Full 2013 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Review
What's New for 2013
Some previously optional features are now standard. Otherwise, the 2013 Aston Martin V8 Vantage returns unchanged.
If you're going to shell out more than $120,000 for an exotic sports car, there are likely three things you'd expect from it: breathtaking style, meticulous craftsmanship and dominating performance. In the case of the 2013 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, it only fulfills one of those three expectations.
As the least expensive model in the Aston Martin lineup, the V8 Vantage coupe and convertible benefits from the seductive curves and aggressive stance of its more expensive siblings. Furthermore, its more compact two-seat body style lends the Vantage an even sportier appearance. Step on the accelerator and a glorious symphony springs forth from under the long hood that reaches a crescendo as the reverse-swinging tachometer swings north to its redline. In these respects, it's a truly inspiring experience, but it's far from perfect.
Based on performance numbers, the V8 Vantage trails other sports cars in its class. It still accelerates and takes turns with impressive results, don't get us wrong, but when it comes to bragging rights, it's best to stay quiet. The interior is also quite inspiring, with flawless leather and several trim elements that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the touch. Upon closer inspection and operation, though, the Vantage once again falls short of expectations. With many controls sourced from run-of-the-mill Volvo vehicles and antiquated audio and navigation systems, the disappointment is palpable.
As the 2013 Aston Martin V8 Vantage enters its eighth year of production, its age is certainly starting to show. Stronger performances can be pulled from the 2013 Audi R8 and 2013 Porsche 911, and neither suffers from interior flaws. But then again, these German coupes don't exactly make your heart race in the same way that an Aston Martin can. The 2013 Maserati GranTurismo remains one of the most visually stunning in this class, but can only match the Aston Martin in performance. All things considered, the V8 Vantage is still quite desirable, but it's more of a purchase one does with the heart than with the head.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is available as either a two-seat coupe or soft-top convertible roadster. Besides the standard Vantage trim, a higher-performing Vantage S is also available. The V12 Vantage is covered in a separate review.
Standard features include 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, power-folding heated mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry, cruise control, automatic climate control, full leather-trimmed interior, power-adjustable seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a navigation system, a rearview camera, a six-CD changer, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod audio interface.
Stepping up to the V8 Vantage S adds a slightly more powerful engine, a carbon-fiber front splitter and rear diffuser, a sport-tuned suspension and upgraded interior trim. These features are available as options on the base Vantage.
Options for either trim include a dark or chromed grille, a multitude of brake caliper colors, a convertible wind deflector, glass switches, carbon-fiber or wood interior trim, a simulated suede headliner, heated seats, seat memory functions, a more powerful premium audio upgrade or a Bang & Olufsen audio system. Aston Martin also offers an enormous number of paint and leather colors along with a high degree of customization.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2013 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is a 4.7-liter V8 that produces 420 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with a seven-speed single-clutch automated manual available as an option. Aston Martin estimates a 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds with the traditional manual transmission. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 15 mpg combined (13 city/19 highway) with the manual and 16 mpg combined (14 city/21 highway) for the automatic.
The V8 Vantage S increases output to 430 hp and 361 lb-ft of torque, while returning identical fuel economy estimates.
Standard safety features on all V8 Vantage models include antilock disc brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control, hill start assist, front and rear parking sensors and side airbags that provide head and torso protection. The Roadster adds pop-up roll bars.
Interior Design and Special Features
For the most part, the 2013 Aston Martin V8 Vantage interior makes occupants feel special. Wide swaths of supple leather adorn most surfaces, accented by contrasting stitching. Even starting the engine has some ceremony about it as you insert the heavy glass key fob (the "Emotion Control Unit" as Aston Martin calls it) into a slot atop the dash and hold it down to awaken the motor.
As the smallest and least expensive model in the Aston Martin lineup, the Vantage features a cockpit that is nearly identical to its more expensive DB9 and Rapide siblings. As is the case, it also suffers from some of the same missteps as those models. By contemporary standards, the Volvo-sourced electronics interface is well behind the times, as is the Garmin-based navigation system. Some of the switches and knobs are quite mediocre in quality and lack the specialness we'd expect in an exotic sports car.
Even by sports car standards, the Vantage's cockpit feels restrictive, though some may enjoy the all-enveloping experience. Foot wells are on the narrow side, though, and may cause some discomfort after a few hours of touring. On the plus side, the coupe's trunk can hold up to 10.6 cubic feet of cargo, but the Roadster's drops to only 5 cubic feet. Deploying or stowing the soft top convertible takes about 18 seconds.
Despite trailing some other sports cars when it comes to performance numbers, the 2013 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is sure to provide a level of athleticism that will thrill drivers. While navigating a curving mountain pass, there's a wealth of communication being relayed to the driver from the steering wheel, seat and pedals. At the same time, the Vantage is easy to drive and won't punish you with an overly stiff ride. Upgrading to the Vantage S further increases driver engagement and its grip on the road, but most are likely to find the stiffer suspension objectionable.
For those who have spent some very fortunate miles in cars that compete in this category, the Vantage may come up short when it comes to acceleration. This is especially true with the seven-speed automated manual transmission that lacks the immediacy and nearly seamless gearchanges of some of the dual-clutch systems.