Landing in 2016, the Aston Martin Vantage comes with a new center console design and infotainment system adopted from the more expensive Vanquish.
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Thus the 2016 Aston Martin Vantage’s beauty is indeed timeless. Marking her 10th year on the market, the V8 Vantage and V12 Vantage sibs are just as striking as always. This is indeed a sufficient enough reason they attract their fair share of attention. Quites unfortunately however, the competition has improved markedly over the past decade, leaving the Vantage behind in many respects.
To start with, the V8 Vantage’s acceleration isn’t able to keep up with similarly priced high-end sports cars, although the engine itself sounds sublime when exercised. Though nobody will ever accuse the 565-hp V12 Vantage of giving a slow ride, however, its clunky single-clutch automated manual transmission (optional on the V8 Vantage) feels antiquated compared to today’s slick dual-clutch units that are equally good in high-performance and mundane driving operations.
The Vantage’s old age is even more obvious from the driver seat; first the switches and stalks look and feel surprisingly cheap. However, the center console has actually been updated for 2016 to match the newer Vanquish, but its touch-sensitive features don’t work too well and the “new” infotainment system by the way seems hilariously old. Besides that, the Vantage’s option list lacks some of the comfort, convenience, entertainment and safety items that are now prevalent in luxury performance cars.
There’s however an upside to the Vantage’s vintage that is that the driving experience is refreshingly engaging. Aston Martin designed this car before the advent of turbochargers, advanced stability systems and electric power steering had become the new normal, and while such technologies have their advantages, some would argue that they rob a sports car of its soul. If you tend to agree, the Vantage may still be for you. There’s a degree of driver-machine communication here that’s simply hard to come by these days.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Features
This year’s Aston Martin Vantage is a two-seat sports car presented in hatchback coupe and two-seat convertible (roadster) body styles. There are V8 Vantage GT, V8 Vantage, V8 Vantage S and V12 Vantage, Vantage S and Vantage GT12 models available.
The V8 Vantage GT lands standard with 19-inch wheels, a limited-slip differential, automatic xenon headlamps, automatic wipers, power-folding mirrors, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, automatic climate control, power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), a full leather interior, a simulated suede headliner, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity system, a six-CD changer, USB connectivity and a 160-watt sound system. An optional Technology package includes cruise control and satellite radio.
The regular V8 Vantage has the Technology package, a more comfortable suspension and Aston’s complete range of paint and leather features (the V8 Vantage GT is only available in five exterior colors and two interior colors).
The V8 Vantage S has the same performance upgrades as the GT, but adds a carbon-fiber front splitter and rear diffuser along with upgraded interior trim.
The V12 Vantage, besides its bigger engine, includes a three-mode adaptive suspension, carbon-ceramic brakes, special carbon-fiber body panels and a standard automated single-clutch manual transmission.
Features include 19-inch forged alloy wheels, front parking sensors, leather rear cabin trim, a simulated-suede sport steering wheel (available only in coupe), a convertible wind deflector, heated seats, driver and passenger memory settings, a 700-watt premium sound system and a 1,000-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system. Aston Martin also offers a great variety of paint and leather combinations, plus other customization via its Q by Aston Martin program.
Powertrains and Engine Performance
The 2016 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is propelled by a 4.7-liter V8 engine giving 420 hp and 347 pound-feet of torque. The GT and V8 Vantage S have a version of that engine that produces 430 hp and 361 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission are standard, and a seven-speed automated single-clutch manual (known as Speed shift) is also optional.
In a drive test, a manual-equipped V8 Vantage GT sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, which is quick but ultimately unremarkable in view of its high price tag. EPA estimated fuel economy is kept at 15 mpg combined that is 13 city/19 highway with the traditional manual and 16 mpg combined (14/21) with Speed shift.
The V12 Vantage has a 5.9-liter V12 (though marketed as a 6.0-liter V12 by Aston) engine that gives 565 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. It’s only available with its own version of the single-clutch automated manual transmission. Aston Martin estimates a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds for the coupe; the convertible adds 0.2 second EPA estimated fuel economy is kept at 14 mpg combined 12 city/18 highway.
Standard safety options on the Vantage include antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control, hill start assist, rear parking sensors and side airbags that provide head and torso protection. The Roadster gives pop-up roll bars.
In the car testing, a V8 Vantage came to a halt from 60 mph in 112 feet, a relatively poor operation for a high-performance sports car. Multiple Porsche 911 test cars, as a case study, have stopped about 10 feet shorter on average.
Interior Design and Special Features
For the most part, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage interior makes occupants feel special. Wide swaths of supple leather adorn most surfaces, accented by contrasting stitching. Even starting the engine has some ceremony about it, as you insert the heavy glass key fob (the “Emotion Control Unit,” as Aston Martin calls it) into a slot atop the dash and hold it down to awaken the motor. Then again, most cars today — especially at this price point — allow you to keep the key in your pocket and just press a start button. Also, some of the switchgear not only feels cheap for an Aston Martin, but cheap, period.
For 2016, the Vantage gets the same center console design as the pricier Vanquish. It’s more modern-looking, with sleek touch-sensitive buttons and a revised infotainment system. Those touch-sensitive buttons don’t work well, however, and their displays fade out in the sun. Also, the infotainment system is still antiquated and irritating to use, and while the Garmin-sourced navigation system gets the job done, it seems less befitting in a car this price. In summary, the Vantage’s cabin is just old fashioned.
Speaking of space, the Vantage acquits itself well for a high-dollar sports car. Even tall drivers have enough leg- and headroom in the driver seat, although the four-way-only passenger seat reduces comfort. The coupe’s hatchback trunk is also pleasingly useful, measuring 10.6 cubic feet, though the roadster’s trunk drops to a meager 5 cubic feet. Deploying or stowing the soft-top convertible takes about 18 seconds.
The Aston Martin Vantage gives refreshingly analog driving sensations in this increasingly digital world. The steering has hydraulic assist rather than electric, and as a result transmits more road feel than the systems of virtually every other car on the market. The standard transmission is a conventional manual that’s gratifyingly solid and precise. When driven back-to-back with a Jaguar F-Type, for instance, the Vantage feels notably more communicative and involving. At the same time, the V8 Vantage boasts a surprisingly compliant ride that speaks to its grand touring intent.
Stepping up to the V12 Vantage gives weight and firms up the ride, but also pours on a tsunami of power. Unfortunately, the V12’s standard “Speed shift” single-clutch automated manual transmission is antiquated in a not-so-charming way. The market has moved on to dual-clutch units that are vastly more refined, whereas the Aston’s clunky shifts evoke a teenager learning to drive.