“Snap, crackle and pop” used to be sounds that people of a certain age associated with breakfast cereal — until 2005, when Aston Martin pulled the wraps off its all-new V8 Vantage, a car that not only looked sublime but also came with a free soundtrack that made pedestrians glance over their shoulders in fear of an impending earthquake.
It’s hard to believe now, but until the arrival of the Vantage most exhaust notes simply ‘happened’, or were deliberately muted for civility’s sake — but Aston’s chairman of the day, Dr Ulrich Bez, recognised that the ‘voice’ of a high-performance car was very much part of what gave it a soul. So he had the ‘silencers’ of the Vantage designed to be as sporty as possible, with a shamelessly ear-splitting ‘snap, crackle and pop’ on the overrun.
That — combined with the car’s deliciously taut and muscular bodywork, aluminium architecture and impressive driving dynamics — helped to put the once ailing marque back on the map, and the Vantage became the most successful Aston in history with 25,000 being sold — not bad, considering the fact that the firm had previously built just 16,000 cars between its founding in 1913 and its takeover by Ford nearly 80 years later.
"The Vantage became the most successful Aston in history..."
That original, new generation V8 Vantage (and its variants, which included the sublime V12 version) remains a special car, but recent years have seen it seriously outclassed by the opposition.
A replacement was therefore long overdue… and is now here, in the form of an all-new Vantage that represents one of the important pillars in the plan formulated by Dr Andy Palmer, CEO of four years, who is aiming for a clearly defined range of cars that cover Aston’s key sectors of GT, Super GT and Sports.
The Vantage leads the latter and, if our test drive on Portugal’s Autodromo Internacional do Algarve and 200 miles of surrounding roads was anything to go by, it’s set to make the success of its predecessor pale into insignificance.
On first sight, the car is clearly descended from the old Vantage — but closer examination reveals more than a hint of the shark-nosed DB10 that was built especially for the James Bond movie Spectre.
The shape of the new Vantage is entirely its own, however, with a more aerodynamic line that’s highlighted by side gills that extract air pressure from the front wheel arches, a highly functional front splitter and rear diffuser, and ultra-slim LED lighting that’s very much integrated into the bodywork rather than looking like a bolt-on addition.
Front and rear overhangs are about as minimal as they possibly could be, and the weight distribution is claimed to be 50-50 — a Holy Grail for any sports car designer.
And inside, there’s no mistaking the car’s sporting intent. Driver and passenger sit low, the positioning of all the important controls has been carefully thought out, the paddle shifters have been designed to be ‘there’ at all times, regardless of steering wheel position — and the expansive windscreen and refreshingly slim pillars mean you can actually see what’s around you in a way that is becoming rare in modern automotive design.
A combination of an all-aluminium structure clad with steel and composite panels keeps the car relatively light , but the jewel in the crown is the fabulous four-litre, twin turbocharged V8 engine. It’s not Aston’s own, but supplied by AMG (with a few Aston-specific tweaks — notably to the ‘music’ it puts through the exhaust system).
Even the most patriotic Aston fan will probably agree that having a bit of bulletproof German engineering under the bonnet is favourable to the car running an in-house engine; especially those who might have experienced some of the reliability problems of the previous generation Vantage.
One thing’s for sure: the AMG motor isn’t short of grunt, pushing out a claimed 503 horsepower. What’s most impressive, however, is the torque. It’s immense and, combined with the fact that the car’s stability controls have been tuned to allow it to be a little more lively than we’ve come to expect, means the Vantage is one sports car which requires the driver to be properly in control.
The old one had a similar character, and if you liked that, you’ll LOVE its offspring — especially when it becomes available in manual gearbox form in a few months’ time.
But that might be another story…
- Aston Martin Vantage
- Engine: four litre, twin turbo V8
- Power: 503 bhp
- Torque: 685 Nm from 2,000 rpm
- 0-60mph: 3.5 seconds
- Top speed: 195mph
Aston Martin Vantage 2019
Or perhaps you’re looking for something more submergible? Try the new£4m Aston Martin Submarine…