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TCC: 2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage

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Link: http://www.thecarconnection.com/Vehicle_Re...S184.A9188.html

2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Is this Britain’s answer to the Porsche 911?
by Paul A. Eisenstein      (2005-09-05) 



Few automakers have ridden a rougher roller coaster than Aston Martin. The venerable British brand has been insolvent seven separate times during its 91-year history, and at one point, back in 1977, its very survival hinged on the sale of a single car to a wealthy Londoner whose taste for good wine an Aston salesman skillfully exploited.

A decade later, almost on a whim, the struggling company was purchased by Henry Ford II, but even then, the company's fate was uncertain. By 1992, Aston's global sales had plunged to just 42 cars, and due to quality problems, the factory was forced to buy half of them back.

By all rights, Aston should have long ago been banished to the rust heap along with so many other British nameplates. Yet somehow, the brand has managed to pull though every crisis, much like super-sleuth, 007, the secret agent with whom the brand has long been associated.

Indeed, Aston Martin's recent revival might seem the stuff of a Hollywood fable. With the assistance of its American parent, Aston has posted a profit for the first time in its entire history. Sales soared to a stunning 2500 in 2004, and if Ulrich Bez, Aston's energetic chairman, has his way, the numbers will double again within the next year or two. At that level, Aston would actually push past that most successful of ultra-luxury brands, Ferrari.

The key to the turnaround is, of course, product, starting with last year's launch of the DB9 sports car. Now comes what is arguably the most important new model in Aston's nine-decade history, the V8 Vantage. Sharing platforms with the DB9, the new two-seater takes the Ford subsidiary into entirely new territory. At $110,000, the Vantage challenges the king of the hill, Porsche's 911.

To see how the new Aston compared, we headed over to Italy, for three days driving through the verdant hills of Tuscany . The narrow roads, with their fast turns and challenging straights, provided a tough trial for the new sports car, yet as we grudgingly handed back the keys, we had to conclude that Aston had designed one of the best sports cars ever to hit the road.

Pulling into the courtyard of a small villa outside Sienna, we got our first look at the new V8 Vantage. There was an immediate sense of déjà vu, and for good reason. Aston faithfully stuck with the shape of the striking concept car it first rolled out on the auto show circuit in 2003.

The wheel arches bulge out, front and back, accentuating the muscular nature of this sports couple. But the Vantage is no bulldog, the lines flow gracefully, front to back, a study in perpetual motion. Get a good look at the yawning Aston grille as the V8 charges towards you. You won't get to look at it long. Soaring past, the sweeping hatchback flows into a high deck lid, with an integrated spoiler designed to maximize downforce at high speed.

Under the sexy skin, the Vantage has much in common with the DB9, though with a wheelbase of 102.4 inches, the platform has been shortened a bit and there've been very minor changes made to the overall layout. But both share the same bonded aluminum structure. To put the benefits into perspective, the approach helped Aston double the structural rigidity compared to the old DB7, while cutting the weight of the chassis in half. Add a mix of steel, aluminum and composite body panels, and weight is held to a modest 3461 pounds, or nearly a ton less than Bentley's Continental GT.

Lift the hood and you'll under the aluminum crossbraces, Aston has jammed in an all-alloy, quad overhead, 32-valve 4.3-liter V-8 with variable inlet cam timing. Dry sump lubrication helps lower the engine and the overall center of gravity. The beast pumps out an impressive 383 brake horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque. That's enough to launch the coupe from 0-60 in an impressive, if not benchmark 5.0 seconds. (And stay tuned, the ever-restless Bez hints that a track-tuned "R" edition may follow, pushing output up to the range of 100 to 120 hp per liter - normally aspirated.)

We couldn't resist the temptation to fire up that big V-8. Getting into the Vantage, you discover one of the more subtle but intriguing design elements carried over from the show car. Since the handles lay flush with the exterior panel, it takes a moment to figure out how to open the door. Once you get the hang of it, though, it's elegantly simple.

Unlike the DB9, Aston chose to make no pretense of a back seat with Vantage. Instead, there's a small but quite useful storage area complimenting the car's modest but useful cargo compartment - which is large enough to contain a long weekend's needs, or a pair of golf bags.

The interior of our car was a gray-black monotone, elegantly laid out but a bit more sparse than we'd have expected. The headliner was a slick suede, the standard navigation system tucked away when not in use at the top of the center stack. But the feel of the instrument panel was just not quite as sophisticated as in the DB9, with its intriguing selection of materials, such as bamboo.

A minor quibble, of course, but some room for improvement. And while we niggle, there are other slight shortfalls for a car of this price tag, such as the lack of power-up windows.  Launching out of a tollbooth, with our accelerator foot flat to the floor, we want both hands on the steering wheel, not the window button.

That said, we found the seats comfortable yet extraordinarily supportive, even under the most aggressive driving. And the overall layout of the cockpit seemed both more intuitive and comfortable than the DB9's.

We slipped the key into the ignition and pressed the "start" button that dominates the center console. Our reward was immediate, a deep roar as the big V-8 came to life. Aston's carefully-tuned powertrain delivers a resonant baritone that has more in common with the classic American muscle car than the high-tech whine of a Porsche or Ferrari.

The 6-speed manual transmission - the only gearbox offered on the Vantage - slipped smoothly into first, launching us out the villa's long driveway and onto the sweeping back road towards Sienna. The shifter proved silky sweet, with extraordinarily short throws and a clutch that felt absolutely intuitive.

As we wandered through Tuscany , during our three-day sojourn, we had the chance to test the Vantage in virtually every possible condition, from busy urban driving to open highways.

Under hard acceleration, we found power came on a little bit slower than with a 911 Turbo, perhaps no surprise comparing the normally-aspirated Aston with Porsche's blower. But it would be hard to complain about performance unless you're comparing the two cars at a stoplight. Once the Vantage got going, it didn't want to stop, power coming on smoothly until we reached our own limits - well over 125 mph during one smooth and open stretch of back road.

Under most conditions, the independent double wishbone suspension delivered as promised, with assistance from the rear spoiler, planting the Vantage down hard onto the tarmac. But on a few stretches of particularly rough and undulating pavement, it did seem to loosen up a bit at speeds in excess of 100 mph. Even then there was never a sense of losing control.

Steering was as good as it gets, turn-in quick and precise, the Vantage comparing favorably to the Ferrari F430 we had driven just a week prior. Blasting along the narrow roads of Tuscany requires a high degree of faith in the car you're driving. You often need to skitter out of the way of oncoming traffic, and the best way to describe the Vantage is intuitive.

Braking proved equally impressive, the oversized rotors and discs firmly and confidently scrubbing off speed in an instant.

Our co-pilot, photographer/writer Winston Goodfellow, is convinced the new V8 Vantage is the best sports car on the road today. Considering the range of options, we're reluctant to assign that superlative, but it is a tempting description that would be difficult to debate against. 

Whether Aston will be able to convert loyal Porsche owners remains to be seen, but there are plenty of other aspirants who've got the money and are ready to move up. For them, the new Vantage is going to be a tempting attraction. The car is strikingly attractive, reasonably roomy and incredibly fun to drive. At $110,000, it is - in this class - a bargain. Add the allure of the Aston name and we wouldn't be surprised if the British maker achieves its admittedly aggressive sales goals.

This is the car we expect to firmly plant Aston Martin's flag in the competitive supercar segment. For decades, the automaker was a quirky alternative. With the debut of the V8 Vantage, it is a serious challenger to the established order - and certain to ensure Aston's long-term survival.



2006 Aston Marting V8 Vantage
Base price: $110,000

Engine: Quad overhead, 32-valve 4.3-liter V-8 with variable inlet cam timing, 383 hp/302 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 172.5 x 73.5 x 49.4 in
Wheelbase: 102.4 in
Curb weight: 3461 lb
Fuel economy (EPA cty/hwy): 12/18 mpg
Safety equipment: Dual front and side airbags; four wheel anti-lock brakes, alarm and immobilizer
Major standard features: Power windows, doors and mirrors, power seats, 160-watt audio system with CD player, trip computer and navigation system

Warranty: Four year/50,000 miles


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This is one of my favorite auto designs currently. Absolutely beautiful. I did notice it has these bars on side window...is that a trend or something?....noticed MX-5 has it too. I don't like them. Clutters things.
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I don't get the resurgance of fixed vent windows on modern cars. New Miata, Eclipse, new Yaris, Endeavor, old RX300, new Civic, this thing. They're totally vestigial and only clutters smooth design and makes it look like someone half-assed in the engineering department.
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We looked over a few slightly older Astons this weekend and I gotta say they are soooooooo nice. Gotta be that Aston green though, no other color would do. Even the dashs in the older DB5's and 4's were soooo nice. Great stying inside and out. I truely hope this time they can get their feet planted firmly in this almost hobby type car market.
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I don't get the resurgance of fixed vent windows on modern cars. New Miata, Eclipse, new Yaris, Endeavor, old RX300, new Civic, this thing.

They're totally vestigial and only clutters smooth design and makes it look like someone half-assed in the engineering department.

[post="10065"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


I'm just guessing here, but the cars you mentioned all have steeply raked winshields, leading to some large square footage for the front passenger windows. In some cases the window may be too large for the whole thing to roll down into the the door, especially with the extra bracing now found in the doors for improved crashworthiness.

By designing the vent into the side windows, they're reducing the length of the window that's sliding down into the door. I'd imagine in some cases that's the only way the window will slide all the way down.

Just a thought,

-RBB
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I love Astons. Beautiful GT's that are almost perfect and very exclusive.
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Beautiful car, horrible color. I'm with Raz, a nice British Racing Green makes any Aston perfect. The color shown above makes me want to add a large spoiler, some Chinese letter stickers to the windows and some neons. Not what belongs in an Aston Martin.
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Beautiful car, horrible color.  I'm with Raz, a nice British Racing Green makes any Aston perfect.  The color shown above makes me want to add a large spoiler, some Chinese letter stickers to the windows and some neons.  Not what belongs in an Aston Martin.

[post="10756"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



You gotta problem with yellow? :angry:

-RBB
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You gotta problem with yellow? :angry:

-RBB

[post="10971"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

On an Aston Martin, yes.
Otherwise I think it looks good on certain vehicles, including the Mazda 6 and the Ford Escape, which looks better in yellow than any other color. A Civic rolling dubs doesn't look good in any color, but yellow draws far more attention to the idiocy that goes into these.
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Aston Martin Green is quite a bit different than BRG. Much nicer, I really dont like BRG.

Yellow is excellent color for 68+ Corvettes, Lamborghinis, and I saw a super sexy Yelow Lotus Elise I just can not get over.

Side A pillor windows
1. Give straight edge to track with. The triangle windows have been lots of problems only tracking at the rear. With these extrreme raked windshields its even more of a problem
2. Add more rigidity
3. Remove the wind deflection issues comming from mirror, Im willing to bet there is less turbulence comming in the window. I miss functioning vent windows, lots of class plus just the right amount of ventilation when its cool out without the noise and wind turbulencefrom cracking a window.

I want them to bring back opening vent windows damn it ! For what we are paying for cars we should be getting something for it besides more air bags. You know what they say about "air bags" :P
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Aston Martin Green is quite a bit different than BRG. Much nicer, I really dont like BRG.


Is AM Green the one that isn't as dark? If so I think I know what you're talking about, and its also very nice. I really like BRG on most cars, but I like the way most cars look in really dark colors. They're just a pain in the ass to keep clean.
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Thanks, thats the color I was thinking. I'm pretty sure that car would look good in any color that isnt' bright yellow, orange or purple.
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[
I want them to bring back opening vent windows damn it ! For what we are paying for cars we should be getting something for it besides more air bags. You know what they say about "air bags"  :P


Vent windows? What is the point with today's ventilation systems and aircon?
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Vent windows?    What is the point with today's ventilation systems and aircon?

[post="11073"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


I would have to ask, "What's the point of having a non-functional vent window?" Its styling crap.
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On an Aston Martin, yes.
Otherwise I think it looks good on certain vehicles, including the Mazda 6 and the Ford Escape, which looks better in yellow than any other color.  A Civic rolling dubs doesn't look good in any color, but yellow draws far more attention to the idiocy that goes into these.

[post="10978"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



Understood, and agreed - just giving you a hard time. Should have included a :P.

-RBB
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I would have to ask, "What's the point of having a non-functional vent window?" Its styling crap.

[post="11190"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


And what's interesting is that they took the effort to hide the B-pillar, but not this. Personally, I don't mind.
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I would have to ask, "What's the point of having a non-functional vent window?" Its styling crap.


It's not for styling... the usual use is to allow the main window to fully go down in the door....(the shape of the glass and A-pillar rake wouldn't allow for a full window)..
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Beautiful car, but that yellow is hideous.... it looks much better in gray in the October Automobile magazine.
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It's not for styling... the usual use is to allow the main window to fully go down in the door....(the shape of the glass and A-pillar rake wouldn't allow for a full window)..

[post="11750"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Oh, I realize that and was merely saying that stylistically, it looks pretty crappy on an otherwise smooth car. It stands out even more when they try to obscure the B-pillar.

There are dozens of rakish, sleek cars that are designed without the need for a quarter window. Don't see why Aston Martin with its decades of design prowess can't do the same.

Agreed that the yellow is putrid. Ruins the car.
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