Ask Andy Palmer what business Aston Martin is into and the company’s president and CEO will tell you: “Creating and selling dreams.” He is not kidding because the British marque has been fuelling fantasies of racing sports enthusiasts in many iconic movies such as Fast and Furious.
But it’s more of a James Bond luminary. The sports car was the choice of Sean Connery’s debonair spy in the 1964 classic Goldfinger and, since 1995, it has been synonymous with the suave Pierce Brosnan and alpha male Daniel Craig in the franchise’s films. They gave Aston Martin that dashing and macho aura, something every hot-blooded young man wants to own, if he had the moolah.
And why not?
With the latest Vantage, Palmer’s boys have given racing aficionados a dream they can chase. To be sure, the car’s pedigree is unmistakably Aston Martin. For starters, the Vantage packs a lot of punch. Powered by the sports car maker’s potent new alloy, 4-litre twin-turbo, and V8 engine, it produces 503bhp at 6,000rpm and 685Nm from 2,000-5,000rpm.
That’s zero to 100kmh in 3.6 seconds, coupled with a top speed of 314kmh. This impressive power and torque are deployed to the rear wheels via a rear-mounted ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.
And, if the dapper Bond is a man’s ultimate hunter, the Vantage is the supreme predator.
It’s equipped with a sophisticated suite of integrated electronic systems including Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Torque Vectoring. It also has a speed-dependent electric power steering with 2.4 turns lock-to-lock that delivers a combination of responsiveness and precise, intuitive control. For the first time, too, the Vantage is donned with Electronic Rear Differential (E-Diff), which can go from fully open to 100 per cent locked in milliseconds.
What this entire electro-technology wizardry literally means is that it hands the driver maximum control – and enjoyment – behind the wheel. And at higher speeds, he can depend on the E-Diff to take control of the car’s behaviour and make it feel more composed on the straights and at corners. This gives the driver the confidence to exploit the Vantage’s entire capabilities to the hilt.
This British sports car is designed to match the heart and soul of a beast hunting its prey at blinding speed. Aerodynamics, therefore, underpins its design, in which airflow from the front is directed underneath the car and, here, a system of fences channels cooling air to where it is needed.
Clean air is also fed into a rear diffuser, creating a low-pressure area there, while the side gills release air pressure around the front wheels. What all this does is generate a high level of downforce – which is rare in production cars – that stabilises the Vantage at high speeds.
But so much about its muscles.
Design inside the Vantage complements the more aggressive nature of the car and is geared towards engaging all of a driver’s intuitive senses, through
a combination of rotary and toggle controls. There is also more headroom and storage space than in its predecessor.
This Aston Martin is also pampered with everything the marque has to offer. It gets all the standard equipment – keyless start/stop, tyre pressure monitoring system, parking distance display, park assist and front and rear parking sensors.
The in-car entertainment system comes with all the works, too, including a centrally mounted 8-inch LCD screen, Bluetooth, audio and phone streaming, iPod, iPhone and USB playback and an integrated satellite navigation system.
For Palmer, this is what dreams are made of. “It speaks volumes of the outgoing Vantage that it is the single most successful model in Aston Martin’s history,” he says. “Creating a worthy successor has been a challenge to relish and a huge source of motivation.”
“I’m enormously excited by what we’ve created: a new Vantage that’s more explicit in looks and intent, wrapping heart-pounding performance and dazzling dynamics into an everyday usable package. A true sports car with a sharper look and a keener dynamic edge, the new Vantage is the Aston Martin pure driving machine enthusiasts have been waiting for.”
The Aston Martin Vantage is available at $699,000, before COE and options.
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