Aston Martin Vantage

This upgrade will make you drool

BY MICHAEL FRANK — Fall 2018

ith the highly anticipated release of the 2019 Aston Martin Vantage, the British manufacturer as synonymous with James Bond as a shaken, not stirred martini unveils a rear-wheel-drive, two-seat super sports car rivaled only by the likes of the Porsche GT3 or, indeed, the more expensive Porsche Turbo S. For the Vantage’s first upgrade in more than a decade, engineers have finely tuned the suspension and used carbon fiber and aluminum to craft a rigid, low-weight body that feels playful and nimble even at around-town speeds. That’s in stark contrast to many of its peers that can feel comatose unless you’re driving them on a racetrack (or driving so fast you’re risking arrest). Read on for a few more reasons the new Vantage could be your next supercar crush.

Reliable engine: Niche brands frequently try to build their own engines, an expensive process that can create headaches when a car needs repairs. But in exchange for a small investment stake by Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin instead procures its from Mercedes’ performance AMG division. Chief benefit: a world-class, extremely reliable 4.0-liter V-8 spitting out 503 horsepower and capable of propelling the car to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and 195 mph top speed.

Lighter equals better: The Vantage’s lighter weight comes not just from the carbon fiber and aluminum used to make the body but also an all-aluminum substructure composed of pressed panels that are bonded together rather than cast, explains chief engineer Matt Becker. This technique borrowed from state-of-the-art aircraft manufacturing results in an ultrarigid car that at 3,373 pounds is 298 pounds lighter than the Porsche Turbo. Becker says you can always make a car faster with more horsepower, “but the magic of low weight is something a lot more playful.”

Civilized sound: Although inheriting an engine from Mercedes assures reliability, Becker says Aston had to make sure the car still had its own distinct sound. “Their sound is thumpy and deep. So we tuned ours to reduce that low growl, with more mid-tone.” He says the car already looks visually arresting enough; customers don’t need to shake up the neighbors every time they pull out of the driveway.

Athletic, not fierce: We found the new Vantage perfectly balanced, even with its capability for speed on the road or the track. One of Aston’s core DNA principles, Becker says, is that “you don’t have to make a car uncomfortable to make it handle well.” Indeed. While the Vantage was never meant to be the most extreme Aston, we found it can certainly romp but, as Becker says, “won’t muss your hair too much.”

Geared your way: You can get one now with an eight-speed paddle-shift transmission, or you can pre-order and wait a year or more for a manual gearbox. Why get the manual? It’s more involving, and with manual gearboxes heading toward extinction, it will increase your investment’s value, since scarcity factors into collectibility. On the other hand, the paddle-shift has an automatic mode, so it’s easier in traffic.

Details: From $153,081; astonmartin.com

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