This, my friends, is the one to pay attention to because it has potential to unseat your dream car. Aston Martin’s top-end Grand Tourer, the DB11, is designed for maximum opulence. True, there’s a massive amount of sporting intent wired into that car, but in the end, it’s made to cruise (very fast). The all-new Aston Martin Vantage ($149,995) is made to bare-knuckle box Porsche, McLaren, Audi, Jaguar and any other two-seat sports car in the $150K range.
I secretly visited the car in an all-white photo studio a few weeks back — its poison-green paint hissing away as it seared the scenery. In person, it’s somehow more striking than the DB11 in that it looks crazy. Shorter, hunched like it’s set to pounce; a little rabid, a lot futuristic. The hood is impossibly smooth and wide, the “side gills” behind its front wheel seem large enough to vacuum up clouds from the sky (their actual purpose is to off-gas pressured air from the wheel well). My favorite feature is the hatchback, which erupts from the continuous taillight: a sign that there is not, and never will be, a rear seat in this car.
The engine is in front — a 503-horsepower, twin-turbo V8 set just-so for perfect 50/50 weight distribution in a sub-3,400-pound car. It’ll slam to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and top out at 196 if you forego a heavy lunch. An electronic differential (AM’s first) out back helps put the power down.
So, power- and performance-wise, the Vantage is more or less on par with other cars in its price range. What matters most to me is that it relies on the tried-and-true, traditional V8-up-front layout we Americans love so much. So do Brits, of course: probably the most direct competitor to the Vantage is Jaguar’s F-Type SVR, but where that car is the highest-end variant in its lineup, this base-level Vantage will only get crazier from here. Still, it’ll run with — and compete for enthusiast buyers with — the Porsche 911 Turbo and Mclaren 570S and Audi R8. What it’ll come down to, I think, is looks and brand interest. Those other guys are nice in their own rights, but this car has a significant ad-Vantage (sorry): it’s a totally new car. The others are all old variants on a theme from companies that can’t do things nearly as fun as Aston Martin can.
That’s what I think, at least. I’ll withhold all judgment until I drive it.