VANTAGE - - Cover Story -

Just as its styling bor­rows noth­ing from the out­go­ing model, so the new Van­tage owes noth­ing to the old car be­neath its skin. As we’ve heard, it’s built around an evo­lu­tion of the DB11’S new bonded alu­minium struc­ture, which is said to save weight (though only a dry weight of 1530kg is quoted) while in­creas­ing rigid­ity.

The weight sav­ings are some­what off­set by the fact that the new Van­tage is big­ger than its pre­de­ces­sor – 80mm longer over­all at 4465mm, 104mm longer in the wheel­base (now 2704mm) and 131mm wider at 2153mm (in­clud­ing door mir­rors). The old car al­ways felt bril­liantly compact, so this is a con­cern, but we’ll wait for our first drive be­fore pass­ing judge­ment.

What’s cer­tain is that the new Van­tage won’t lack for per­for­mance with AMG’S biturbo 4-litre quad-cam V8 be­neath the bon­net, as it is in the DB11 V8. Changes wrought byas­ton in­clude new en­gine mounts and a slim­line wet sump that al­lows the en­gine to be mounted lower for an im­proved cen­tre-of-grav­ity. Re­vised in­duc­tion and ex­haust sys­tems, plus care­ful cal­i­bra­tion of the en­gine map­ping are said to give the Van­tage a dis­tinc­tive voice be­fit­ting an As­ton sports car.

The old V8 was char­ac­ter­ful but strug­gled to de­liver the per­for­mance ex­pected from a car sit­ting at the Van­tage’s price point. The new en­gine has no such issues, with head­line fig­ures of 503bhp at 6000rpm and 505lb ft of torque from 2000-5000rpm. It’s worth re­mem­ber­ing this is the en­try-level Van­tage and these out­puts stand com­par­i­son with both the out­go­ing nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V8’s 420bhp and 346lb ft and the V12 Van­tage S’s 563bhp and 457lb ft.

With so much torque across such a broad spread of revs, the new Van­tage prom­ises in­gear per­for­mance be­yond that of even the old V12, backed up by a claimed 0-60mph time of 3.6sec and a top speed of 195mph. The new en­gine also brings im­proved fuel econ­omy and emis­sions fig­ures, with an EU com­bined mpg fig­ure of 26.8 and a CO2 fig­ure of 245g/km.

Though there is talk of a man­ual gear­box, to be­gin with the Van­tage will be avail­able only with a rear-mounted close-ra­tio ZF eight-speed au­to­matic, again as in the DB11 V8. This can ei­ther be driven in self-shift­ing ‘D’ mode, or op­er­ated via fixed pad­dles. Us­ing the lat­est adap­tive soft­ware, when left to its own de­vices the gear­box will choose the op­ti­mum gear for ef­fi­ciency or re­sponse, de­pend­ing on the dy­namic mode se­lected. The pad­dles them­selves have been ex­tended so they are within fin­ger­tip reach even when steer­ing lock is ap­plied. The shift qual­ity of the pad­dles has also been made more pos­i­tive, for bet­ter feel and con­nec­tion.

Though not the purist choice, the ZF auto is a crack­ing gear­box. Given the old ASM Sportshift was al­ways a bit off the pace when it came to in­ci­sive shifts and low-speed ma­noeu­ver­ing, it should ad­dress the old car’s short­com­ings, both in ev­ery­day use and on the open road.

Left Mercedes-amg 4-litre twin-turbo V8 sits well be­hind the front axle line. Peak out­puts are 503bhp and an as­ton­ish­ing 505lb ft – and this is just the ‘en­try-level’ Van­tage. Only gear­box avail­able ini­tially will be the ZF eight-speed auto with pad­dleshifters

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