IT’S FAIR to say that the British and the Germans haven’t always been the best of friends. In fact, history is full of instances when the two haven’t exactly got along.
These days relations are much tighter, of course, and every so often the two nations work together to produce something wonderful – something like the new Aston Martin Vantage.
You see, under that beautiful Bond-approved body beats a very German heart: not only is the car’s 4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine from Mercedes-AMG, but also much of the electrical systems and the infotainment.
It might sound like a nightmare scenario, and it’s sure to get old-school Aston aficionados spluttering into their cups of Earl Grey, but the good news is that this blend of German brute force and classic British craftsmanship really works.
What first grabs your attention is the head-turning looks. From the front end — with super-thin LED lights peering out over a huge splitter that looks like it’ll gobble up the road — your gaze passes along the elegantly sculpted air vents on the sides to the rear, where a neat spoiler has been built into the bootlid. Any way you look, this is as much a work of art as it is a piece of engineering.
Inside, too, there are plenty of details sure to put a smile on the face of any owner. The paddle-shifters on the wheel are solid metal and feel properly expensive, the digital dials have beautifully clear graphics, and even something as minor as the sun visor looks like a Burberry vanity case.
“Any way you look, this is as much a work of art as it is a piece of engineering”
That said, it’s not quite full marks: some of the fit and finish isn’t great, there are too many buttons on the centre console and the infotainment system isn’t terribly easy to use. Worst of all, the cabin is positively drowning in a sea of Alcantara.
Get out on the road, though, and you’ll probably be willing to forgive any of those shortcomings. For a start, the Vantage is a genuinely quick car, capable of hitting 60mph from standstill in well under four seconds.
More than that, you soon realise that the chassis engineers have done as good a job as the designers — which is praise indeed. The engine may be from Mercedes but the chassis is pure Aston, and lots of work has gone into making sure the car’s weight is evenly distributed. They gave particular attention to the position of the engine and gearbox, and that work has really paid off.
Poised and precise, with superb steering that gives you immense confidence, the Vantage is an amazing jack of all trades: you can be neat and tidy with it or drive it like an absolute loon, and whatever you want, the Aston obliges.
It’s fantastic fun flying down a twisting country road, but at the same time it’s comfortable enough to cruise along the motorway and easy enough to manoeuvre around town. And, if you have a track to play on, you can hang the tail of the car out like some kind of demon drifter.
It makes you proud to be British — but with a doff of your cap to the Germans.
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Aston Martin Vantage rivals
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MERCEDES AMG GT S ★★★★☆
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