Hard edge of lux­ury

Aston Martin’s Van­tage S is re­lent­lessly in your face. But you wouldn’t want it any other way. Neil Dowl­ing re­ports

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

PINE plan­ta­tions, as the ap­par­ent pre­ferred lo­ca­tion for man’s in­hu­man­i­ties, silently have wit­nessed some mind­numb­ing events.

But rarely have their nuts been shaken by some­thing as spine-chill­ing as the coarse vi­bra­tions of an al­most ope­nended Aston Martin ex­haust.

The sound of the lat­est Aston, the Van­tage S, on test dis­torts and echoes down the per­fect ver­ti­cal line of trees.

It is more the an­gry noise of an an­i­mal in pain than a V8 en­gine that has been grudg­ingly en­ticed to re­lease even more power.

Aston Martin de­vel­oped the V8 Van­tage S as an evo­lu­tion­ary model. More power, more torque, more noise and more driver ex­hil­a­ra­tion have pushed it one step closer to the race track.

With a hard-edged sev­en­speed au­to­mated man­ual and a $275,000 price tag, clearly it’s not for ev­ery­one.

VALUE

Let me re­peat that fig­ure: $275,000. Value for

some, but this is a pur­chase where value isn’t the first port of call.

If you want your car right on the edge of per­for­mance and yet want a dose of lux­ury clothed in the world’s sex­i­est car body, then this may rep­re­sent value.

The Van­tage S, ob­vi­ously based heav­ily on the $250,272 V8 Van­tage, doesn’t miss out on much in the way of fea­tures but there’s a sense that this may be an up­grade on a car first made six years ago.

In the kit are a Bang & Olufsen au­dio, iPod/USB con­nec­tiv­ity, leather and al­can­tara, satnav and cruise con­trol.

DE­SIGN

This is the most beau­ti­ful car in the world. You may dis­agree but you’d be com­pletely wrong.

I recog­nise that it’s six years old but it would be a brave man – or woman – who takes on draw­ing the next shape.

Be­cause it is es­sen­tially a grand tourer coupe, it’s made low and fast and to carry the bare min­i­mum of peo­ple.

In­stantly, it’s go­ing to be big on en­gine space and light on cabin room.

But for those who travel light be­tween Euro­pean coun­tries at Mach 1, cabin room is suf­fi­cient and, if the road’s smooth, it’s also com­fort­able.

TECH­NOL­OGY

Lots to talk about here. It gets the same ba­sic 4.7-litre V8 as the cheaper Van­tage, but adds an ad­justable in­take plenum and plenty more spark from the ig­ni­tion.

More air, more spark, more bang. Power goes up 7kW to 321kW at a dizzy 7200rpm and peak torque rises 20Nm to 490Nm.

The gear­box is a Graziano seven-speed au­to­mated man­ual (Aston calls it Sportshift II ) in­te­grated with the diff. It’s made specif­i­cally for this car.

It is con­trolled by the same panel of round but­tons, in­clud­ing the must-have Sports switch, atop the cen­tre con­sole but in­di­vid­u­ally se­lected by the steer­ing wheel-mounted pad­dle shifters.

Aston says shift times are quicker than a man­ual and the box is 50kg lighter than a du­al­clutch sys­tem and 24kg down on the stan­dard Van­tage’s Sportshift I trans­mis­sion. No man­ual trans­mis­sion is avail­able on the S.

Com­pared with the stan­dard Van­tage, the sus­pen­sion is firmer, steer­ing quicker with fewer turns needed, the brakes are grooved as well as vented and the tyres are meatier. Oh, and it goes faster.

SAFETY

Four airbags, all the elec­tronic aids known to man and a nonex­is­tent crash rat­ing. Many ex­pen­sive, low-vol­ume cars don’t carry a crash rat­ing in Europe, the US or Aus­tralia.

DRIV­ING

The noise of the en­gine crank­ing is like the pre­cur­sory gur­gling of an agi­tated vol­cano and the eight cylin­ders fir­ing is the ex­plo­sion of jet­ti­soned lava.

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