2013 Aston Martin V-8 Vantage S Convertible Review
What's British for awesome?No Comments
That's quick enough to hear yourself mutter, 'WOW' under your breath.
Whenever you read a review of an Aston Martin, you will usually get a reference (or six) to the Aston Martin DB5 from the James Bond Goldfinger movie. But not here. The truth is that comparing the 2013 Aston Martin Vantage to that DB5 is like comparing the DB5 to a model T. Nothing against the Model T or DB5, it's just that this modern supercar is in a class of its own.
Driving this new Vantage did, however, transport me back in time to the early 1950's. You see, I drove the Aston around the rural roads of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, on some of the very roads that used to serve as the track for the sports car races at Road America, before the modern track was built. That's when racing Astons, Jaguars, Allards, ACs, Ferraris, Maseratis, and other famous marques blasted through the countryside on the long, high-speed, and dangerous road course. While I couldn't reach the top speed that the new Vantage S is capable of, fearing jail time, I occasionally did come near to the speeds that those race cars of yesteryear could achieve. And I'm sure that doing it in this modern day sports car was a much less drama-filled experience.
Not that it matters to Aston owners, but all this power still produces respectable gas mileage of 14 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. That isn't quite good enough to eliminate the $1,700 gas guzzler tax, but when you're spending over $150,000 for a car, what's another $1,700?
The independent double-wishbone suspension, with firm anti-roll bars and anti-dive and anti-squat geometry, does its job quite nicely. Cornering is flat with little body lean, and the S model gets stiffer springs and dampers. The chassis feels solid, although damp British-like weather prevented driving with the top down. All the requisite electronics will help the overzealous driver keep the Vantage S on course without worrying about the back end stepping out of line if the accelerator is pushed too hard exiting a corner. The huge ventilated disc brakes do a great job hauling the heavy roadster down from speed quickly with excellent feel. And speaking of feel, the steering rack on the S has a revised ratio of 15:1 so it reacts quicker to steering inputs, and still offers excellent feedback to the driver.
I'm glad Aston keeps this car as a true ragtop, as it offers sleeker styling lines than most hard convertible tops and also allows for more boot (translation from the British: trunk) space when the top is lowered. And with the luxurious, acoustically layered headliner, this rag top is nearly as quiet as a coupe.
Power: 430 horsepower, 361 lb-ft. of torque
Transmission: 7-speed Sport Shift II single-clutch automatic with paddle shifters
Drive Wheels: Rear
Overall Length: 172.5'
Overall Width: 73.5'
Curb Weight: 3726 lbs.
Fuel Economy: 14 mpg city/21 mpg highway
Base Price: $145,200
As-Tested Price: $157,230
Available features: A 510-horsepower, V-12 version of the Vantage is available. A variety of wheel options are offered, as well as carbon-fiber interior and exterior trim bits, and a chrome grill and other exterior-accent pieces. A 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system is available for audiophiles, along with a nav system.