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Old 26th November 2009, 10:14   #1
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Thumbs up Drive & Review: Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster

When the word supercar comes to our mind, we usually deviate towards Lamborghinis and Ferraris. Cars from these two manufacturers have earned their places on our bedroom walls for ages. When you look at these cars, they shout out one very common word, “Extreme”. Razor sharp design, hundreds of gills and bulges, tyre smoke, tall spoilers all sum up their existence. Men go crazy when their engines roar and women go crazy for the one who is doing all that sitting inside the supercar. However, there are a few manufacturers that build mad supercars and cover them with a blanket of decency. One such manufacturer is Aston Martin. Founded in 1913, Aston Martin has made some great cars over the years, the DB5, old V8 Vantage, DB7, Vanquish, DB9 being some of them. Their direct entry to compete against the Porsche 911 began in 2003 with the AMV8 Vantage concept. The production ready models hit the showrooms in 2006 in the coupe form and were soon followed by the V8 Vantage Roadster.

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Even though the basic recipe of their shape hasn’t changed much from the DB7, most Aston Martins are jaw-droppingly gorgeous cars to look at. Front engine, rear wheel drive, rear transaxle, comfortable and beautifully finished cabin completes their generation-old structural template of a sportscar. Like any other Aston, the Vantage is full of elegant curves and lines that match their respective places. Nothing here looks out of place. The body of the Vantage is hand-built in Gaydon, UK and is made up of bonded aluminium with different alloys and composites. The V8 Vantage Roadster barely weighs 90 kilograms more than the coupe. Aston Martin promised nearly identical performance figures from the Coupe and the Roadster, even though the latter being heavier.

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Gorgeous LED taillights

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Door handles are located inside the body.

The cabin is very comfortable for a car of this size. The seats have numerous settings to move around and shape themselves, so does the steering wheel. The center console is a busy one with lot of switches and knobs. The complete leather upholstery is hand-stitched. A Satellite Navigation system from Volvo rests itself inside the central part of the dashboard. It takes it own little time to come out and start. The quality of materials is topnotch. Everything is just perfect in there.

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The busy center console with array of switches & knobs

Insert a rectangular cylindrical key in the hole and press the crystal finish Engine Start button. What happens next is perfect example of a noisy baby taking birth. The 4.7 litre V8 comes to life. Originally a Jaguar 4.3L V8, it was modified to accommodate more displacement which resulted in a better output. These engines are hand-assembled in Cologne, Germany. Even though the basic engine block is the Jaguar one, all internals are uniquely fabricated for Aston Martins. The only thing that can justify the engines capability is the exhaust. Even at idle the engine makes enough noise to grab attention. Put you foot down and you get to experience space-craft acceleration which will throw you back in your seat. The engine produces 420 bhp and 470 Nm of torque which gets transferred to the rear wheels using a Sportshift automated manual transmission. All these numbers make the V8 Vantage crack a top speed of 280 km/hr and a staggering acceleration of 0-100 km/hr in 5 seconds.

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Dry Sump Lubricated 4.7L V8

The Vantage has rear transaxle and this helps in keeping a near 50:50 weight distribution of the car. In the D-Mode, the gearbox works just like any other automatic. Pressing the Comfort button increases the time interval between each gear-change and it takes place as smoothly as possible. In Sport mode, paddles on either sides behind the steering wheel control the transmission. I must say that unlike the PDK gearbox in the Porsche 911 which I drove earlier this year, the Sportshift has noticeable jerks while changing gears. The Comfort setting reduces these jerks, but increases gear change intervals, thereby increasing power drop during gear change. The only way of to prohibit this from happening is to keep the engine at high revs during gear changes. Apart from this, the Sportshift gear box is quick and very easy to use, left paddle to downshift and the right one to upshift. Another interesting thing about this gearbox is that it limits the speed of the car if you take your foot off the brakes from standstill. Stop and go traffic usually does not move at speeds higher than 10 mph and this car will not exceed 6 mph on its own. A nice touch.

Suspension & Wheels
Usually cars in this category have suspension settings whereas the V8 Vantage does not. The suspension can be summed up with two words, stiff and comfortable. Usually, both these factors run against each other and having one spoils the fun of another. The Vantage comes with a Double Aluminium Wishbones fixed over monotube dampers which provide a very comfortable ride at city traffic speeds and excellent stiffness for high speed corners. This accounts for very little or no body-roll. The car comes shod with 235/40 ZR19s in the front and 275/35 ZR19s at the back. These tyres should be applauded for the endless grip they provide. I was driven at some thrilling speeds on a mountain road before my drive and the tyres kept themselves glued to the ground at all times. One can feel the grip as the body tries to leap sideways when the car is turned ferociously but the tyres hold it on to the ground. It is a great feeling.

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Bridgestone Potenza 275/35 ZR19 at the rear

Can you live with it?!
The category in which the V8 Vantage falls is ruled by the Porsche 911 and to some extent the BMW 6-Series / M6. These cars are designed to be daily drivers and the Vantage is no exception. Put the car in D-Mode with Comfort On and there you go. Never in my drive did I feel that the Vantage is difficult to drive. It is easy to drive and park just like any other hatchback. Boot space if not great, is plenty for two medium sized suitcases. It is not compromised at all even if the roof is folded away as it sits above the boot. The electronic folding roof opens in approximately 19 seconds and can be done whilst on the move (at speeds less than 30mph). Fuel efficiency figures are nothing to drive home about. On an average one should get 7-8 kmpl. The V8 Vantage is nearly suitable for every occasion.

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The roof opens in 19 seconds & can be done on the move.

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Here she is with her roof on.

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144 litres of bootspace, with or without the roof down.

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The Drive!!!
Before I got the V8 Vantage in my hands, I was driven around by the Aston Martin & Bugatti - Sales Manager of Silicon Valley Auto Group, Matthew Griffin. The title of Sales Manager will not affect your jaw but what will make it drop is the fact that Matthew has driven on different race tracks across Europe including Ascari, Spain. The machinery that he has driven includes, the Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari Enzo, McLaren F1, Aston Martin DBS, Ferrari F40, F50 and many more. He has had a racing license as well. For such a guy to show you how an Aston Marin handles is a unique experience. We went to a road that goes around the nearby mountain range in Los Gatos, CA. As soon as we entered the mountain range, Matthew opened the taps on the Vantage. The sound coming out of those exhausts was possibly the best mechanical music ever produced on planet earth. The exhaust valves started dancing as soon as the revs reached 4000rpm. Believe me, this British V8 can make many American 8-cylinder engines shy down just by its vocal finesse. Matthew took the car around corners with such perfection and confidence that it was like watching BBC Top Gear live, in front of your eyes. The only difference is that Matthew was like Tiff Needell and not Jeremy Clarkson The Vantage responded very well to everything Matthew had to throw at her. The cars handling deserves to be praised with every adjective present in the dictionary. The V8 Vantage builds immense confidence in the driver making him understand her capabilities. This makes it easier to take the car to its limits knowing the consequences. Powerful engine, excellent weight distribution, superb transmission make the V8 Vantage a nearly perfect car for its class. Oh yes, lets not forget about the exclusivity shall we? I have seen less Aston Martins, here in America, than Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bentleys, and Porsches. Of course, all this comes at a price. The V8 Vantage starts approximately at $135,000 and let’s be honest, the 911 beats it in price. But for sheer exclusivity and that heck of an engine note, I would choose the V8 Vantage any day. Just like me, all this wont matter to you until you actually experience this car in real life. It is the epitome of British engineering perfection. Period!

I have no more words to describe how good this car is or should I say that I am of no credibility to describe this car any more. This drive was a life changing experience. Today, my list of favorite supercars sports a new name in it, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

My heartiest thanks to

- Matthew Griffin of Silicon Valley Auto Group
- Graham J. Pike of Silicon Valley Auto Group
- Silicon Valley Auto Group, Los Gatos, CA

A few more pictures:

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Old 26th November 2009, 10:20   #2
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Lovely pics and a beautiful report!

You have basically ruined my day. You got driven at a high speed by a skilled driver in an Aston Martin! And then you got to drive it yourself!

Thank you for ruining my day in a very beautiful way.
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Old 26th November 2009, 10:22   #3
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Fantastic Nishant. Superb tight coverage with great pics to support. Drool stuff.
That roof thing design is originally from Mercedes? Or I'm wrong here?
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Old 26th November 2009, 10:29   #4
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Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
That roof thing design is originally from Mercedes? Or I'm wrong here?
I am not sure but the Mercedes-Benz SLK did come with the first successfully working hard-top folding mechanism.
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Old 26th November 2009, 10:36   #5
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I wish they had installed a hardtop. The V8 Vantage coupe looks much better than the soft top. This is true for all coupesturned convertibles IMHO.

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Old 26th November 2009, 12:02   #6
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Thats an awesome experience & a great report Nishant.

Oh boy I envy you so much right now
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Old 26th November 2009, 12:13   #7
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Now thats an experience to have. Fantastic report Nishant. You must have had a blast putting the Aston through its paces on those awesome roads. You photography as usual is top notch. Lucky boy

P.S Is the Roadster called the Volante?
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Old 26th November 2009, 12:21   #8
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A lucky chap to get a chance to be driven in a AM vantage and very nice review there. The AM vantage coupe has almost always been on top of my wish list. The looks of the coupe are to die for, somehow the roadster look doesnt feel that appealing to me, or maybe the color of the car in this particular case is the reason. but whatever it is, this is one of the most beautiful cars ever. Had seen the vantage coupe in deep maroon at a showstand in heathrow airport and a whole hour I kept circling the car and believe me i wasnt the only one doing that.
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Old 26th November 2009, 12:24   #9
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That was some fantastic report. How many of us get to celebrate our birthday like this?
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Old 26th November 2009, 12:41   #10
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Brilliant coverage and lucky lucky you! Superb drool maal for me!
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Old 26th November 2009, 12:43   #11
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you must have done a lot of good in the past.
its a beast in an angels disguise.
BTW do write about how you felt when you took her for a spin. the adrenalin rush, the top speed you did etc.
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Old 26th November 2009, 13:18   #12
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Nicely written and amazing photographs. The car looks beautiful.
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Old 26th November 2009, 13:23   #13
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Awesome report on a equally amazing car. I have always been a fan of Aston Martin.
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Old 26th November 2009, 14:00   #14
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that's the stuff of dreams.

i only does not like one thing about it, the black cloth tent house on top of it.

does it also come with a proper metal folding roof?
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Old 26th November 2009, 14:24   #15
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Once in a lifetime experience documented perfectly. Awesome pictures to top that. In my book, Aston Martins are second to none.
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