There are certain car companies that absolutely understand what it means to be a driver. Aston Martin is one of them. When Aston decided that it needed to branch out into SUVs for customers who live where the roads are not paved, it reintroduced the Lagonda brand rather than pollute the Aston name.
Aston Martin only builds sports cars, and it builds them by hand.
The V8 Vantage Roadster that arrived on our doorstep came with a $154,035 price tag (base for a is $134K). For that price we instantly become a member of an exclusive club that mixes rich racing history with modern graceful styling.
Like any good group of enthusiasts, we all had trouble containing our excitement for this car. But one we got the fleet rotation down, it was time to figure out how the smallest Aston stacked up against the competition.
Photography by Thomas Carter
The design has classic understated British looks. The low, long hood and short rear deck are in the exact proportions that define the classic sports car form. As a whole, the Vantage Roadster has a refined appearance with no sharp edges and only sweeping curves. Aston Martins are compared to Lamborghinis and Ferrari’s in their exclusivity, but just like the rest of Aston’s lineup, the Vantage Roadster is not as outrageous in design as the competition. Instead God is in the details.
The wheel arches have an aggressive bulge to accommodate the wide tires (10 in. front and 11.6 in. rear). The LED eyebrow lights almost mimic the curve of the car body. The flush-mount door handles yield doors open with a slight upwards to ease entry and exit (and just look really cool too.)
As much as price can be justified by exclusivity and engine size, customers at this level demand that everything seen, smelled or touched be of the highest quality. Aston Martin understands this well and has been catering to the elite crowd for over 80 years. Our tester was covered in leather with a vibrant color called Aurora Blue. Between the hand stitching and soft touch, it almost seemed as if it came directly from blue cows.
While the Roadster barely clears four feet in height, the accommodations are very roomy. With the top up the only person who seemed to have any trouble with the headroom was a person bordering on seven feet tall, everyone else should have not problem whatsoever.
Like any good sports car all instruments were well within reach. The satellite navigation system runs through a display that is at the top of the dash where the driver does not have to take his/her eyes off the road. As an added bonus, it folds flat into the dash panel when not in use. While this is impressive to passengers, it also is truly functional.
The details come into play again here with elements such as the key. The key and the fob is one single piece. This function is hidden behind the steering wheel on most cars, but this one is so elegantly designed that it is used as a centerpiece on the console. While this is not necessarily a main feature, it just goes to the feeling of how special the car is.
The engine is a symphony. It’s a 420 hp 4.7-liter V8 unit that roars to life and then quiets down for idle. It’s almost as if the car was saying “Let’s go for a day on the backroads, but if you must go to work, that’s okay too.”
The powerplant is located in the front of the car behind the front axel. The front-mid mounting not only allows for more weight to be pushed to the center of the car, but this position also allows the engine to be mounted lower in the frame. To balance out the engine, the transmission is mounted behind the driver and also low in the car.
The resulting drive is amazing. The low center of gravity really presents itself in the corners. When taking the V8 Vantage Roadster around some of the 180 degree banked turns on our test circuit, the car gripped hard enough to let us continue to power through at speeds that have made other sports cars break loose.
In the city we were able to behave ourselves in the Vantage. The six-speed “Sportshift” automated manual transmission in our tester didn’t provide the jerky feeling that can sometime come with electronic clutches at low speeds. The steering that works like telepathy at high speeds also transmits well in the parking lots.
The overall impression just shows that Aston invests its money in development. We expected a car that would be fun on the weekends. What we got was one that could be driven every day.
Beautiful inside, beautiful outside and beautiful drive.
The $154K for our V8 Vantage Roadster actually represents a good value. At this price point we get one car that’s good for all driving needs, and is made in such limited quantities that we know we will always be special.
Although the V8 Vantage is at the base of the Aston Martin lineup, there is nothing base about it. The car makes us want to be better drivers. This is not only because we can see the quality that is involved in assembling one, but also because of the level of refinement in the driving experience. This was a sports car that showed us no limits.