: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
“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.