Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster 2007 Review
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A lot has been happening at Aston Martin lately. First the British sports car starred alongside Daniel Craig in the James Bond film Casino Royale.
Then it starred in its own big-screen ownership extravaganza, which culminated in a $1 billion move away from Ford and into private hands.
It has also been building up to an attack on the Le Mans 24-hour race in June with its DB9 racer.
And it has been finalising plans to transform its four-door flagship, the Rapide, from a great-looking concept into a showroom contender.
But Aston is a car company, which means it lives and dies by the quality of its cars.
Based on its newest, the V8 Vantage Roadster, which was unveiled last week, Aston Martin is doing just fine and will have no trouble hitting its production target of 7000 cars this year.
The Vantage Roadster is the droptop development of the Vantage coupe. It combines the best of British with a bright fresh-air future.
It looks gorgeous, drives extremely well and has the classic Aston touches that will keep existing fans happy and draw new ones.
It is not cheap, from $269,000, and it is not perfect, with a cramped boot and lousy digital dials.
But it provides more proof of why Aston is ready to fly solo out of the Ford nest.
And why the company is well into profit at the same time as Jaguar is doing it tough with a red bottom line.
"This car delivers a smile. I think a modern sports car has to be like this," Aston Martin chief executive Ulrich Bez says.
"We want to have this attachment you feel to a car. But we don't make cars that do spectacular things. This is the past. No one can drive like that on public roads."
Bez, who has put his personal stamp on Aston, emphasises that the Vantage Roadster is a real-world sports car. not a weekend-only exotic track machine.
The newcomer takes familiar Aston pieces and reworks them for the droptop drive.
It is built over the company's patented VH chassis, which uses lots of bonded high-strength aluminium.
It also uses the 4.3-litre quad-cam Aston V8 engine and rear-wheel-drive.
It has lots of extra strengthening, mostly at the base of the windscreen and below the floor. And it has a new Sportshift automated-sequential manual change for its six-speed gearbox.
The performance is just what you would expect from an Aston with 283kW and 410Nm, with a claimed 0-100km/h time of 5.0 seconds and a top of 280km/h.
Fuel economy is not so good, with a combined figure of 15.0 litres for 100km.
The droptop conversion runs deep, though it has been done with an old-fashioned cloth top and not a new-age metal roof. It is a one-touch operation, which will put the top up or down at up to 40km/h.
It has a heated glass roof and pop-up rollover bars that are triggered in a potential crash.
The boot is behind the roof and will hold two sets of golf clubs.
Aston is investigating a load-through port between the seats to tap the available space in the roof compartment.
Standard equipment is much as you would expect, with heated leather seats, alloy wheels, a punchy sound system and a meaty steering wheel.
The suspension is fully independent, it has anti-skid Brembo disc brakes at each corner, airbags and electronic stability control.
Cruise control costs extra, the same as satellite navigation, and the Sportshift gearbox puts another $8250 on the bill.
Bez cannot see the need for standard cruise control, but admits it will be considered if Australians have a 100 per cent take-up rate.
The first V8 Vantage Roadsters are being readied for local deliveries from June.
No one is talking about the exact allocation for Australia, but Aston intends to build about 3000 Vantages this year and about 80 per cent of those will be Roadsters.
The droptop percentage is expected to fall after the start-up surge, but the long-term prediction is about 50:50.
And the Sportshift is likely to be the choice for at least 80 per cent of owners.
Range and Specs
|Vantage Roadster||4.3L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO||$69,630 – 80,080||2007 Aston Martin V8 2007 Vantage Roadster Pricing and Specs|
|Vantage||4.3L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$59,290 – 68,200||2007 Aston Martin V8 2007 Vantage Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data