The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is the British marque’s answer to Germany’s famed Porsche 911, deviating from Aston’s traditional grand tourer products to create a more compact sports car. Aimed at drivers seeking sharper handling feedback and a lighter, stronger chassis, it was originally equipped with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or 6-speed semi-automatic gearbox, and came powered by a 4.3L naturally aspirated V8 putting out 380bhp.
This put the V8 Vantage in direct competition with Porsche’s 997 Carrera S, its 3.8L six-cylinder engine producing 355bhp albeit in a package some 220 kg lighter. As a result, the original V8 Vantage went from 0-62 in 4.9 seconds, vs the Porsche’s 4.6-second sprint. Aston Martin went on to release the V8 Vantage Power Upgrade package which brought an increase of 20bhp in peak power, making up the margin. Aston Martin’s Vantage Convertible, known as the V8 Vantage Roadster, went on to surprise and delight critics with its impressive chassis strength delivering an almost imperceptible shortfall in performance.
Later cars from mid-2008 onwards have a larger engine displacement of 4.7L as well as carrying a software update to semi-automatic cars for sharper gearbox responses. In 2012, along with facelifts to the model, a new 7-speed semi-automatic transmission arrived in the Aston Martin V8 Vantage S which carried a 24kg weight saving vs the previous semi-auto box. Its engine had been modified to deliver 430bhp and the model achieved the 0-62 run in 4.1 seconds – still a snip slower than Porsche’s competition, the 991 Carrera S.
Aston Martin launched the all-new 2018 Vantage based on the DB11’s platform – albeit with 70% new components – with Mercedes-AMG’s 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 powerplant and an 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox (though the upcoming manual Vantage will be the only vehicle that pairs a manual gearbox to this engine once launched). The 2018 Vantage 0-62 time has dropped to 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 195mph.
Limited production variants of the V8 Vantage include the N400 Coupe and Roaster, tuned to produce 400bhp (hence the name), and later the N420 Coupe and Roadster which were born as similar concepts but based on the later 4.7L cars, which came with Sports Pack suspension as standard and Aston Martin Race Collection paint options, differentiating the model from the standard Vantage. The Vantage N430 was the facelifted Vantage S’ answer to these popular limited-run cars, including the optional new 7-speed semi-automatic transmission. Finally, Aston Martin’s Vantage GT8, of which only 150 were made, produced 440bhp from the uplifted 4.7L base Vantage engine, and weighted 100kg less than the Vantage S.
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage price is at a more accessible level in the market than an equivalent Porsche, and its popularity means there are plenty of well looked after, low-mileage examples on offer at competitive prices.