The ultimate sports car is out there for those with a healthy bank balance. Ed Stephens enjoys the ride.
There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to cars Britain is anything but a classless society.
You can drive the most expensive German or Japanese car and you won’t get a second look. But get behind the wheel of an Aston Martin and even the most reluctant of motoring enthusiasts can’t resist giving it an admiring glance.
Perhaps it’s the rarity value – they don’t produce that many because they are all hand built; perhaps it’s the fact that it’s one of the few iconic British cars left; perhaps it’s the well documented James Bond connection; perhaps it’s because it’s a thing of beauty, or maybe it’s a combination of all of them.
Don’t get me wrong, even with a price tag of £91,000 the Aston Martin Vantage is not perfect. I have my criticisms but none of them would stop me buying one if I had an adequate bank balance.
This car was the V8 Vantage - you can get a V12 version too - which looked all the more impressive in white.
Open the doors and on each of the sills there is a plate which proudly proclaims “V8 Vantage: Hand built in England”.
And that’s what you pay for. It’s like buying a Saville Row suit rather than one off the peg.
You also pay for scintillating performance. Unlike most similar priced German cars, the Vantage’s top speed is not limited and flat out it will hit 180mph, and reach 62mph in the blink of an eye - or to be precise 4.8 seconds.
And when it does put the power down it lets everyone know, with a spine tingling roar from the massive 4.7-litre engine and an exhaust note which could have come straight from Silverstone.
There’s no red line on the rev counter so you can wind it up to around seven thousand revs before red warning lights flash on the dashboard, although the acceleration is so intense that if you are in anything above second gear you will have warning lights flashing in your head long before that happens because the speedometer will be heading towards a three figure number.
On the negative side, it’s not the easiest of cars in which to engage reverse gear, the sun visors are not deep enough to keep the glare out of your eyes and it’s often difficult to read the information from the on-board computer in bright daylight - night times are fine - because it’s written in grey on a dark background.
But the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. The car feels like the ultimate sports car with superb road holding and impeccable handling.
The finest quality hand made leather seats hold you snugly in position on the tightest of corners and are electronically adjustable and the headlining is finished in fine suede.
Aston Martin still position the handbrake on the right hand side of the driver - as they have always done - and when it comes to luggage boot space is generous for a car of this size.
There’s also a little space behind the seats for soft bags - but not passengers.
But if you can afford more than £90,000 for a car the chances are you will have a four seater too, but I’ll bet it won’t have the iconic status of the Vantage - unless it’s the four seater Aston Martin Rapide, of course.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe
Mechanical: 420bhp, 4,735cc, 8cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 180mph
0-62mph: 4.8 seconds
Combined mpg: 20.5
Insurance group: 50
CO2 emissions: 321g/km
BIK rating: 35%
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited mileage