that in a minute. Pricing starts from $299,950 before on-road costs, so you’re absolutely playing with the big kids at this end of the field. However, as tested, the Vantage we have here starts from $397,835, and that’s before the $20,000 aero kit is added into the mix.
Let’s not concern ourselves with trivialities such as price, then, shall we? After all, it’s hard to put a value on looking this good. One thing’s for sure, though, the bespoke nature of the Aston buying experience means that every sense of the journey feels premium.
There’s no doubt that at this level, bespoke design, an options list as long as your arm, and the ability to customise your car to suit your tastes are all extremely valuable commodities. Not even dreary Sydney rain during most of our testing and photo shoot could put a damper on the experience. If anything, it added some theatre to the occasion.
If you’re laying down this kind of money, you want to feel like your car is special, and Aston Martin is more than happy to oblige. From 2021 on, you’ll also get a tie-in with F1, perhaps lifting the perception of the British marque even higher.
Some of the options include: gloss twill carbon-fibre exterior trim, side gills in gloss carbon fibre, quad matte-black tailpipes, matte-black grille mesh, red brake calipers, embossed seat details and, of course, the aero kit.
As with any Aston, though, the centrepiece is under the long bonnet.
The all-alloy, quad overhead camshaft, 32-valve V8 engine is a masterpiece regardless of how long it’s been in service. Measuring in at 4.0 litres, and with two turbos, it thunders out 375kW at 6000rpm and 685Nm at 5000rpm. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic and RWD, with 0–100km/h dispatched in 3.6 seconds, on to a top speed of 314km/h.
|2021 Aston Martin Vantage (with AMR Aero Kit)|
|Engine||4.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8|
|Power and torque||375kW at 6000rpm, 685Nm at 5000rpm|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||10.3L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||15.5L/100km|
|ANCAP safety rating||Untested|
|Warranty||Three years / unlimited km|
|Main competitors||Porsche 911, Maserati Gran Turismo|
|Price as tested (excluding on-road costs)||From $299,950|
It’s a tried and tested driveline combination familiar to any ’Benz with a 63 in the title, and while some (unfairly I reckon) criticise the Aston package for making less power and torque than it can obviously handle, you have to go deep into the AMG pool to get this level of exclusivity and design aesthetic. Power is one thing, but it’s not the last word on every occasion.
The combined fuel consumption is a claimed 10.3L/100km, and we used a fair bit more than that on test. Mid 15s for the most part.
The aero kit isn’t just about style – or cost for that matter. Approaching 300km/h, according to Aston Martin, the extra aero smarts also provide 194kg in additional downforce. Just what I’ll be needing for my run to and from work. One thing the Aston is emblematic of is the way in which we can now reliably bring the racetrack to the road.
Race cars used to be undriveable pigs, awful to live with day to day, but now we can drive something that isn’t so far removed from what might appear on-track around the world – without a pit crew on call. Aston’s aero kit is comprehensive – a fixed rear wing that looks as aggressive as you’d expect, an extended front splitter that is just begging to be nailed on sharp driveways, and additional dive planes. Lashings of raw carbon fibre, red and blue strips and a Union Jack decal aft of the front wheels add to the kerb appeal.
From any angle, then, the Vantage aero looks like a serious piece of kit. First impressions, though, before you wake the V8 from its slumber, come once you’re comfortable in the driver’s seat. The Vantage is undeniably beautiful in the cabin. There’s the soft aroma of expensive leather from the second you open the door, the quality of the stitching, the design, the carpets, and the finishes are all premium.
The seats are both comfortable and supportive, but not stupidly hard like some race-focused seats can be. There’s truth to the statement that whenever you sit inside an English car, you understand the handmade quality and bespoke sense of occasion that seemingly only the English can provide.
It’s not all roses, though – and elements of the Vantage’s cabin feel a generation old despite how premium it is. Too many buttons and too much complexity in terms of switchgear is something we’d love to see tidied up and rationalised. If only for the fact that it’s easier to do now than ever before thanks to modern infotainment. The system itself feels old, too, and it’s definitely time for a significant upgrade in that department.
The other area that could do with a tweak is the switchgear and controls themselves that don’t hide their Mercedes-Benz origins. Nothing wrong with them in a ’Benz, by any means, but in a sports car as exclusive as an Aston, they jar a little. Small gripe it has to be said, but a gripe nonetheless. The driver’s gauge display is a good one, though – no complaints there.
The cabin itself is comfortable and airy, though, and despite the obvious racetrack tie-in thanks to the flair of the body kit, it presents very much as a cool and collected long-distance cruiser for those so inclined. The boot is useful, too, even two-up for longer trips, so you can definitely use the Vantage as its maker intended.
At the other end of the scale, I’m not so sure how many Vantage buyers part with this much cash to then take their car to the ragged edge of its performance envelope. Still, if you do want to really lean on it, the Vantage will respond with gusto. It’s capable, balanced, and sharp.
The relatively short wheelbase, short overhangs, and amount of tyre on the road all contribute to a feeling of surefootedness no matter how hard you’re pushing. Of course, to really explore the edges you’d need to be at a track day, but on a twisty road the Vantage is a rewarding drive. Interestingly, and as we’re starting to see more and more often, the suspension tune works nicely on average roads, despite the sharpness with which the Vantage handles.
It takes a properly nasty road imperfection to unsettle the Vantage, even when you’re in the middle of the corner with the outside loaded up. That’s despite the 20-inch forged, lightweight wheels and liquorice strip tyres. The eight-speed automatic is a good one, smooth and fuss-free at low speed, but sharp enough at high speed. We write it here a lot, but a conventional automatic is still a desirable transmission.
If we accept the Porsche 911 as the standard-setter in the segment, the Vantage isn’t up there with that platform’s inherent ability, but it’s not miles off either. There’s a hard-to-measure dose of precision the 911 possesses that the Vantage doesn’t quite have. It’s in the throttle pedal’s response, the feedback through the wheel, the steering reaction, the brake pedal, all the small, hard to define and hard to measure characteristics that take the 911 to the next level. Still, a 911 doesn’t have the scarcity of the Vantage, so it’s definitely a case of horses for courses.
Despite the turbos working away quite enthusiastically, the engine’s power delivery is linear and predictable, piling on speed with ease. It exhibits the best of both a large-displacement V8 and a hi-po turbocharged rocket. We can’t argue with the efficiency of the modern turbo engine, but it’s also hard to argue with the way a V8 goes about its work, and this AMG engine delivers the best of both. The various driving modes wind the wick up or down to suit your mood, but there is little doubt the Aston is a performance car at the pointy end of the field. The fact it looks as good as it does is a bonus.
The 911 is a relevant competitor here, too, because the common refrain is often, ‘why would you buy one instead of a Porsche?'. My answer is simply, why not? I’d buy an Aston because it’s not a Porsche. And for plenty of buyers, the outright performance or precision might only be a very small part of the equation – if it’s part of the equation at all.
If you measure your sports car by its presence, street appeal, and the way it makes you feel every time you drive it, the Aston Martin Vantage – or any Aston Martin for that matter – is a very special car. You might not need the aero kit, and you might not need the long list of options, but that’s okay, there’s a regular Vantage available if you prefer.