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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.