What's New for 2010
The 2010 Aston Martin V8 Vantage coupe and roadster get a slightly revised grille and mirror design along with a few welcome additions to the standard features list.
George Clooney's good-looking, right? Go ahead guys, you can admit it. And gals, no need to answer. Yet Mr. Clooney isn't just a pretty face, with award-winning talent and a genial demeanor. Now consider the 2010 Aston Martin V8 Vantage. It, too, is more than just a pretty face. The Vantage may not possess the ultimate performance of some other sports cars, but when it comes to delivering the goods while looking good at the same time, the Vantage is out of sight.
There's certainly nothing up in the air about the V8 Vantage's styling -- it's one of the most beautiful cars on the road. What's more important then is the performance resume it brings to the table. Packing a 4.7-liter V8, the Vantage pumps out 420 horsepower and can dispatch a 0-60 run in an estimated 4.7 seconds. That's not the swiftest time amongst its peers, but the seductive rumble and roar of its dual exhausts are enough to make you belt out "Rule Britannia" and drive it from dusk till dawn.
Similarly, the handling may not be quite race-ready, but the Vantage coupe and roadster are no effete boulevard cruisers. The chassis and suspension are tuned for impeccable body control, while steering response and feel certainly instill a great deal of confidence. The Sport Pack enhances handling even further. Like all Aston Martins, the Vantage's balance between handling and a compliant ride is beyond reproach. Whereas driving most exotic sports cars on a road trip would be considered intolerable cruelty, cross-country in a Vantage would be a comparably pleasant experience.
Inside, the Vantage boasts virtually the same controls and design as its three more expensive Aston Martin siblings. You can't get all the same personalization options like multiple wood trims, but the same full-leather interior available in multi-tone color combinations is available. Also shared with the Aston family is the ECU, or Emotion Control Unit, which is the fancy key fob constructed of stainless steel 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.
Of course in this segment there are a lot of pretty faces and oftentimes with a lower price tag, more performance and more standard features. There are the good Germans -- the Audi R8 and the many varieties of Porsche 911 -- while the Roadster further stacks up with the Mercedes SL and Jaguar XKR. The Maserati Gran Turismo isn't as athletic as the 2010 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, but it's certainly got the pretty thing down. Yet ultimately so much of this class comes down to choosing the car that represents a perfect storm of style, performance, comfort and price. So if the V8 Vantage tickles your fancy and you've got the cash, well, good night and good luck.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is a two-seat sports car available in hatchback coupe or soft-top roadster body styles. Standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels, performance tires, a limited-slip differential, xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, automatic power fold mirrors, automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, a four-way power passenger seat, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, full leather interior, faux-suede Alcantara headliner, a battery disconnect switch (for extended disuse), a navigation system, and a 160-watt stereo with six-CD changer, USB audio jack and iPod interface. The roadster adds a fully automatic soft top.
Options include 19-inch wheels, cruise control, heated seats, memory functions, passenger seat-height adjustment, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, a navigation system, satellite radio and a Bang & Olufsen audio system. The Sport Pack adds lightweight forged alloy wheels and revised springs, dampers and antiroll bars. 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 2010 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 4.9 seconds. Fuel economy is 12 city/19 highway mpg and 14 combined mpg with the manual transmission, and it's a bit better with the automatic.
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 and Bluetooth 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. On a curvy road, the 2010 Aston Martin V8 Vantage moves confidently while feeding its driver useful information about what's happening at pavement level. It also 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.