Aston Martin V8 Vantage 2006 Review
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Sitting church mouse quiet in a driveway, the V8 Vantage silhouette draws the gaze of passersby in the darkening twilight hour.
The parking lights, a bank of seven LEDs stacked one on top of the other on either headlamp lens at the front, suggest this is beyond the realm of a garden variety performance coupe.
It is a piece of art, this Aston, the most affordable (better make that accessible) sports car from the iconic British company at $236,300.
About 330mm has been snipped off the length of a V12-engined DB9 with the end result, the V8 Vantage coming in $100,000 or so under the odds of the bigger more powerful Aston.
And it is the first pure two-seater Aston for more than 50 years.
Lift the featherweight wedge shaped bonnet and there is a plaque which reads, `Aston Martin, handbuilt in England, final inspection by Martyn Askill' which is attached to a cover for the cooling systems.
Look further into the engine bay and the 4.3litre quad cam V8 is tucked deeper into the nose for sharper dynamics and crisper balance.
It runs trick bits such as a dry sump allowing engineers to fit the V8 lower to the ground to help strike slicker cornering performance through a kinder centre of gravity.
Switching focus to the tyres and brakes and the V8 Vantage runs Bridgestone Potenzas, 18-inch standard (19s are optional) with 275/40s at the rear driving wheels with 235/45s hanging off the front.
There are massive ventilated and grooved discs all round with 355mm (front) and 330mm (rear) discs pinched by four piston calipers.
All this is hugged by a gorgeous body that is a masterpiece of automotive art, an unfettered fusion of elegance and brutal performance.
It looks tough and one twist of the ignition key followed by a press of the push button starter at the centre of the dash and the Aston rumbles to life.
The gutteral tones are governed at low revs yet remain menacing to the ear.
This beat is merely an entree into something much wilder.
The front mid-mounted V8 which is designed exclusively for Aston, changes pitch, rising to a screaming banshee howl beyond 4500rpm which is an aural treat if your heart races to the beat of competition engines at the racetrack.
This change in soundtrack comes once a bypass valve in the exhaust system opens as the rev counter needle strikes four and a half grand.
For a serious bit of kit, the ride quality in the V8 Vantage is quite mute, cushioning blows by surface imperfections at lowly built-up area speeds.
Pleasingly, the Vantage is no rib-rattling, harshly sprung exotic coupe for the suburbs.
It is quite compliant around town but then, like the bypass valve, a new beast emerges when you want to have a bit of a blast.
Once the engine pumps out its 283kW of power (7300rpm) and substantial 410Nm of torque (82 per cent of which flows at a piddling 1500rpm) the ride firms up allowing prodigious body control.
The throttle has a loose feel initially yet becomes modular enough for confident application while the brake pedal is firm, willing the driver to make a confident stab rather than a tentative prod.
Steering is beautifully weighted with a smooth, sweet feel biased towards neutral with only traces of mild understeer.
The chassis, which contributes about 180kg to the cars total 1570kg kerb weight, is balanced and tuned to bring out the best in the Vantage which completes the obligatory 0-100km/h yardstick in 5secs.
A 51/49 front-to-rear weight distribution helps strike razor sharp handling around the twisties.
The short-throw 6-speed manual fits the 4.3-litre V8 like a glove.
Cogs are easily picked off and changes can be smoothed out via a well disciplined left foot that should have no trouble finding the sweet spot in the clutch take-up point.
This Graziano-sourced transmission from Italy is also found in other exotics such as Ferrari and Lamborghini.
The Vantage's body combines aluminium, steel, composites and magnesium and is bonded and riveted, the final profile making it one of the sleekest coupes in existence.
The cabin is supremely trimmed with quality fit and finish, stitched leather door and dash trim and beautifully accommodating yet supportive seats.
Aston has designed a cracking layout with brilliant ergonomics and dials and switches which are simplistically uncluttered yet retain a high level of class and finesse.
It is by far Aston's single biggest achievement over the previous DB7 model.
The V8 Vantage is a worthy all-rounder, as sharp as any Grand Tourer going and as hardcore as most connoisseurs would demand.
Range and Specs
|Vantage||4.3L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$54,890 – 63,030||2006 Aston Martin V8 2006 Vantage Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data