New & Used Aston Martin Vantage: In Depth
2015 Aston Martin Vantage GT12Enlarge Photo
The Aston Martin Vantage is a two-seat high-performance luxury sports car available in both coupe and convertible forms. It has the lowest entry price of any model in the Aston range, but despite that the Vantage still manages to deliver a high standard of performance, in part thanks to its small size. Help also comes from the V-8 and V-12 engines on offer, while the James Bond factor plays into its undeniably gorgeous Aston shape. Racing-inspired variations also bring up the Vantage's reputation, and some of them also raise the already not inconsequential price up beyond the other models.
For more details on the current model, read our the 2015 Aston Martin Vantage review.
The Vantage has a long and distinguished--though somewhat disjointed--history within Aston Martin. The Vantage name has been appended to vehicles in fits and starts since 1951, when it debuted on the DB2 Vantage. After a two-year run, the Vantage name saw an eight-year hiatus until 1961-63 when it returned for the DB4 Vantage. That began a succession of cars running through 1969, including the DB5 and DB6 Vantages.
All of the DB-prefixed Vantages evolved a common theme of design and performance that built the Vantage name and, in many respects, Aston's period reputation for style and speed.
Following the original DB-series Vantages, another short hiatus saw the name lie dormant until its return for a two-year run in 1972 as, simply, the Vantage. Returning once again in 1977, the V8 Vantage would run until 1989. In 1986, a Vantage Volante convertible joined the coupe, also ending its run in 1989.
This second batch, the V8 Vantages, took both the name and the Aston Martin brand in new directions, both stylistically and in terms of performance. Almost a sort of luxurious British muscle car, the Vantages of this era were V-8 powered (as the name implies), larger, heavier cars that moved into the grand touring realm.
From 1999 to 2003, the DB prefix returned with the DB7 V12 Vantage, bringing with it another advance, this time into the modern era of Aston Martin design and proportions. This car was designed during Ford's ownership of both Aston and Jaguar, and the DB7 began life as a concept for an F-Type that wasn't built. Based on a modified Jaguar XJS platform, the 420-horsepower DB7 V12 Vantage nevertheless managed to stake out its own territory in the exotic sports car world.
That, finally, brings us to the current Vantages. Re-launched in 2005 as the V8 Vantage, and joined in 2009 by the V12 Vantage, the current crop of sports cars and near-supercars bearing the Vantage name offers a range of coupes and convertibles, V-8 and V-12 engines, and special-edition models. Today it even includes a racing variant that is available in a streetable version.
The V8 Vantage is powered by a 4.7-liter V-8 engine rated at 420 horsepower and 361 pound-feet of torque. A choice of either six-speed manual or seven-speed Sportshift II automatic transmissions is available. All current Vantage models are rear-wheel drive.
Before the 2015 model year, V12 Vantages used a 6.0-liter V-12 engine that was good for 510 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. So equipped, the Vantage was able to hit 60 mph in a scant 4.2 seconds and go on to a top speed of 190 mph. The larger engine added just 110 pounds compared to the weight of a V8 Vantage.
Aston Martin replaced the V12 Vantage in 2015 with the V12 Vantage S. The 6.0-liter V-12 engine was upgraded to 565 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque. The manual transmission was dropped, and it went automatic-only with a single-clutch Graziano transmission used elsewhere in the Aston lineup. With this combination, the V12 S can hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and run on to a top speed of 202 mph. The V12 S also benefits from three-stage adaptive damping, a new exhaust system, and new power steering.
An S version of the V8 Vantage coupe and roadster is also available. It offers an extra 10 horsepower over the standard V8, for a total of 430 hp, along with a different suspension tune, additional styling flourishes, and more standard equipment than on the regular V8. It now uses a seven-speed transmission in place of the six-speed unit from before.
A Vantage GT model joined the range in 2015 as an entry point to the brand, lowering the price without reducing style or performance. The Vantage GT uses the same engine and transmissions as found in the standard V8 Vantage.
Aston has announced that it will build 100 examples of what was originally to be called the Vantage GT3, a slightly toned down race car for the road. It makes use of carbon fiber everywhere, including the roof and hood, and is powered by a massaged version of the corporate V-12 that makes 582 hp. Shortly after the variant was unveiled, Porsche took issue with the GT3 name, as it uses it on high-performance 911s, and so Aston agreed to change the name to GT12. The Vantage GT12 will go on sale later in 2015, and you can bet it won't be inexpensive.