There’s a moment, somewhere between the third and fourth gear, where the magic happens. The road straightens out just enough so you can pull out and overtake.
A squeeze of the accelerator and the Aston Martin Vantage launches you forward, making one of the most beautiful noises you’ll hear on the road: a glorious roar, interspersed with the odd crackle and pop, soundtracks its thrilling acceleration.
It’ll do 0-100kph in a rapid 3.5 seconds, and if you hold your nerve it will get you right up to a top speed of 314kph. The fact that the new Aston accelerates faster than a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 is significant.
The new Vantage is a proper sports car. That 4-litre twin-turbocharged V-8 is a serious engine, but it was all created with a design brief to make it “as exciting and engaging as possible without compromising its everyday usability or making it too challenging for drivers of all abilities.”
It does feel like a sports car, with a firmer ride and a throttle that really bites in. Driving the Vantage on a race track it feels totally planted and secure as it flies into blind corners and through chicanes like a Scalextric car. Most people who buy it will never get to race it like this, but it handles brilliantly. The following day, through the hills of the Algarve in Portugal, with tight twists and turns, it growls and snarls its way though with some élan, but also feels poised through small towns.
With eight gears, the engine stays in the most efficient speed range for longer, while the gearbox’s adaptive software can tell the conditions the car is driving in, ensuring it’s in the right gear at all times. What this means is it feels incredibly easy to drive in every scenario we put it through. But at heart it’s a high-performance sports car. The interior feels like a fighter-jet cockpit and the three driving modes — Sport, Sport Plus and Track — all lend themselves to speed and the thrill of driving rather than touring.
The Aston range has perhaps been guilty of looking a bit samey in the past — clearly an Aston, but never totally clear which model. This has been remedied with 70 percent new components and what the creators call “consequent design” as every line of the car has a meaning or a purpose, but it still looks clean and sleek. The inspiration came from the extreme track-only Aston Martin Vulcan, and the minimised ultra-slim LED lights front and rear give it a wider, planted look, while it’s actually shorter than DB11, or for that matter, a Porsche 911. But unlike the DB11, Rapide or Vanquish, this is the pure drive.
There’s something about an Aston Martin that no other brand, (save perhaps a Maserati), can give you, and that’s a sports car with performance and elegance. Sure, that Lamborghini Huracan will turns heads and is a blast to drive, but it’s definitely not classy — it’s the automotive equivalent of announcing your arrival with a fireworks display and cannonballing into the swimming pool; fun, but extravagantly frivolous.
And yes a Bentley says you’ve arrived, but you arrive after a very smooth and slightly dull drive. This is the best of both. This gives you everything. It’s a killer in a suave Savile Row suit, a beast in refined clothing, and you’ll never need the radio as that accelerator makes its own music.
Vantage is on sale now for approx. AED630,000