VANTAGE - - Cover Story -

It was one of the cen­tral tenets of Andy Palmer’s reimag­ined As­ton Martin that each new model would be dis­tinct from the next in both look and feel. We’ll have to wait un­til we’ve driven it to com­ment on the lat­ter, but there’s no question he’s kept his word on the for­mer!

While based on the alu­minium struc­ture of the DB11, some 70 per cent of the com­po­nents are new, so the Van­tage is very much it’s own car under the skin. What the com­mon­al­ity does mean is that the new Van­tage is a big­ger car than the out­go­ing model. One that’s still shorter than the cur­rent, 991-gen­er­a­tion Porsche 911, but one that’s con­sid­er­ably broader-shoul­dered than the car it re­places.

This has helped the de­sign team cre­ate a car with ter­rific pres­ence. Much of this is due to the all-new head- and tail-lights – some­thing the de­sign­ers would have killed for back in the days when Van­tage, DB9 and DBS all shared the same light units – but it’s also thanks to the new car’s ex­ag­ger­ated haunches and mus­cu­lar, preda­tory stance. If old Van­tage was a clenched fist, new Van­tage is a knuckle-duster.

Aero­dy­nam­ics are play­ing an in­creas­ingly prom­i­nent role in shap­ing As­ton Martin’s new­gen­er­a­tion cars. In the case of the Van­tage, this man­i­fests it­self in a full-width front split­ter that sends air­flow be­neath the car to feed the large rear dif­fuser, with ‘fences‘ to chan­nel cool­ing air where it’s needed most. Side gills re­place the clas­sic side-strakes of old, but they now per­form a func­tion by bleed­ing high-pres­sure air from the whee­larches to re­duce lift.

The com­bined ef­fect of these fea­tures, plus the dra­mat­i­cally up­swept tail­gate, is that the new Van­tage is the first core se­ries-pro­duc­tion As­ton Martin to gen­er­ate gen­uine down­force.

As with the ex­te­rior, the in­te­rior of the new Van­tage is busier and more dy­namic. It’s also roomier, with enough head­room for 95th­per­centile male adults and plenty of stowage space be­hind the seats, plus a 350-litre boot.

Shun­ning the fa­mil­iar fluid, grace­ful curves of the out­go­ing model for shorter, sharper lines, the Van­tage has a true cock­pit feel. In­spired by el­e­ments of the DB10 Bond car, which ma­jored on tech­nol­ogy and gad­getry, the Van­tage po­si­tions ma­jor con­trols (such as the ‘PRND’ trans­mis­sion but­tons) in fo­cused clus­ters, and uses a mix­ture of tog­gle and ro­tary con­trols de­signed to be quick and in­tu­itive in op­er­a­tion.

Trimmed in a mix­ture ofal­can­tara and leather and with a choice of Sport and (op­tional) Sports Plus seats, it has all the hall­marks of an As­ton Martin – that’s to say the best qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and hand-crafts­man­ship – com­bined with a high level of stan­dard equip­ment. This in­cludes key­less start-stop, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing, 360-de­gree cam­era with Park­ing Dis­tance Dis­play, Park As­sist and front/rear park­ing sen­sors, plus an 8in LCD screen that con­trols all the ma­jor in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems.

We had a brief sit in the car at Gay­don and the over­all ef­fect is a big de­par­ture from the old one. You sit low for a truly im­mer­sive feel, with the clus­tered switchgear and cowled in­stru­ments all sub­tly fo­cused to­wards the driver. It’s a much more dy­namic en­vi­ron­ment than DB11 but pre­serves an over­all sense of sim­plic­ity and clar­ity. The seats have an en­cour­ag­ing mix of sup­port and cush­ion­ing, while the in­te­rior it­self feels roomy but still snug, as a sports car should.

‘It’s mus­cu­lar, preda­tory… If old Van­tage was a clenched fist, new Van­tage is a knuck­le­duster’

‘With so much torque across such a spread of revs, it prom­ises per­for­mance be­yond that of even the old V12’

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