What's New for 2007
The big news this year is the debut of the V8 Vantage Roadster, which goes on sale in the second quarter of 2007. While a six-speed manual transmission is standard on all 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage coupes and roadsters, a new "Sportshift" paddle-shifted sequential manual transmission is optional on the roadster. Meanwhile, the Vantage Coupe gets more standard equipment, including full leather trim and a revised seat design with an occupant classification airbag sensor, two-way lumbar adjustment and a power-operated easy-entry feature. Basic amenities like dual-stage seat heaters, seat memory and an auto-dimming rearview mirror join the options list this year. Other new extras on the 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage include bespoke colors of leather upholstery, 19-inch anthracite-finish wheels, and wider and grippier Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires.
Aston Martins are known for their unspeakable beauty -- perfectly drawn lines and luscious curves that have had generations of automotive writers thumbing through the thesaurus in search of unused superlatives. Rarely, though, have these classic British cars been able to back up their sleek silhouettes with performance that was any threat to rival exotics or comparatively mainstream Porsches. Introduced just last year, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe is one of the exceptions. It's as lovely as any of its forbears, yet this exotic sports car is a genuinely good drive, too: quick in a straight line, sharp through the turns and eager to involve its driver in the experience. This year the Vantage lineup doubles with the arrival of the 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster.
Take care not to call the open-top V8 Vantage a "Volante," as Aston reserves this nomenclature for its 2+2 convertibles. Like the Vantage coupe, the Vantage Roadster is a strict two-seater. Underneath, both cars are underpinned by Aston Martin's "VH" (Vertical Horizontal) structure, an intricate assembly of aluminum extrusions, steel and magnesium castings and composite body panels, all bonded together with advanced adhesives, self-piercing rivets and welds so beautiful you can run your fingers over them and never feel a bump or a joint. Each body is stretched over a 102.4-inch wheelbase with minimal overhangs, and fenders cover the wheels with devastating sensuousness. The windshield is fitted into its one-piece aluminum frame at such an extreme angle that the car's profile is practically ballistic. The Roadster forgoes the coupe's fixed roof in favor of a three-layer fabric top. Housed underneath a hard tonneau cover, the folding top goes down in 18 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph.
Firepower comes courtesy of a 4.3-liter V8 engine. Although a handful of components are shared with V8s used by Jaguar, Aston claims this engine as one of its own. The V8 develops 380 horsepower at 7,300 rpm and 302 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. By introducing a dry-sump oil system, Aston's engineers were able to mount it low in the chassis. It also sits behind the front axle, so this is very much a front-midengine car. A traditional six-speed manual transmission is standard fitment, but Vantage Roadster buyers can opt for Aston's Sportshift sequential manual transmission. Either way, power goes to the rear wheels.
The 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe and Roadster are positioned as the most accessible vehicles in Aston's lineup, but the asking price is still quite high. The Vantage coupe starts around $110,000, and that price easily rises to $120,000 by the time desirable options such as a navigation system and 19-inch wheels are added. That's about $20,000 more than a fully loaded Porsche 911 Carrera S, which outperforms the Vantage in any test of acceleration or handling. The Porsche also has an enviable reputation for durability and high resale value that this Aston is unlikely to match. Put aside the numbers, though, and the V8 Vantage is an appealing choice for a no-excuses sports car. It's beautifully built and a brilliant performer in all the unquantifiable ways. We have no doubt many buyers will find it as pleasing to own as a 911 -- an experience enhanced by the rarity associated with the Vantage's relative newness and limited production.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
An exotic sports car, the 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is available as either a coupe or a roadster. The V8 Vantage coupe has a hatchback design, while the Vantage roadster has a power-operated soft top. Both cars come standard with 18-inch wheels wearing 235/45ZR18 Bridgestone tires in front and 275/40ZR18s in back. Inside, the Vantage comes with leather upholstery, 10-way power sport seats, an Alcantara headliner, automatic climate control and a 160-watt stereo with a six-disc CD changer.
Many optional features are also available, and indeed you'll need to visit the options list just to pick up basic equipment like bi-xenon HID headlights, cruise control and seat memory. More interesting extras include 19-inch wheels, a navigation system, bespoke leather upholstery (with match-to-sample service), an upgraded 700-watt Dolby Pro Logic II audio system, heated seats and a variety of different wood or metallic trim interior highlights. Although the standard 19-inch tire upgrade supplies 235/40 front and 275/35 rear rubber, you can also order a stickier set of Pirelli P Zero Corsas, which measure 245/40 up front and 285/35 in back.
Powertrains and Performance
Every V8 Vantage has a normally aspirated 4.3-liter V8 engine tucked under its hood that makes 380 hp and 302 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via either a conventional six-speed manual gearbox or a sequential manual transmission with magnesium paddle shifters mounted on the steering column. Getting to 60 mph takes 5.1 seconds in the Vantage coupe and the quarter-mile passes by in 13.3 seconds at 106 mph.
Standard safety features include antilock ventilated disc brakes (14-inch rotors in front, 13-inch rotors in back) with brake assist, stability control, traction control and seat-mounted side airbags. Rear parking sensors and a tire-pressure monitoring system are also included.
Interior Design and Special Features
The V8 Vantage shares its fascia architecture with Aston Martin's more expensive DB9. Quality leather upholstery and a glass starter button that illuminates in red when pressed greet the driver. Whereas the DB9 has a couple of token rear seats suitable only for go-faster babies, the Vantage is strictly a two-seater. Accommodations for most drivers are adequate, but larger pilots might find the seat and footwell too narrow. Outward visibility is hampered by the car's thick pillars. For gear stowage, the V8 Vantage coupe, which is really a hatchback, has a 10.6-cubic-foot cargo area accessed via the rear hatch. Fully automatic, the Vantage roadster's soft top takes 18 seconds to open or close. The roadster has about 5 cubic feet of trunk space.
Though other sports cars costing considerably less money can match or better the Vantage's straight-line performance, none, with the exception of the Porsche 911, can provide such an enjoyable and exotic driving experience overall. On a curvy road, the Vantage moves confidently. It slides progressively and returns to its intended path with little drama, all the while feeding its driver useful information about what's happening at pavement level. The 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe and Roadster are exactly what they look like: seriously fast exotic sports cars that deliver on the promise made by their wide tires, gorgeous sound and svelte proportions.