Even Aston Martin needs an entry-level offering, and the 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is it. Available in both coupe and drop-top form, the V8 Vantage gives sports car lovers a taste of what Aston is all about. And what it's all about is a heady combination of sports and luxury that attempts to draw buyers away from such 'pedestrian' brands as Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.
In fact, the V8 Vantage is essentially Aston's prime competitor to the venerable Porsche 911. And it makes a pretty good comparison, actually, despite its slightly elevated price tag from its German rival. For the higher price of entry, Vantage buyers get a bespoke-feeling car that features a front-mounted 420 horsepower 4.7-liter V-8 engine mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed manually operated automatic transmission.
With 0 to 60 mph acceleration in the 5-second range, even the entry-level Aston is no slouch and a 2009 suspension recalibration firmed-up the ride, responding to complaints that the car was a bit too soft on the road. With beautiful styling, powerful engines and an interior that combines sporty and luxurious elements, the 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is an attractive "entry-level" car worth consideration for shoppers in the segment.
Body styles: Coupe, convertible
Engine: 4.7-liter V-8
Transmissions: six-speed manual, six-speed automatic
Models: Coupe, Roadster, S, Special Edition
The V8 Vantage S model was new for 2011, adding power, and pairing with a new seven-speed auto-clutch manual. Four special editions were released last year for the Vantage, the brand's least expensive exotic offering. A Garmin satellite navigation system, beam blade windshield wipers, and three new brake caliper colors are newly optional.
Aston's current design language, as seen on the 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, is sleek and elegant, with wraparound LED taillights, taut body lines, and a subtle aggression that is undeniably British. A trapezoidal grille, flared front fenders, and twin exhaust pipes all add a sporty touch. While the 19-inch wheels are standard, a chrome grille and painted brake calipers are optional.
Most interior surfaces in the 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage are lavishly wrapped in real leather and aluminum, in keeping with Aston's luxury-oriented nature. Still, there's a little more plastic evident in the cabin than we'd like to see. The 10-way power seats are comfortable. Options like dual-stage heated seats and Bluetooth are optional--even though this is Aston Martin's entry-level sports car, we'd expect options like that to be standard with an asking price like the V8 Vantage's.
Performance & Handling
The 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is a wonderful entry-level Aston with enough power to keep things entertaining and handling sharp enough for virtually any road work. The exhaust note is sonorous and unexpectedly raw for a car with such elegant lines. As standard, the Vantage is a sports car that can be driven every day without compromise. Want to head to the track? There's a Sport Pack for that.
The 2012 V-8 Vantage includes antilock brakes with brake assist, dual-stage driver airbags, as well as side airbags when fitted with sport seats, all standard. Stability and traction control are also both standard. Rollover bars are included on Roadster models.
EPA Fuel Economy
Vantage 4.7-liter V-8: 13-14 mpg city/19-21 mpg highway
- The perfect ratio of luxury and sport
- Everyday usability
- Slick-shifting manual gearbox
You Won't Like
- Interior not as rich as other Astons
- Automatic transmission fussy and slow
- Audio controls aren't intuitive
Best-bang-for-buck Bond car.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Audi R8
- Jaguar XKR
- Mercedes-Benz SL550
- Porsche 911