:5 Jethro Bov­ing­don: Host, Ig­ni­tion and Head 2 Head The chas­sis seemed supremely sta­ble. The quick steer­ing was re­mark­ably au­then­tic. The whole vibe was one of ef­fort­less con­trol.ó

Motor Trend (USA) - - 2018 Best Driver’s Car - Words Frank Markus

“Wow. If this car doesn’t win over­all, it should win most im­proved, rookie of the year, big­gest come­back, and a few more. I’ve never driven an As­ton like this.” Scott Evans spoke for many of us who have driven As­ton Martins at past BDCS, where the brand has dis­ap­point­ingly fin­ished near the bot­tom (eighth, 12th, and 12th). How the mighty have risen.

With strong brakes and a bet­ter-tuned chas­sis, this “brute in a suit” (ku­dos, Lieber­man) in­spired vastly more con­fi­dence than its Gay­don pre­de­ces­sors on Route 198. Most of us ran it in the Sport modes (not Track) with ESC on. Chris Wal­ton ap­pre­ci­ated its “del­i­cacy and bet­ter com­pli­ance on bump steer and jumps.” An­gus Macken­zie liked the way it “tracks true through turns, no mat­ter what’s hap­pen­ing un­der the wheels” and that “it will get play­ful if you want, but the tran­si­tions are ma­ture and mea­sured.” Randy Pobst was its big­gest fan: “This was per­haps my fa­vorite car on the road drive be­cause of its unique com­bi­na­tion of ride, roll pre­ci­sion, and con­trol—one of the best cars here.”

But Pobst’s love soured in Track mode at Weathertech Race­way. “It must be a lot firmer, be­cause the car no longer wants to put power down,” he said. “There’s a twitch in the cor­ner en­try phase, a lot of un­der­steer right in the mid­dle, and then power over­steer on tip-in.” He begged for a sec­ond ses­sion in a less ag­gres­sive set­ting and found it eas­ier to drive but no quicker. Nev­er­the­less, his lap times were 1.63 sec­onds quicker than last year’s DB11 and 3.35 sec­onds ahead of 2016’s V12 Van­tage S. Kim Reynolds strug­gled to rein in the drifts on our fig­ure-eight course, too, where this Van­tage roughly matched the DB11’S per­for­mance.

The As­ton team could tune in a bit more neu­tral­ity—and per­haps buy an M5 to re­verse-en­gi­neer the cal­i­bra­tion of its es­sen­tially iden­ti­cal ZF eight-speed, as the As­ton’s shift tim­ing and logic need re­fin­ing. Do that, and a podium fin­ish could be within reach.

EX­OTIC Ev­ery­thing about this cock­pit screams low-vol­ume hand-built su­per­car. Ma­te­ri­als and de­sign are rich and fancy, but it’s no ergo-mas­ter­piece, and the vents don’t aim low enough to cool the driver’s lower torso.

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