Gaydon, Warwickshire - Aston Martin’s new Vantage is heir to an iconic name. First used in 1951 for a high-output engine option for the DB2, the Vantage soon became a model in its own right.

Much as that first Vantage was all about the engine, the 2018 version is built around Aston Martin’s new four-litre twin turbo V8, rated in this application for 375kW at 6000 revs and 685Nm from 2000-5000rpm, giving the 1530kg Vantage a formidable power to weight ratio of 245kW per ton.

That translates to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 3.5 seconds and 312km/h flat out.

The engine is set far back in the chassis for perfect 50:50 weight distribution, driving the rear wheels via rear-mounted ZF eight-speed automatic transaxle with an electronic limited-slip differential - a first for Aston Martin - that can go from can go from fully open to 100 percent locked in a matter of milliseconds, and is tied into the car’s dynamic stability control system, to keep the car going exactly where it’s pointed.

Significant downforce

The chassis is an evolution of the bonded aluminium structure first seen on the DB11, although only less than a third of its components are shared, and the Vantage has a rigidly mounted rear subframe for more direct feel, albeit at the expense of a somewhat harsher ride. Adaptive damping is standard, offering the choice of Sport, Sport Plus and Track modes, as are new Pirelli P Zero tyres developed specifically for this car.

Aerodynamics are central to the Vantage design; the front splitter directs airflow underneath the car, over a set of fences that send cooling air where it’s needed and feed clean airflow to the rear diffuser to help create an area of low pressure under the car, literally sucking it onto the road.

That, together with side gills that bleed air pressure out from the front wheel arches and an upswept bootlid, generates a significant level of downforce - a first for a series-production Aston Martin model.

Inner space

Rather than the easy-on-the-eye fluid curves of a GT car, the cockpit - trimmed in a hand-crafted mix of leather and alcantara synthetic suede - is laid out in sharp, focused planes, the seats set low behind a high waistline, which may look a little claustrophobic from the outside but actually gives you more interior space and, in particular, more headroom than the previous Vantage.

There’s no gear lever, instead there are buttons for Park, Reverse Neutral and Drive in a V formation on the centre console with the engine start/stop button front and centre, and paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Standard kit includes keyless start/stop, tyre pressure monitoring, front and parking sensors and a 20cm infotainment display on the centre stack for audio, phone and music streaming via Bluetooth or USB port and an integrated satellite navigation system.

The new Vantage is available to order now, starting from £120,900 (R3.62 million) in the UK, for delivery in the second quarter. First deliveries in South Africa are expected in late August or early September 2018; local pricing has yet to be confirmed.

IOL Motoring