Aston takes on the Porsche 911
Aston Martin’s current Vantage, launched in 2005, has long suffered an identity crisis. With design cues cribbed from the larger, more expensive DB grand turismos, and powertrain and suspension hardware that never quite delivered the precision and performance expected of a car intended to tackle Porsche’s quicker 911s and entry-level Ferraris, the entry-level Aston struggled to make a convincing case as a pure sports car. The 2019 Aston Martin Vantage changes all that. With unique styling that’s shrink-wrapped sex appeal, and a chassis and powertrain optimized for performance and handling, the new Vantage is most definitely an Aston Martin on a mission.
The new Vantage rolls on a version of the new DB11 platform that’s been shortened four inches. Though the front two-thirds of the platform is effectively shared with the DB11 V8. Aston Martin claims 70 percent of its components are new or have been upgraded. Among the key changes are a completely new rear end structure that features a solidly mounted rear subframe, and a repositioned gas tank. The Vantage also gets an e-diff—the first ever fitted to an Aston Martin—and rolls on specially developed 20-inch Pirelli P Zero tires.
Under the hood is the AMG-developed, 503-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine that also powers the new DB11 V8. The engine is set low, and as far back in the chassis as possible, to help deliver perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Peak power arrives at 6,000 rpm, and peak torque of 505 lb-ft is developed between 2,000 rpm and 5,000 rpm. As in the DB11s, the engine drives the rear wheels via a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. Aston Martin claims the new Vantage weighs about 3,400 pounds (1,542 kg) and is capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, and reaching a top speed of 195 mph (314 km/h).
In addition to the engine, the Vantage’s electronic architecture is also sourced from Daimler, which owns a five percent stake in Aston Martin. That has given Aston Martin dynamics engineers the ability to integrate the adaptive shocks, e-diff, stability control, active torque vectoring, and electronic power steering functions to deliver optimal performance. Unlike the DB11, the Vantage does not have a Comfort mode. Instead, drivers are offered the choice of Sport, Sport Plus, and Track modes.
That reflects the Vantage’s mission. “This is our Porsche 911 fighter,” says lead dynamic development engineer Paul Fleming. “When you jump in it, it feels like a sports car, but it’s usable, like a 911.” The 911 Carrera S and GTS were the benchmark vehicles during the Vantage’s development program, though Fleming’s team also evaluated the Ferrari 488 and California, McLaren 650S, and the Mercedes-AMG GT S. The suspension is considerably stiffer than that of the DB cars—the Vantage has similar roll stiffness as a 911—but Fleming says he’s managed to dial out some of the impact harshness that’s characteristic of the Porsches. “The Vantage is not going to be the plushest car in the world,” he admits, “but it’s comfortable enough, and if you drive it quickly it’s going to give you the control you need.”
The design team led by Marek Reichman has tightly wrapped all the mechanicals with bodywork that is unmistakably, flamboyantly Aston Martin, but unique to the Vantage. The front graphic is an especially bold take on the Aston Martin grille, and is likely to be the most polarizing feature of the car. At the rear is a full-width taillight that kinks up and along the trailing edge of the integrated rear spoiler and artfully mimics the topline of the grille. The aggressively gestured side view is dominated by large gills on the front fender that are used to bleed air from the front wheel wells.
The Vantage does not have active aerodynamics like the DB11. Instead, it relies on a carefully constructed aerodynamic underfloor, with turning vanes and diffusers directing the airflow. At 100 mph (160 km/h), says Paul Fleming, the Vantage develops about 22 pounds (10 kg) of downforce on the front axle, and 66 pounds (30 kg) at the rear.
Inside is a more extroverted, sportier interior than previously seen in a modern Aston. The 8.0-inch LCD screen at the center of the dash and the infotainment controls on the center console are from the Daimler parts bin, but most everything else looks unique to Aston. As in the DB11s the instrument panel is all digital, and dominated by a large central tach/speedo that’s flanked by two display screens. In addition to navigation, Bluetooth audio and WiFi, standard equipment includes keyless start/stop, tire pressure monitoring, and park assist systems. Being an Aston, the Vantage interior of course features sumptuous leather and Alcantara trim.
The 2019 Aston Martin Vantage is available for sale now in the United States, priced from $149,995 USD. The first cars are expected arrive stateside in the third quarter of 2018.