Full 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Review
What's New for 2009
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage gets key changes for 2009. Most notably, the V8 has been upped to 4.7 liters and 420 horsepower. The suspension and automatic transmission have also been revised for improved performance. The interior is now more attractive and has user-friendly center stack controls that originally debuted in the DBS.
Styling is a personal thing: a subjective criterion, if you will. As such, we usually don't spend much time critiquing a car's design, figuring you'll decide for yourself whether something is visually appealing or not. Nevertheless, if you do not think the 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage coupe and roadster are anything short of stunning automobiles, we seriously question your aesthetic taste. There are probably orange drapes in your windows and concrete statues of Apollo on your lawn.
So there's no need to explain that the V8 Vantage -- and its similarly styled Aston brethren -- is one of the most beautiful cars on the road. What's more important is that the Vantage is more than just a pretty face, and for 2009, there's now an ever greater depth of character. The 4.3-liter V8 has been bumped up in displacement to 4.7 liters, which along with a number of other enhancements, produces an increase of 40 hp. The standard six-speed manual transmission has a modified clutch and flywheel, which reduces pedal effort and increases engine responsiveness. The optional automatic gains a pair of throttle response modes (Comfort and Sport), while a change in programming promises to optimize smooth and consistent power delivery. The chassis and suspension were also revised for improved body control and better ride quality at low speeds. Steering response and feel have also been enhanced, while a new Sports Pack adds performance and handling goodies for those who want their sports car to be a little more capable.
Inside, the cabin has been updated to match Aston's DBS flagship. The center stack has been completely redesigned with more attractive and easier-to-use climate and audio controls, while the optional navigation system is all-new and hard-drive-based for faster processing. Also brought over from the DBS is the ECU, or Emotion Control Unit, which is the fancy key fob constructed of stainless steal and glass that plugs into the dash to ignite the throaty V8. Sounds silly, but you'll love showing it off to friends at dinner.
All of these improvements are made to a car with an already impressive repertoire of talents. Although not as sharply focused as the Audi R8 or Porsche 911, it nevertheless has a more comfortable ride than the Porsche and is more practical than the Audi. Compared to the V8 Vantage roadster, models like the 911 Cabriolet, Mercedes SL and Jaguar XKR are all compelling luxury drop tops for a lot less money. In fact, the Aston's pricier cost of entry (and steep initial depreciation) certainly make it an iffy bang-for-the-buck buying decision. But in terms of exclusivity, style and character, the 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage delivers in a truly unique way. And besides, just look at the thing.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is a two-seat luxury sports car available in hatchback coupe and soft-top roadster body styles. Standard equipment includes 19-inch wheels, performance tires, a limited-slip differential, rear parking sensors, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way power driver seat, four-way power passenger seat, full leather interior, faux-suede headliner, battery disconnect switch (for extended disuse) and a 160-watt stereo with six-CD changer, USB audio jack and iPod interface. The roadster has a fully automatic soft top.
Options include cruise control, xenon headlights, front parking sensors, heated seats, driver memory functions, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, a hard-drive-based navigation system, Bluetooth, satellite radio and a 700-watt stereo upgrade. There are also numerous customization options, such as special exterior colors, special interior leather colors, piano black interior trim and personalized monogrammed sill plates.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is powered by a 4.7-liter V8 that produces 420 hp and 346 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters is optional. Aston Martin estimates the coupe will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. Fuel economy is 12 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined with the manual transmission.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control, side airbags and rear parking assist.
Interior Design and Special Features
As long as you don't peek over your shoulder, you'll be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the V8 Vantage and the pricier, four-seat DB9. The Vantage has only two seats and there are fewer interior detail options (no multiple veneers), but otherwise the two cars share the same revised center stack, front seats and metallic instrument cluster with its silly opposing speedo and tach rotation. As such, the V8 Vantage features a high-class cabin truly befitting its lofty price tag and its celebrated Aston Martin badge. The same can't be said for the standard features list, with items like heated seats, driver memory functions, auto-dimming mirror, Bluetooth and a navigation system on the options list. They shouldn't be optional in a car priced at more than $100,000.
In terms of practicality, the V8 Vantage falls between the versatile 911 and the Audi R8. Its thick pillars and low-profile windows hamper visibility and tend to make occupants feel hunkered down. Space for most drivers is adequate, but larger occupants may find the seat and footwell too narrow. Still, the coupe's hatchback cargo area provides 10.6 cubic feet of usable space, while the drop top's traditional "boot" can swallow a roadster-typical 5 cubic feet of stuff. This is one area where it solidly beats the R8, whose trunk is barely large enough to handle a simple overnight bag. The roadster's power soft top raises and lowers in about 18 seconds.
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 and Audi R8, can provide such an enjoyable and exotic driving experience overall. The seductive rumble and roar of its dual exhausts is enough to make you belt out "Rule Britannia" and check your quivering knees. On a curvy road, the 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage moves confidently while feeding its driver useful information about what's happening at pavement level. The suspension upgrades and added power for 2009 make the Vantage all the more exciting. Yet, like all Aston Martins, it offers a surprisingly comfortable ride and is easy to drive, making it a plausible choice for road trips and the daily grind. It certainly makes sitting in traffic a happier experience.