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The 2019 Aston Martin Vantage Is a Beauty That's Also a 195-MPH Beast

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 9/12/2018 Rich Ceppos
a green and yellow car in a parking lot: For years, Aston's goal with the Vantage has been to build a Porsche 911 competitor. After spending hundreds of miles in it, we can confirm that the chase is just about over.© Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc For years, Aston's goal with the Vantage has been to build a Porsche 911 competitor. After spending hundreds of miles in it, we can confirm that the chase is just about over.

The public has spoken and the results are in: The new 2019 Aston Martin Vantage is gorgeous, incredible, amazing, sexy, inspiring, totally mega, and "What the &%#@?!"

We didn't intend to conduct a poll on the Vantage; it just happened. Whenever we came to a stop-at gas stations, traffic lights, the drive-through dry cleaners, the parking lot at Whole Foods—people were drawn to the Vantage as if it possessed its own gravitational field. Strangers circled warily, as they might an alien spacecraft. Phones were pulled out, selfies were snapped, and what-is-it questions were posed. The only way the Vantage could have garnered more attention would have been if Melania Trump had climbed from behind the wheel wearing her "I Really Don't Care, Do U?" jacket and a pair of Gucci Aviators. Then again, maybe not. 

The Vantage Is a Car with a Past

a close up of a car© Car and Driver

The 2019 Vantage is everything Aston Martin's history would lead you to expect from one of its new models; this is a company that has historically had to do a lot with a little. So, the Vantage is new but not quite all-new. Its chassis is a modified version of the Aston DB11's. Its engine is supplied by Mercedes-AMG.


Even its name badge has been repurposed, dating from 1962, when it was affixed to the highest-performance version of the DB4. Since 2005, the name has adorned the company's so-called entry-level model, the car this new Vantage replaces. And as for the new Vantage staying true to Aston's design ethos of gobsmackingly beautiful cars—well, just look at it. No one who saw it felt the need to ask us if it delivers on its promise. But does it? 

Since the introduction of the V8 Vantage more than a dozen years ago, Aston Martin's goal has been to dethrone the Porsche 911 as the quintessential sports car. After spending hundreds of miles in the new Aston, we can confirm that the chase is just about over. The Vantage's rear-wheel-drive, bonded-aluminum, DB11-derived chassis is a keen dancer, with sharp-steering agility that makes it lighter on its feet than the stolid, stable, wonderfully communicative 911.

The Vantage's firm ride gets brittle over Michigan's scarred roads—most 911 models are more forgiving of our crumpled pavement—and the Porsche easily trumps the Aston in terms of steering feel. But the Vantage can nonetheless be threaded down writhing ribbons of asphalt at ballistic velocities. Its finesse is impressive. 

This Aston Martin Is a 503-hp Track Animal

a car driving on a city street© Car and Driver

So is its speed. That AMG engine is the same 503-hp, twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 found under the hoods of the Mercedes-AMG C63 S range and the GLC63 S coupe SUV. Tuned here for 505 lb-ft of torque at 2000 rpm and lashed to a quick-shifting eight-speed ZF transaxle, it catapults the Vantage to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and launches it out of corners with stomach-tightening abandon—and an exhaust note that sounds like rapid-fire thunderclaps. According to its maker, the Vantage won't stop partying until it hits 195 mph. 

We took the party to GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan, to see how well the Vantage could handle the role of track-capable sports car. There, with the stability control off and the driving mode set to Track-which switches the adjustable dampers and the electronic limited-slip differential into their most aggressive settings—the Vantage showed us the best version of itself.

It steers into corners with aggressive precision; it's easy to balance on the edge of adhesion; and it doles out power with authority-free of sudden, lurid tail slides, much like a well-developed race car. Its optional ($9995) carbon-ceramic brake rotors proved relentless, consistent, and fade free, hauling it down from 130 mph time and again without protest on GingerMan's short back straight.

Speed Is Not the New Black

a close up of a camera© Car and Driver

If only the Vantage were more accomplished at the mundane aspects of daily driving. The brakes that work so well on the track are extremely grabby on the street, making smooth stops all but impossible. Throttle response just off idle is hair-trigger quick, so you sometimes lurch away from stoplights. (Did those guys snapping cell-phone videos catch that uncool takeoff?) The interior is boomy at highway speeds, registering 77 decibels at 70 mph, so you have to crank up the sound system to enjoy your tunes. We'll attribute the annoyingly loud driveline throbbing we experienced on the interstate to our test car being a well-thrashed example with almost 6700 miles on it when we took delivery.

No excuses, however, can be made for the interior's design and build quality, which simply aren't to the level of refinement you'd expect in a car with a price starting at $153,081, a figure that was quickly inflated to $186,806 by the carbon brakes and a handful of mostly trim-related options. Our test car's cabin was slathered in black microsuede, but that couldn't hide the awkward way the instrument panel fits together or the blizzard of tiny, hard-to-discern buttons on the center stack or the uninspired door-trim panels-all of which gave the cabin a last-generation feel. At least the seats proved comfortable for long hauls, and the infotainment system—also sourced from Mercedes—was easy to operate. 

When the Tire Smoke Settles, the Vantage Is at a Disadvantage

2018 Aston Martin Vantage© Aston Martin 2018 Aston Martin Vantage

If a supercar's sole purpose were to make passersby dream and drool, the Vantage would instantly be rated as one of the best. Doubly so our test car, in its phosphorescent yellow-green hue (Aston calls it Lime Essence). From behind the wheel it is excitement personified. But the best in this rarified class—which encompasses everything from Porsche 911s to Mercedes-AMG GTs to Audi R8s to Acura NSXs—also offer daily-driving refinement and interior accommodations the Vantage can't quite match. 

For everyone who sees it on the street, however, and those who are compelled to possess it for its sheer beauty—and are lucky enough to have the means—those deficits will matter not a whit. In the court of public opinion, the Aston Martin Vantage is already everything a supercar should be.

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