Aston Martin Vantage review – can it match the Audi R8 and Porsche 911?

Fast and fun Vantage is very different to its predecessor, but fun, and faster than ever

The latest Aston Martin Vantage is a car that shoulders a heavy burden, tasked as it is with replacing the old Vantage, which has the distinction of being the best-selling model ever in the British brand’s line-up. If that wasn’t an onerous enough task, the Aston also faces formidable rivals in the shape of the Porsche 911 GTS, the Audi R8, the Mercedes-AMG GT and McLaren 540C. No pressure, then.

Still, the initial signs are promising as today’s Aston Martin Vantage features dramatic looking styling inside and out, plus it’s the latest model to benefit from the input of minority stakeholder Mercedes, meaning it gets the muscular 503bhp twin-turbo V8 normally found under the bonnet of any number of AMG machines.

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Aston’s German benefactor also provides the Vantage’s electrical architecture, so there’s now cutting edge infotainment, not to mention the promise of trouble-free running. Under the skin is an all-aluminium structure that takes its cues from the DB11 and promises high strength with low weight. There’s also an all-new suspension set-up that’s been fine-tuned by handling guru and former Lotus stalwart Matt Becker.

Early cars failed to light our fire, but we're pleased to report that Aston Martin seems to have fixed early quality niggles and production-spec cars are now up to the dynamic and quality standards you'd expect for a £120k luxury sports car. While it doesn't yet match the all-round ability of something like a Porsche 911, the new Vantage has bags of character and serves up an entertaining cocktail of performance and presence that fits perfectly in the Aston Martin range.

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Aston Martin Vantage in detail

> Engine, gearbox and tech specs - Muscular V8 isn’t as vocal as you’d expect, yet it’s a potent performer. Smooth and responsive eight-speed auto lacks the slickness of the best twin-clutch units 

> Performance and 0-60 time - Traction is an issue off the line but once rolling the Mercedes-engined Aston punches hard

> Ride and handling - Firm low speed ride aside the Aston is surprisingly supple, while handling is engaging and agile, if a little ragged when pushed hard. 

> MPG and running costs - Adoption of the Mercedes engine means better than expected efficiency, although it’ll still melt your wallet when performance is uncorked.

> Interior and tech - Boldly styled and spacious interior is packed with tech, but there are some concerns over inconsistent quality.

> Design - Bold Aston looks great in profile and from the rear, but nose treatment is a little bland.

Prices, specs and rivals

With a starting price of £120,900 the Aston Martin Vantage is far more expensive than its predecessor. In terms of performance, technology and desirability the higher price is arguably justified, but it also puts the Aston on a collision course with some supremely talented rivals.

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Take the Audi R8, for instance. For starters it looks stunning, while in £128,200, 562bhp V10 quattro guise it’s got the Vantage covered for driving dynamics and just beaten for sound and fury – that howling V10 is one of the great internal combustion engines. With its mid-engined layout, all-wheel drive and that Audi badge it's a very different proposition to the Vantage, but well worthy of your attention.

As is the Porsche 911. Porsche hasn't yet furnished us with details of the 911 Turbo version of the latest 992, but the last car put up a strong fight to an admittedly dynamically-hobbled Vantage. The regular 992 is already a polished product, but does lack one aspect the Vantage has in spades: character. It'll be fascinating to get the pair together.

Even Britain itself can field a Vantage rival, though like the R8 it's cut from a very different cloth. Next to Sennas and Speedtails the McLaren 570GT doesn't generate many headlines, but its huge performance and flowing ride quality mean it's as much a cruiser as a B-road thriller. Like the Aston the cabin is imperfect and despite its GT badge luggage space is still limited for touring, but at £154,000 it's another worth considering.

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