New Aston Martin Vantage brings 656bhp V8 and new interior

2 months ago - 12 February 2024, autocar
Aston Martin Vantage
Aston Martin Vantage
Revamped brawler goes after 911 Turbo with a V8 that's as powerful as the V12

Aston Martin is going after the Porsche 911 Turbo S with a comprehensively overhauled version of the Vantage, which arrives as part of a wide-reaching revamp of the British firm’s sports car line-up.

Touting substantially more power and higher performance than its predecessor, the new Vantage is described by Aston Martin as “the most driver-focused and fastest Vantage in the famous nameplate’s 74-year history”.

Arriving first in fixed-head form with a drop-top Volante expected to follow, Aston’s revamped coupé has not been extensively restyled on the surface. However, it has been comprehensively re-engineered inside and underneath, in line with Aston’s strategy to bolster its sports cars’ dynamic and technological credentials.

Headlining this round of important updates is a massive power increase for the Vantage’s Mercedes-AMG-derived V8. 

Still 4.0 litres in capacity and blown by a pair of turbos, but with output hiked to 656bhp and 590lb ft, the revised eight-pot now makes the standard Vantage as quick as the outgoing V12 Vantage: 0-62mph is dispatched in just 3.5sec and top speed is rated at 202mph.

For reference, the previous V8 car produced 503bhp and 505lb ft, needed half a second more for the 0-62mph sprint and topped out at 195mph.

The hikes are the result of an “extensive” tuning programme that has given the motor new cam profiles, tweaked compression ratios, improved cooling (courtesy of a new lower radiator and two extra auxiliary coolers) and, crucially, bigger turbochargers.

An added benefit of all these changes is that the engine now has a “more visceral and more vocal character”.

Adjustments to the ratios and calibration of the eight-speed automatic gearbox also mean the Vantage is claimed to have “punchier” in-gear acceleration and snappier shifts – as well as more distinct characteristics in each of the drive modes.

The aluminium chassis has been extensively revised as well, in the name of improved rigidity and engagement. The front cross-member has been moved rearwards to make the front suspension mounting points more rigid, for example, and the new engine bay brace is both lighter and stiffer.

Aston also claims the rear end is up to 29% stiffer under load, courtesy of added reinforcements and new under trays, and says that overall the improvements will boost handling balance, driver feedback and refinement.

Just as significant are the new adaptive dampers, which have a much greater ability to distribute force across the chassis and thus provide “an immense range of control and speed of response”. Aston also touts the benefits of the ‘non-isolated’ steering column, essentially meaning the rubber has been removed from the connection with the steering rack to give a more “direct and uncorrupted” response to steering inputs.

Rounding off the chassis overhaul are new – and bespoke – Michelin Pilot Sport S 5 tyres, wrapped around staggered-width, 21in forged alloy wheels, which have been designed to “remove every gram of excess mass without compromising strength or aesthetics”.

All of these revisions are supported by an overhauled dynamics controller that measures movement across six dimensions – surge, heave, sway, roll, pitch and yaw – and reacts accordingly. The rate of intervention, says Aston, is now “always perfectly judged”.

Aston chief technology officer Roberto Fedeli said that while the Vantage “will make headlines for the huge increases in power and torque over the outgoing model”, it is “the vivid way in which it deploys such immense performance that will seduce enthusiasts and purists”.

Visually, the new car is marked out from its predecessor by a 30mm increase in width and a revamped front end, inspired by the One-77, that incorporates a much larger grille – 38% larger, to be precise – and new-look matrix LED headlights. Other new features include a decorative side strake modelled on that of the previous Vantage, frameless mirrors and flush electronic door handles.

But the real transformation is inside, where the Vantage follows the DB12 in ushering in a completely new cockpit arrangement that majors on connectivity, engagement and refinement.

There’s now a touchscreen for the first time, measuring 10.25in and running a bespoke Aston-developed infotainment platform that connects to a dedicated smartphone app and ushers in a raft of new in-car and connectivity functions. These include 3D live mapping, wireless smartphone mirroring and last-mile on-foot navigation.

The car’s occupants can also use the touchscreen to find a restaurant, read reviews and set it as a destination – or they can do this ahead of time on a phone and send it to the car so it’s loaded up when they get in.

Despite the focus on digitisation, Aston Martin remains a defender of the ‘positive tactility’ of physical switches so it has retained them for the climate control stack, gear selector and drive control switch – as well as the override buttons for the ESP, exhaust, lane assist and parking sensors.

Production of the new Vantage will begin in the coming weeks in preparation for the first customers receiving their cars in the second quarter of the year. Aston has yet to reveal official pricing, but Autocar understands it will start at £165,000, representing a sizeable increase over the previous car’s price, to go with the huge bumps in power, pace and functionality.

There is no word yet on whether we can expect the V8 engine to be further ramped up for any special-edition Vantage models in the vein of the previous, track-honed AMR and F1 cars.

Nor has Aston given any indication of plans to electrify the Vantage line. However, its V8 already features in Mercedes-AMG’s first plug-in hybrids, including the SL 63 S E Performance, which has a similar footprint and silhouette to the Vantage and packs a monstrous 804bhp and 1047lb ft.

Could dropping the V12 be the key to making the Vantage better?

Consigning the old V12 Vantage to the history books seems to have freed the hands of Aston Martin with the new Vantage.

They needn't worry now about encroaching onto territory that ought to be left for a 12-cylinder range-topper that's coming at an as-yet-unconfirmed time. They needn’t stop and think: “Hold on, isn’t this a bit too much?” They can just turn the volume up and let the V8 explore all of its potential. And since this one has a fair bit more torque than the last V12 Vantage had anyway, it’s pretty clear that’s precisely what they’re doing.

They’ve also clearly corrected whatever hardware problems prevented the use of the old Vantage’s electronic locking differential on the last V12 (which caused its slightly scruffy limit handling). The new Vantage’s e-diff, managed as it is by the next-level ‘chassis brain’, should allow it to put down its torque in a way the V12 Vantage simply couldn’t. And for a powerful, front-engined, rear-driven sports car, that should make a transformative difference.

Much will depend on Gaydon’s particular calibration of so many active systems. The old V8 Vantage’s rear axle was always just a shade too unruly on track for my liking: unerringly stable on a trailing throttle but then suddenly quite wild under power with the stability control dialled back, with something of a dynamic gulf in between the two states. If I could have changed one thing about it, that would have been it, so here’s hoping someone at Aston Martin felt the same.

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