This writer has spent nearly a decade driving, evaluating, and publishing reviews about a variety of new vehicles. Always left out of the equation were exotic cars, deemed too narrow of a buying group to target a mass audience.
But this week the streak surprisingly came to an end when an Aston Martin Vantage Coupe was presented as my weekly driver. If the brand sounds somewhat familiar, then likely you are a fan of the James Bond movie franchise.
Aston Martin is a British automaker founded in 1913 and became associated with manufacturing grand touring cars beginning in the 1950s. In 1962, the first Bond movie launched and by the third movie in 1964, Goldfinger, an Aston Martin took center stage as 007’s ride of choice. Of course, those cars featured gadgets you can’t get from the manufacturer, such as a rear-mounted water cannon and jetpack stored in the trunk. An even dozen Aston Martin models have made an appearance in Bond films and at least one more is expected when the twenty-fifth model in the franchise, No Time to Die, hits theaters in November.
As for the Aston Martin Vantage, it’s the least expensive of about a half-dozen models, including variants. With a starting price of $152,000 and priced just above $186,000 delivered, our test Vantage Coupe is certainly within the budget of a select few. But we can dream, right? Besides, some of the more expensive models top $300,000.
The long hood, short rear deck, and the taut lines of the Aston Martin Vantage are delightful to behold. There are enough luscious highlights to grab the eye too, including a fat rear haunch that doesn’t block the driver’s view thanks to the unusually large side mirrors. The front lighting elements amplify the gaping mouth. We’re partial to the curving rear lights and diffuser – the Vantage looks like a spaceship from that angle. We appreciated the swan doors that open slightly upward and away from the curb.
Inside, the cabin is snug with a modern cockpit blending the usual useful and technical touchpoints. What’s missing is a glovebox, with storage space relegated to an alcove located directly behind the seats, but within easy reach. The seats are incredibly supportive and dressed in specially cured leather. The bolstering is pronounced, but not painfully so – we’ve sat in Recaros where lower-back pain is almost guaranteed: especially for those of us who battle that affliction.
We were enthralled by the available color choices, but the black and red seats and door inlays never popped as well as they did in our driver. Along with the Onyx Black patina wrapping the exterior, Aston Martin effectively showcases its design acuity.
The Vantage features one powertrain combination and that’s the only one this rear-wheel-drive sports car needs. Under the hood is a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine with 503 horsepower and 505 pound-feet of torque. This handcrafted engine comes courtesy of AMG, the performance arm of Mercedes-Benz.
We’re fans of manual transmissions, but the seven-speed gearbox wasn’t included in our test model. Instead, a fast-shifting 8-speed automatic with steering column-mounted paddle shifters got the job done.
You’ll grin from ear to ear when driving the Vantage. It’s easy to steer, rides well, and is fast. Indeed, as you pick up speed, this sports car seems to hunker down, supplying a wonderful connection to the road. It enters and leaves corners without drama, its fat tires holding tight. An incredible amount of passing power is on tap, ready for you to summon your inner Bondsman. The engine roars and the exhaust bellows a cacophony of unbridled praise.
Aston Martin: Driving Like a Celebrity
Queen Latifah, Halle Berry, and Eddie Murphy are among the handful of celebrities who own an Aston Martin. You may need their fame and fortune to afford one, and the patience to wait as global manufacturing output is limited to 5,200 units annually.
Photos copyright Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
Aston Martin at dusk.