Aston Martin Vantage 2009 Review
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It is impossible to pick out the 2008 model of the Aston Martin Vantage V8 from a crowd.
Only the most anal Aston spotter will know to look at the wheels, then exactly which set of alloys moves the 2009 up and above the '08 Vantage.
But things change, in every way, when you tickle the throttle.
The Vantage has a bigger V8 engine that delivers big ticks in all the boxes — improved power, torque and economy, and fewer emissions — to justify a midlife update that delivers few visual bragging rights.
There is a new console in the cabin with an updated dash, but the real action is all in the go-faster bits. The gorgeous Vantage body, so obviously from the same family as James Bond's DB9, is unchanged.
“Why would we change something that already is so perfect?” says Ulrich Bez, the head of Aston Martin.
The arrival of the updated Vantage coupe and roadster comes almost a year after the British company moved out of the Ford house and into private ownership. Since then it has been trading profitably, doing record numbers and building the foundation for a long-term independent future. It is even talking to Mercedes-Benz, and other brands, about collaborations.
“We are independent and can talk to lots of people. In the past we have had more Audi parts in the cars,” Bez says. “It's very normal in this business to talk to other people to see what advantages there might be.”
The advantage in the '09 Vantage has all come from inside Aston, with product development director Ian Minards leading a team that has refreshed the engine and done the updating to put some much-needed storage space — and the inevitable iPod link and Bluetooth connection — into the cabin.
There is no news yet on what the changes will do to the price of the Vantage in Australia, where it runs from $245,000 as a coupe and $269,000 as a convertible, but even the jump in the luxury car tax is going to make a big difference by the time the first 2009 models arrive.
The latest Aston engine has increased in capacity from 4.3 to 4.7 litres. Power has improved 11 per cent to 313kW, torque is up 15 per cent to 470Nm and fuel use and emissions are down 13 per cent.
The result is a 0-100km/h sprint down to 4.7sec with a top of 290km/h.
Aston has also tweaked the suspension with a new optional sports set-up and improved the semi-auto Sportshift.
Drivers will know the difference from the console and a plug-in starter that replaces a regular key ignition.
ON THE ROAD
THE big news is the overtaking power of the latest Vantage.
It is quicker in all the vital statistics, but the real measure of a usable sports car is its ability to cover ground quickly and pass anyone who's dithering.
Get caught behind a tractor, a car-caravan combo and a truck running in convoy — as we did on a quick sprint on sensational rounds near the Nurburgring race circuit — and the Vantage is out, up and gone in double-quick time.
There is no fuss or bother, just a clear road ahead and wonderful V8 thunder echoing behind.
The extra pull from the 4.7-litre V8 is obvious for a lot of the time, and that means the work has been successful, with no worry about the cut to fuel use and emissions. It's the sort of work every carmaker is doing now.
Pushing the Vantage V8 to the redline is great fun and comes with a sensational V8 soundtrack. It changes character at 4000 revs, just after the active exhaust switches to loud, and is one of the best powerplants in the business with a smooth response and great punch.
Cornering grip is great in all conditions, but apart from a slightly smoother ride, the suspension does not feel particularly different. It is not something most people will pick, but they will notice the hi-tech key — it takes some learning, and restarts can be fiddly — and the new storage in the centre console.
It's a pity the console design makes shifting so tough in the manual Vantage — you have to cock your elbow at a silly angle to clear it. Aston admits it is a compromise in favour of the Sportshift auto and space for a phone and other small items.
“If you are complaining so much about the console, does that mean we got the rest of it pretty right?” asks product spokesman Dave King, after the preview drive. And he is right.
Some people complain the Aston does not have the straight-out sports-car punch of a Porsche, but the British car is very different in the way it looks and drives. It is very quick, but is best as a very fast grand tourer with the ability to sprint on demand.
The changes to the 2009 Vantage are only minor, but that is because the car was so good in the first place. So keep an eye on the wheels when you see one rumbling past next year.
ASTON MARTIN VANTAGE
ON SALE 2009
PRICE To be advised
ENGINE 4.7-litre quad-cam V8
POWER 313kW at 7000 revs
TORQUE 470Nm at 5750 revs
GEARBOX Six-speed manual and Sportshift, rear-wheel drive
PERFORMANCE 0-100km/h, 4.7sec; top speed, 290km/h
ECONOMY 13.9 litres/100km (13.2 litres/100km Sportshift)
EMISSIONS 328g/km (312g/km Sportshift)
Range and Specs
|Vantage Roadster||4.7L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||No recent listings||2009 Aston Martin V8 2009 Vantage Roadster Pricing and Specs|
|Vantage||4.7L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO||$77,440 – 88,990||2009 Aston Martin V8 2009 Vantage Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data