- Fantastic exhaust notes
- Quick acceleration
- Aston Martin style and elegance
- Cabin can be noisy
- Ride is a bit rough
- Clunky, heavy shifts with the manual transmission
The 2014 Aston Martin Vantage isn't the rarest of the brand's offerings, but it might be the most fun--and the best value.
The Aston Martin Vantage is the brand's smallest and sportiest vehicle, as well as the least exclusive, but that by no means relegates it to second-tier status. In fact, it's coveted by enthusiasts all the more for its performance, and, like all Aston Martin's its still relatively rare.
The latest edition of the Aston Martin Vantage sees a number of minor updates to the three variants offered. The new V12 Vantage S replaces the previous V12 Vantage, when it joins the V8 Vantage and V8 Vantage S in the model range as a 2015 model in early 2014. New features include a sport button for V8 Vantage and V8 Vantage S models, and an available upgrade to the sport exhaust system for the base V8 Vantage (it's standard equipment for the V8 Vantage S).
Starting from around $120,000 and moving upwards of $185,000 in top trims, the Vantage comes with a strong standard feature set, including last year's updates, which brought automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and a backup camera.
Under the hood of the Vantage range you'll find the base 4.7-liter V-8, rated at 420 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque, upgraded to 430 horsepower and 361 pound-feet of torque in V8 Vantage S trim. The V12 Vantage S gets a 565-horsepower, 6.0-liter V-12 engine rated at 457 pound-feet of torque. All models drive the rear wheels only, through a choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed Sportshift II (Sportshift III in the case of the V12 Vantage S) automated manual transmission.
According to Aston Martin, the bigger engine in the V12 Vantage S can run up to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and eventually hit a top speed of 205 mph. The V-8-equipped Vantage S manages the sprint to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, while the Vantage does the same dash in 4.9 seconds. The Vantage S and Vantage top out at 190 mph and 180 mph respectively.
The Vantage range is predicated on sharp steering and suspension work, edging closer to sports car-type feel than you'd expect in this kind of luxury class. The V12 Vantage S benefits from a new adjustable suspension system that switches between Normal, Sport, and Track modes that predictably range from supple to sporty. The suspension settings also dictate throttle response and shift speed--even exhaust noises to announce your arrival. For a more detailed description of the Vantage's handling qualities, read this first drive report of the V8 Vantage S at Motor Authority .
The Vantage's cockpit is low slung, with comfortable seats, a straightforward and simple center stack, and good forward visibility. It's accommodating for extended cruising, and incredibly fun for sporty drives, but it's not especially roomy or quiet. A new NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) package is fitted across the range for 2014, however, which may quiet the cabin somewhat.
The interior materials and finish are what you'd expect from a bespoke British hand-built super car: that is to say, painstakingly gorgeous, but also characteristically unique. The cabin is shod with leather and Alcantara all over, with high-end plastics to fill the gaps--wherever they may be. Aston Martin's elegant crystal keyfob is also used in the Vantage, which plugs into the dash to become the starter.
There isn't much room for luggage or other gear, which is par for the course in a performance two door sports car. The trunk is big enough only for a weekend jaunt, and there's very little storage to be found in the main cabin. Considering the Vantage's mission: high speed and beautiful looks, there's not much room for practicality. And so what?
Standard V8 Vantage models (is there such a thing as a base Aston Martin?) come with a decent amount of standard equipment including a 160-watt Aston Martin stereo with CD changer, Bluetooth connectivity, iPod and USB connections, and an AUX-in jack. Power adjustable seats, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, parking sensors, and heated exterior mirrors are also thrown in without extra cost. Moving up to the V12 Vantage adds navigation, memory seats, and a visit from the carbon fiber and titanium fairy for an added look.
The Vantage is also infinitely customizable, provided your pockets are deep enough. Bespoke exterior shades or interior swatches are available from Aston Martin, although the company is somewhat guarded about certain color combinations.
Like other low-volume, high-cost cars, the Aston Martin Vantage hasn't been thrown into a wall by federal regulators or the IIHS, nor is it likely to be anytime soon. The Vantage is equipped with standard stability and traction control systems, and a full complement of airbags.
If you're after high-horsepower V-8s and V-12s, you shouldn't expect great gas mileage--and you won't find it with the Vantage range even if you do. The V8 Vantage and V8 Vantage S rate 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined with the manual transmission, and 14/21/16 mpg with the automated manual. The V12 Vantage S hasn't been rated for the 2014 model year.