2013 Aston Martin Vantage S | Road Test
|Good||That V8 orchestra, handling, Top drawer looks|
|Bad||Aging transmission, Can be twitchy, Uncomfortable ride|
|Specs||4.7L V8, 430bhp @7300 rpm, 361 lb-ft @ 7300 rpm, 7 speed automated manual, RWD|
|Price||AED 675,000 (As tested) AED 580,000(starting)|
Weapon of track destruction
It seems to be raining Aston’s here at Automiddleeast. After having a go at the new DB9, we were given the keys to the 2013 Aston Martin Vantage S. The Vantage S as you would expect is the slightly more sportier version than the standard Vantage which also happens to be the entry level Aston Martin. Being at the lower order of the Aston food chain, the Vantage comes with a V8. (Although a V12 Vantage is also now being offered)
The 2013 Aston Martin Vantage S comes with a few extras compared to its cousin. For starters, the 4.7L V8 puts out 430 bhp and 361 lb-ft of torque @ 7300 rpm. 10 bhp more than the standard Vantage. The street racer version gets a stiffer suspension, loads of carbon fibre bits including a front spoiler, side view mirrors and dash garnish. But the best upgrade of all, is the exhaust, which sounds ferocious enough to make little children cry. Fire up the engine and it starts up with so much anger as if having just woken up from its hibernation slumber, starving and ready to pounce on its prey.
The 2013 Aston Martin Vantage S comes with a Graziano robotized manual gearbox. Which also happens to be a race spec ‘box. In essence, it is a manual transmission without a clutch that is capable of making gear shifts should you decide to leave it to the car. Make no mistake, this is nothing like an automatic transmission. This is a single clutch heavy duty, race ready transmission that can take an absolute beating. Select drive and the car does not roll forward until you step on the gas and the clutch gradually engages the gear. In auto mode, the car takes care of the upshifts, however a change of gear is accompanied by a complete loss of power and an abrupt shift. There is a ‘Technique’ to change gears on the 2013 Aston Martin Vantage S which the dealer explained to me. You have to treat the transmission like it were a traditional manual ‘box with the only exception being that it has no clutch. So every time you shift to a higher gear, you have to time your gas lift off and hit the paddle shift exactly at the same time to get the perfect shift. And boy, does it sound orgasmic when the beast burps with a crackle followed by a growing roar when you get back on the gas. If you decide to let the car take care of the shifts you have to sense when the gear is about to shift and lift your foot off the throttle. It takes a bit of time getting used to and soon became like a little game I was playing trying to get it perfect every single time.
I know what you’re thinking, this is no cruiser. You can’t relax and drive this car. And you’re right. When you jump into the driver’s seat you better have your game face on. The most fun was while shifting close to redline. The car shifts gears with so much aggression and such a loud thud it feels like someone smacked you right across the back of your head. Pretty hard.
The interior is pretty much a copy paste of the DB9, which means it shares almost all of the same problems with its absolutely gorgeous looking GT sibling. However, the one improvement over the DB9 is that this is strictly a 2 seater car with a nicely finished parcel shelf for rear seats. Adding a little practicality in terms of storage space rather than unusable rear seats in this performance machine is definitely a good move. The test car was fitted with the optional B&O sound system which was so good it could probably replicate a live Pavarotti concert.
The 2013 Aston Martin Vantage S is not a car you buy to make a statement or floss it on the JBR walk. This is a serious track weapon. Driving a car like this on a daily basis requires commitment and a sense of dedication. The incredibly harsh suspension is not for those with a weak spine (no pun intended). The car is loud, like ‘wake up not just your entire neighbourhood but even the one next to it loud’. Your favourite track better be engine drone.
This then, is a proper track ready luxury sports car. That doesn’t sound right and puts it in a confused spot. If you are looking for a dedicated track weapon, why would you need luxuries like a B&O sound system when all you really want to listen to is the beautiful soundtrack of the V8 and the crackling and burping of the exhaust on gear shifts. I don’t want a heated leather clad seat, give me race buckets with a 4 point harness, ditch the electric seats, the navigation and the reverse camera. A race car with all the niceties sort of defeats the purpose. And then there is the price. AED 675,000 for a road legal track day toy? The Porsche 911 Carrera S, Jaguar XKR-S or even the Nissan GTR offer stiff competition in a much more modern package. The British carmaker can woo buyers with its sense of exclusivity and character. But a track junkie will need much more than that and there is no real predicament here. If you’re really after a Vantage, get the standard one(starts at AED 525,000) which is a little more comfortable to live with on a daily basis and save a bunch of money. Unless, you’re that person who is in the market for a proper track weapon that is hand built, exclusive and has heated seats.