Used 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Convertible
Edmunds' Expert Review
Engaging to drive and beautiful to look at, the 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is an achingly desirable sports car, even if it can't keep pace with Germany's finest.
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.
2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage configurations
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
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Less than 24 hours after the announcement that Ford would ell Aston Martin to a consortium led by British motorsports entrepreneur David Richards, we were in France to drive a model that will be crucial to the company's future.
Aston Martin hopes to sell about 4,500 examples of the V8 Vantage each year, of which around 2,700 will be the Vantage Roadster. If Aston Martin is to succeed as an independent concern, this car needs to be good.
It's a roadster, stupid
A sure way to wind up any Aston Martin employee is to describe the soft-top Vantage Roadster as a Volante. This is the term reserved for the DB9 convertible, which boasts two token rear seats, a V12 and a more relaxed demeanor. The DB9 is a tough car, but it's meant for the more mature, affluent gentleman. By contrast, the Roadster badge implies a hint of attitude. The V8 Vantage Roadster is the car for the serious driver.
It's an image that's reflected in the styling. This is a strict two-seater, and there are two sleek, speedster-style blisters posing behind the leather-wrapped seats. These form the tonneau cover under which the electrically powered fabric roof is stored, and they also hide the pop-up safety bars that provide rollover protection. The Roadster retains the enviable proportions of the coupe, and the car succeeds in looking good with the roof up or down. It's a more considered, carefully integrated design than the rival Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet.
The Roadster's interior is shared with the coupe, which is no bad thing. Some of the ergonomics are eccentric — the trip reset button sits next to the navigation system's controls on the center console — but the cockpit succeeds in feeling special. There is little evidence of parts-bin plundering, as most of the visible surfaces are wrapped in high-grade leather, while the stylized aluminum-trimmed instruments remain a delight.
For the 2007 model year, the seats have been redesigned to accommodate customers who might have had one cheeseburger too many. They look terrific, although those of a slender build might find they now want for a little support. The driving position is good and the Roadster's practicality is boosted by a good-size trunk.
The power and the glory
Anyone who drove an old Aston Martin DB7 Volante will remember the soft-top convertible shook and rattled on rough surfaces as if possessed by its own private earthquake. Structurally rigid it was not. The DB9 also suffers from a case of the collywobbles when shown a bumpy road, but Aston's engineers have worked hard to stiffen the V8's structure, which is derived from the same all-aluminum VH architecture that underlies all of Aston Martin's cars.
A number of structural reinforcements within the chassis have produced a torsional rigidity of 15,500 pound-feet per degree, which is less stiff than the coupe's rating of 19,900 lb-ft per degree, but massively better than the DB9's stiffness of 11,400 lb-ft per degree.
The trade-off is an increase in mass. At the curb, the Roadster weighs in at 3,770 pounds, some 176 pounds (the equivalent of an unwanted passenger) more than the V8 Vantage coupe. By comparison, a 911 Carrera S Cabriolet tips the scales at just 3,263 pounds.
As always, weight has a negative effect on performance. The raw statistics reveal that the 4.3-liter Aston Martin V8 delivers 380 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque, powering the car to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 175 mph. But the Roadster never feels as fast as the figures suggest. You never escape the impression that the engine is working hard to pull the car's mass, and the relative lack of low-down torque means regular forays into the upper reaches of the V8's rpm range.
Thankfully, this is made more satisfying by one of the finest exhaust notes in the automotive world. Employ a modest throttle opening and the engine sounds cultured and relatively quiet, but at full throttle and above 4,000 rpm, a trick bypass valve opens to deliver a sonorous crescendo. It's the same rich, exhaust-led note as that employed by the coupe, but its effect is amplified by the absence of a roof.
The Roadster uses the same double-wishbone suspension as the coupe, but it's been retuned to suit the car's weight and rigidity. Surprisingly, the spring rates have been increased front and rear, but changes to the bushings and damping have resulted in a setup that feels appreciably softer.
The low-speed ride feels more compliant than that of the coupe, making the Roadster a more comfortable choice about town. The compromise is a loss of sharpness in the way the car turns into corners when you're out on the road. The coupe pivots about its nose and is exceptionally reactive, while the Roadster needs more deliberate inputs. Whereas the coupe can be flung, the Roadster needs to be guided.
This car does feel less structurally rigid than the coupe. Attack a challenging road and you'll feel a subtle but definite shake through the steering wheel. It's nowhere near as bad as some soft tops, but it's there all the same.
Inevitably, there are some compromises to pay for chopping off the roof, but they shouldn't be overstated. This V8 Vantage Roadster feels much better than the DB9 Volante and it's fun to drive hard. There's plenty of grip from the Bridgestone Potenza tires — 275/35ZR19 at the front and 235/40ZR19 at the rear — and there are times when the standard stability control feels superfluous, especially in the dry. The brakes also have a nice, positive feel.
A tale of two transmissions
The Roadster, like the coupe, is available with a choice of two transmissions. The six-speed manual transaxle is familiar and offers a quick, positive and satisfying shift action. New to the V8 is the Sportshift option, which uses an automated sequential gearbox with shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel, the same ZF-built unit also featured in the DB9.
We had a sneak preview of this transmission before Christmas, and changes to the calibration since then have improved its performance. You still need to work with the gearbox and measure your throttle inputs to achieve a smooth shift, but patience pays dividends. The speed of the Aston's shifts is slower than those of some other automated manuals — 240 milliseconds compared with 100 milliseconds for a Ferrari 599 — but using this gearbox is no longer a chore. Aston reckons that 70 percent of customers will choose this option.
Searing good looks with a soundtrack
In the U.S., the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster with a conventional manual transmission will cost $126,400 compared with $113,200 for the coupe, while the Sportshift transmission adds an extra $4,000 to the bottom line. This is a huge jump above the $92,800 that Porsche charges for the 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, but Aston customers are guaranteed greater exclusivity. Aston is planning to sell just 1,500 examples of the V8 Vantage in the U.S. each year, of which around 900 will be Roadsters.
When you drive the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster, you get to enjoy a car that blends searing good looks with an emotive soundtrack and a healthy dose of everyday practicality. A Porsche 911 Cabriolet offers more accessible performance and marginally more driver interaction, but this Aston can stand toe to toe. Aston Martin's new ownership can breathe a sigh of relief, because the Roadster looks set to be one of the must-have cars of the summer.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Used 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Convertible Overview
The Used 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Convertible is offered in the following styles: Roadster 2dr Convertible (4.3L 8cyl 6M).
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Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.