Khodrocar - If the DB11 initiated the latest new era of Aston Martin, then the 2018 Vantage looks to be the full realization of it. Taking cues from James Bond’s DB10 in Spectre, of which only 10 were made exclusively for the movie, the 2018 Vantage significantly differentiates itself from the rest of Aston’s GT lineup. "If the DB11 is the gentleman, the Vantage is the hunter,” says chief exterior designer Miles Nurnberger.
While it retains the Vantage’s basic proportions of a front-engine coupe with a low-arcing roofline, it’s decidedly more aggressive and athletic looking than its predecessor. With its sloped shark nose and its more open front grille, the Vantage seems to be sniffing at the ground for lunch.
A defined crease, not unlike the white streamer lines trailing off cartoon Superman’s feet, extends from the car’s large black side vents, then fades across the coupe’s doors toward the Vantage’s muscular haunches. Standing still, it looks like it’s breaking the law in 48 states.
If the front end of the Vantage is on the prowl, then the rear end is in full peacock mode. All of the aerodynamic elements are incorporated seamlessly within the structural design of the Vantage, meaning there’s nothing to deploy and there are no extra bits bolted on. A complex rear diffuser controls turbulence off the tires and, with the help of the front splitter and the side gill panels, is intended to help create significant downforce.
Despite being two inches shorter than a Porsche 911, the Vantage’s wheelbase is almost 10 inches longer than the current 991-generation Carrera. The long wheelbase and short overhangs make the Vantage appear visually rooted – and it means there’s ample room inside the cabin.
The new Vantage’s interior has more of a cockpit feel, with everything from the doors to the dashboard sculpted in a concave-type fashion away from the driver, like a wavy wall on a modern Frank Gehry building. This creates more negative space inside the car, accommodating a taller driver more easily.
Bond’s bespoke DB10 also inspired the center stack and console, which moves once horizontal elements to more of a waterfall configuration, including the transmission buttons that are now arranged in an efficient triangular cluster. Even the steering wheel is sheared squarely at the bottom, giving the driver more legroom.
Weight distribution is neutral at 50/50, and the 4.0-liter biturbocharged V8 sits as close to the middle of the car as the all-new aluminum chassis, first seen on the DB11, will allow. With a seamlessly riveted structure and aircraft construction, as well as a solid mount rear subframe, torsional stiffness is said to be vastly improved over the outgoing Vantage.
That marvelous Mercedes-AMG-sourced engine, specifically tuned for the Vantage’s requirements, generates this creature's heartbeat. The engine mapping, fuel mapping, gearbox mapping, and exhaust tuning are all unique to the Vantage. It makes 503 horsepower, which is 80 more than the last V8 Vantage GT, along with 505 pound-feet of torque. And at 3,373 pounds, the new Vantage is some 300 pounds less than its predecessor, for a greatly improved power-to-weight ratio. Aston Martin says the 0-60 mph time should take 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 195 mph.
Shorter intermediate gear ratios in the new ZF eight-speed automatic transmission mean the Vantage rolls through them quicker and more smoothly. Sometime after the Vantage’s initial deliveries in the second quarter of 2018, a manual transmission version becomes available, and while it’s purely speculation at this point, we’re hedging bets it will be a version of the seven-speed stick from the outgoing V12 Vantage S.
The new Vantage gets an electronic rear differential, available from Aston Martin for the first time. The e-diff links to the stability control system and electronically varies the torque sent to each of the rear wheels. Adding to the driver’s experience, both traction and stability control can be completely switched off if so desired. To make sure the car is as playful as possible, engineers tuned the torque mapping on snowy, icy roads in Sweden. We love the idea of sliding this thing around in the snow. Good thing we have a Detroit office...
The suspension architecture in the front is the same double wishbone as the DB11’s, just tuned for a stiffer, more sporting feel. And the Vantage now wears Pirelli P-Zero running shoes. Either cast iron or carbon fiber brakes are available.
When asked about a V12 down the road, Aston Martin claims there’s no option currently in the works. "We’re not even sure if (the V12) would fit,” one of the public relations folks joked. We’ll see about that.
The new Vantage, priced at $149,995, is part of the second phase of Aston Martin’s second century plan after the DB11’s introduction. Next in line: replacing the current Vanquish with the new version sometime in 2019. Beyond that, a portfolio expansion with the DBX sends Aston Martin into uncharted, but necessary, SUV territory. A new mid-engine sports car is said to be waiting in the wings, in addition to the reinvestment in the Lagonda brand, and the electric RapidE will quickly jolt the company into the electrification space.
If a major complaint of the British brand is that’s there’s not been enough character differentiation between Aston Martin models, then the 2018 Vantage is poised to clear up any misunderstandings. And if it drives as good as it looks, we’re sold.
Source/Images: Aston Martin