By on August 7, 2006

2006-aston-martin-v8-fa-speed-1024x768.jpg We’ve all been there: deeply smitten by a witty, intelligent, urbane, drop dead gorgeous potential partner. Whether it’s an actual acquaintance or a distant celebrity, their innate hotness sets our souls ablaze. And then, eventually, familiarity breeds contempt. The wit becomes tiresome, the intelligence debatable, the urbanity mundane and the beauty– well that stays. Despite the obvious physical attractions, the time eventually comes when you realize that true love tends to forget. And yes, I’m talking about the Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

Blessed are the souls at Ford's Premier Automotive Group, for they gave Aston's sublime DB9 a more youthful, athletic and attainable sister. The Vantages’ timeless long hood/short deck maintains the family resemblance, but the its tighter proportions work better with Aston’s characteristic sexy C-pillar and toned shoulder lines. Thumbing their nose at Bangles and Blingers, Aston tucked all ancillary objects out of sight, or integrated into the big picture in a manner befitting Gaussian Elimination. If the slick door handles don't impress, the utter lack of body cutlines takes minimalist art on a four-wheeled joyride.  The pictures don't lie.

aston-martin-v8-vantage-03b.jpg Eighteen inch wheels tucked neatly into the package add to the sleek but muscular stance. Work the trick door release and a symphony of hinges open and raise the portal. Sure, the Vantage’s interior is basically the same as the DB9’s, but that's like saying Ashley Judd and Naomi Watts could be sisters. Tender, aromatic leather wraps around everything in sight. The car’s switches, buttons and levers move with such silky precision I bet they were marinated in Mobil 1 before assembly. The aluminum HVAC knobs click with all the reassuring resistance of rheostats in a ‘60’s vintage stereo console.

Not to belabor the point, but the Aston’s cabin’s sensual tactility is inescapable. Like the perfect love, the seats hold you tight without feeling clingy. The machined aluminum gauge faces make your TAG Heuer look like a $9.99 blue light special.  Taken as a whole, it’s Kubla Khan’s pleasure dome on wheels. And then… Attention K-Mart shoppers! If you like the Aston Martin’s clock, why not stop by the Ford aisle and pickup a Fusion?  And so it begins…

2006-aston-martin-v8-engine-1024x768.jpg The AM’s stubby suede sunvisors lack illuminated vanity mirrors– a necessity for any ride appealing to buyers who’d never even think of calling Neiman Marcus Needless Markup. Where are the ventilated seats?  Why is the beat box so unworthy of audiophiles’ attention? Where’s the auto dimming rearview mirror? (For over two decades, Dearborn's vehicles have sported this necessary gadget for a moderate premium.) Granted Aston's minimalist presence implies a rejection of BMW-league gadgetry, but a $110k grand-touring car that’s missing the luxo-basics proves that less is (indeed) less.

Depress the Vantage's solid glass starter button (an affectation worthy of its heritage) and your potential soul mate comes to life. The Aston’s exotic engine tenor speaks volumes, but step on the throttle and the love in your heart wanes. It’s a wonderful day when 380 peak horsepower is merely adequate for a luxury two-seater, but the Vantage's powerband fails to satisfy like a fully engaged Porsche 911, or dumbfound like a boosted Benz at full chat.  Aston's paltry 302lb-ft of torque at 5000rpm is shameful for a modern eight-cylinder. Acceleration is brisk above 3500 revs, but the Aston nameplate should guarantee seamless shove from the git-go.

2006-aston-martin-v8-ra-speed-1024x768.jpg Allegro up the dance beat and the V8 Vantage's bold exhaust note sets souls afire faster than the perfect Lambada partner. The rearward burble sings a thrilling tenor, even without a harmonizing induction growl up front. The precise short throw six-speed transmission has nicely matched ratios and excellent clutch pickup: a sad necessity to keep pace with its competition. 

Throw the Vantage a few curves and it feels, well, okay. The accurate steering sits somewhere between butch Corvette and effortless 911. The dampers say touring above all: flat cornering and impressive feel at 6/10ths, soft and vague at the limit. The Vantage’s aluminum intensive chassis allows the car to swing faster than its stunning proportions imply, allowing for generous speed through a corner (provided you keep the revs up the powerband). But find yourself in the wrong gear mid-corner and the party’s over. Why must such an exclusive, expensive party stop at all?

Aston’s latest beauty clearly states its intention to pistonheads looking for the ideal long-term partner. Its beauty knows no bounds. Its engineering looks great on paper. But drive the beast like a proper sports car, and you immediately discover that the Vantage is the best of all possible rides from the previous millennia. For those willing to sacrifice peak performance in the never-ending quest for beauty, cabin quality and infinite attention to detail, the Vantage makes a fine traveling companion. For the rest, it’s best to worship from afar.  

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41 Comments on “Aston Martin V8 Vantage Review...”


  • avatar
    tyoung9

    you lucky, lucky, git!

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    You don’t mention curb weight, but I’d bet your lover needs to go on a diet. This is a boulevard cruiser, not a sports car.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Vantage: 3461 lbs
    911 Turbo: 3494lbs
    911 Carrera S: 3131
    Corvette Coupe: 3179
    Corvette Z06: 3132

    Weight is pretty competitive to the 911 Turbo in its price range, it just needs more power. Its the cruiser of this group, so it definitely needs those necessary gadgets I mentioned.

    The DB9 is a better cruiser, and has a good bit more punch.

    But man, it is such a gorgeous car.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    Aston-Martin Vantage or Porsche 911; two cars whose performance envelopes are as far from my driving ability as their prices are from my payment ability, so is there any real point in comparing them. But while 911’s are as common as internet yuppies used to be around here (was that a ’02 GT3 or a ’04 Carrerra S ? Don’t know, don’t care), pull up in a Vantage and watch even life-long eunuchs lust. Hence if my lottery numbers ever come up, I’ll be straight down the nearest Aston-Martin dealer.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Much like the Pontiac Solstice, looks trump the stuffing out of performance.

  • avatar

    I would look great in this car.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    OK, so you managed to swing a date with a super-model, and now you’re bitching that she’s no Olympic athlete???

  • avatar
    konaforever

    I would literally kill to own this car.

    Um, so who do I have to kill?

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    I would say the Vantage’s steering effort is significantly heavier than on a C6 Corvette….but accurate, as you stated. The fact that it weighs as much as an AWD 911 turbo is no consolation, considering it is RWD with a lightweight aluminum V8. A used 2005 DB9 is better for profiling, and it has the all important dozen pistons under the hood….for the same price as the Vantage with today’s 10-20k market adjustments.

    For my money, I’ll take a minor hit on style and buy a one year old twin turbo V12 CL65 AMG that massages and ventilates my posterior while showing its 604 HP posterior to virtually every other car on the road…even with 3 passengers. I’ll drive a Z06 if I really want to attack corners, on road or track.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Yes, but Doctor V8, a Merc CL65 AMG vs. a Vantage is comparing Ben Roethlisberger with Hedi Klum.

    I know who I would bet on in the Superbowl, but… so what?

  • avatar

    A little while ago TTAC asked readers to name sexy cars. We couldn’t necessarily define what made a car sexy, but we knew it when we saw it. This car has it.

    Lesley – perfect analogy. Olympic athletes are amazing, impressive, inspiring – but not necessarily sexy.

  • avatar
    johnlincoln

    Thank you for including Gaussian Elimination in that review.

    Made this young engineer’s day.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Tis a pretty machine…. tho thats no streach for an aston martin. At age 10 I had a framed poster of one in my bedroom. I also had a Porsche poster with nearly every model produced till mid 80’s. I’m sure the Aston is a delight which I’ll never understand. I’m not the Aston type… I dont have that kind of bank roll and I dont pretend to either. I’ll appreciate the Aston’s looks from the cool comfort of my Audi or Porsche.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Jonny Lieberman,

    Man, if that analogy holds true, I guess I’m an automotive bisexual….Heidi is a lot of fun on a date, but big Ben is a far more more pleasant partner.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Haaaahaaaa… and while you’re with Heidi, I’ll take her partner (Seal) a performer of note in his own right…

  • avatar
    a_d_y_a

    Why are credits never given to the photographs? Good journalism demands references.

  • avatar

    Um, er, due to financial constraints, TTAC generally uses PR shots provided by the manufacturer.

    Someday…

  • avatar

    I’m a photography major at Mercer University and would like to say I do alright at shooting cars. My entire photo essay last year was um..cars. So I suppose I will humorously suggest doing it..haha..and then maybe you’ll be like “Sure sounds great, after all the price is right.” Cause yeah…that would be sweet.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Andy: my RUF Porsche test showed my photo “skills”. But its usually a lot easier to use PR photos when you have other jobs and commitments, hence why we do it.

    Lesley: My problem is that this supermodel doesn’t accessorize very well. The bare hunk of glass in the sunvisor is proof. I’d expect a Prada bag or three in this deal, ya know?

    johnlincoln: thank you for justifying my 2.5 years of Mechanical Engineering studies, almost forgot they still come in handy!

  • avatar

    Well in case all of these fancy new ads free up some extra $$…It would be an honor to hop on the cheapest flight to snap a few. :D

  • avatar
    WhateverJustCrashIt

    Robert,
    Im a photographer and graphic designer in Houston. Just get me close to the car and I can get great artistic/detail photographs for you. Get me on a track with a chase car and I can get amazing shots. I can provide the camera and do it on spec if need be. I just love taking ppictures of the ones I love.

  • avatar
    Jay Shoemaker

    Sajeev, you keep scoring great rides.

    I have lusted over Aston’s modern designs and came close to buying a DB9, at least until my friend got one and I drove it extensively (see my review in the archives). Now 1,000 miles into the ownership experience and the vehicle has been flatbed trucked to the dealer twice and the repairs and maintence bills are near 10 large.

    These are not ordinary cars for regular guys. These are exquisitely beautiful machines for rich people who want to flaunt their imperfections.

  • avatar
    JSForbes

    Then damn, I need some of those “imperfections”.

  • avatar
    imageWIS

    I read this article, I leave the office for lunch and what do I see parked right outside the supermarket? A gray Vanquish! What are the odds? (ok, ok, IT IS South Florida, and we do have a lot of super cars, but still…) It really is a spectacular looking car.

    Jon.

  • avatar
    bapcha

    While you guys are out debating about Heidi and Ben, I’ll take Keira (she never eats) – The Porsche 911 that needs a service every 20K miles (sorta like the pretty chick that does not eat *food*).

    The Bapcha Man.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    I just don’t get supercars, be they Lambos, Ferrari’s, Aston Martins and so forth. Car mags are obsessed with them and so are alot of people. Were in the U.S. could you really utilize that kind of power other than on a track? And if you like putting you car on a track you are much better off with an M3 or something similar.

    Granted it’s a beautiful car with a really nice interior but you are looking at 1/2 to 1/4 of a house for many people.

  • avatar
    imageWIS

    So? They are expensive…I don’t see how the fact that they cost as much as a house changes anything. Oh, and a F430 CS or a F430 with the sports package will own an M3 on the track.

    Jon.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Plenty of folks can afford the Vantage, or any Aston for that matter. Last time I checked, Aston has a 3-4 month waiting list on both the Vantage and DB9.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Steve_S,

    I could make use of that sort of performance everyday.

    Easily.

    More importantly, happily.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    There are plenty of wealthy people out there that can afford these kinds of toys. As it comes to the Aston and an M3, put them on the track especially if the M3 has the comp package and it will tear the Aston apart. Is it going to beat F430 of course not but then look at the price difference and usability. I can fit my kids in the back of an M3 but oh look the Ferrari only has two seats. I’m not saying these cars don’t have their place I just can’t see the fascination they hold for many. Most won’t ever be able to afford them and you can get the performance they offer in prices much more reasonable. It’s like paying $15 for a cup of coffee that is really good instead of paying $3 for one that is 80% as good.

    Don’t get me wrong the Aston is a beautiful looking car and if I had billions or many, many millions I’d probably get one. But then I’d also have an M3, M5, MX5 and a few more.

    I live in the burbs of Baltimore and there is an orange Lambo in the area. Beautiful car, gorgeous actually, and I’m sure the owner loves it. There is no way in hell he is using it to within 60% of its abilities. And if he is on public roads he’s going to get himself or someone else killed.

    That’s just the point for me it seems like money wasted if you are not really going to be able to utilize it and I just don’t like not getting my money’s worth.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Steve_S

    Thank you for freeing up F430s and V8s for the rest of us.

    Don’t waste your money.

  • avatar
    Matthew Potena

    Steve_S, you are correct in saying that the great majority of people will never drive, let alone own, as expensive a car as the Aston, a Ferrari, Lambo, etc. These cars are for people who appreciate, and more importantly are willing to pay for, the finest styling, performance and technology in cars even if they never will use them to their ultimate performance capabilities. It is similar to people who will spend thousands of dollars for a mechanical movement watch which cannot come close in precision to a $10 Timex quartz. These cars are artistic exercises by their manufacturers. Some people do not enjoy cars in that way, and that is ok too. But for many of us, myself included, getting into a great car for the ride home after a long day is as much a reward as it is transportation. Long live Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, Lamborghini, Pagani, and all of the rest!

  • avatar

    “Long live Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, Lamborghini, Pagani, and all of the rest!”

    2nd, unfortunately my passion for cars won’t pay a Murci Roadster, a 599, an AMV8, a 2.7 RS, a Zonda or whatever . . .

    Most critics are the ones that daily drive the Micra, Polo or Focus . . .

    Having friends with great cars helps a lot . . . being less critical about sports/super/hypercars and even appreciate the smaller things in life. Such as the Micra, Polo . . .

    Hope to win the lottery once though . . .

  • avatar
    schiller

    Sajeev,

    With all due respect I find the Aston a very different ride than you. An emotional experience that is rare on today’s roads.

    First off, it and it’s stable mates are the finest looking rides at any price, inside and out. IMHO the Vantage is gorgeous like few cars have ever been. I think that they make the Bentley look gaudy. Mercedes tacky. Porsches cheap.

    Second, the sound! Astons roar when you start them, roar when you work them up the RPM ladder, and roar when you explode out of a turn and slam your foot down. I think that they sound great! Better even than many a Ferrari or Lamborghini.

    Third, the balance on the road is superb. The mid front engine design makes the Vantage a blast to whip around turn after turn. The Bridgestone’s grippy. The brakes bite hard. The suspension is tight but doesn’t generate the tinny resonance inside that a 911 does on rough roads. I find that it is as solid as any sports car ever felt in your hands.

    I’m no race car driver but I know what I like and a modern Aston is a special thing. They are still hand-built, unique, rare, beautiful, and sporting rides.

    Sure the V8 Vantage would be even better with 50 more HP for giddy-up. But most modern sports cars, the Vantage included, easily exceed the abilities of their drivers. And in the end I find driving an Aston to be an incredible emotional experience in a way that most modern sports cars can’t match.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Schiller,

    Certainly handling quality is subjective, but the Aston’s lack of Corvette/911 performance and grand touring luxury features commonplace on a Buick (auto dimming mirror for starters) is a dangerous mix at this asking price. It needs something more than acceptable performance and good looks.

    This car would be a winner with GM’s LS7 motor under the hood.

    There, I said it.

    At the end of the day the Vantage lacks luxury and performance in both a straight line and a corner. That’s a lot of money for a rolling fashion statement and that proposition is just not cool with me.

    Thanks for writing,
    Sajeev

  • avatar
    orbitmonkey

    AMGs cars are fast, but they handle like crap.

    That’s where the Porsche whipes the floor with these cars.

    Btw, the RS4 is nearly 4k lbs, but its almost impossible to tell. You can’t just read these stats off a sheet of paper, you need to drive the cars before you comment.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I threw an RS6 into a corner and felt all 4000lbs of it. Made me long for a 2003 BMW M5, that’s for sure. :-)

  • avatar
    studbike

    Came accross this article and felt the need to add my $.02

    Schiller is right. Astons are all about balance. In one way or another every other car mentioned here just doesnt have the complete package the aston does. The italian cars are too hardcore, the german cars are too mundane, and the new corvette looks like a ferrari rip-off from the front and a rear-ended C5 (previous model) in the back.

    I agree about the auto-dimming mirror, thats ridiculous, but i happen to like engines that make their torque and power up high in the rev-band. With tons and tons of low end torque, I would never enter the upper half of the rev band on normal roads. Also, in my experience, higher-strung engines usually deliver better fuel economy and driveability at low rpms. Torque is just force, power is distance.

  • avatar
    mastermik

    this is simply the most beautiful car. ever.

  • avatar
    deak

    I have owned my 2007 Aston Martin V8 for 16 months now and I have to say it is one of the most sublime automotive experiences available to a life long car nut. Over the 35 years I have been driving I have owned many Porsches, Datsun Z’s, Jaguar XKE V12, Toyota Supra, Benz’s (my BIL currently drives an SL65), Numerous BMW’s including a current M5, Infiniti G35 coupe, Acura NSX (had three, kept one for 14 years) etc. and the Aston has more character than all of them. Character is what makes a car endearing. It’s the weakness’s as well as the strengths. You miss the point on a numbers of issues and I just wanted to add my thoughts after over a year of ownership. I’ve driven the Aston on a track a number of times and actually far prefer it’s handling to a stock 997S. Yes it has more body roll (which in turn makes it much better as a GT for everyday use) but when pushed to the limit is can be driven very quickly, far quicker than you or I are likely capable of. It is much more neutral at the limit than a 997S and feels more stable in high speed sweepers. In fact I drove a V8 at 165 mph on the high speed oval at the Ford testing grounds and was amazed at the lack of protest. The exterior and interior are the most beautiful I have seen on any car. The build quality and the absence of high production compromises are refreshing in this day and age. For 2007 many of your gripes have been rectified such as dimming RVM and GDO. About the sun visors, they are already so tiny, do you think you could actually put a useful mirror and light on them?
    Bottom line is, I love the car. I think Aston have filled an important niche. They have given us a beautiful, well built car with an amazing interior that in the real world drives every bit as good as a Porsche without having to put up with all the Porsches quirky shortcomings (rear weight bias, plastic interior, no luggage space, Porsche snobbery etc. etc. etc. )

  • avatar

    Looks like I’m a bit late to this conversation, but I’ll chime in anyway. We ran a review of the V8 Vantage in December, and the best way to describe the driving experience is sublime.

    There are faster cars, the V8 Vantage 0-60 time isn’t actually that good. But it doesn’t matter. The overall driving experience is extraordinary in this car. It’s comfortable, the interior is fantastic, the design is one of the best on the road, and the exhaust note is intoxicating to put it mildly.

    Not many other cars do such a good job of making a car you can drive on the street and on the track. If you’re interested, check out our V8 Vantage review.


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