2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Review
When a car company slashes the price of its highest selling model by over $5,000 and at the same time introduces a comprehensive update, the first in four years back, there is surely something to it.
Taking up this issue with Aston Martin, we asked them the reason behind the price cut of the 2012 V8 Vantage. It was simply done to make the vehicle more competitive, they replied.
In reality, the reason behind the move was to make it an even playing field against the Porsche 911 Carrera S, which, in its newest avatar, is the best 911 ever and its price starts from $97,360. In comparison the V8 Vantage’s base price is $118,370.
However, its not odd Aston will benchmark its best seller against the awesome new 911. But does Aston need to play catch up with the Porsche? The V8 Vantage is a different car in its own right and also special, more spacial than the 911.
2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage has one of the most mesmerizing shapes and it personifies the blend of aggression and elegance, compared to which the 911 seems dull and boring.
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For 2012, the car has better aesthetics with a new splitter at the front and a rear diffuser, both of which have taken from the Vantage S and completed in matte black color, though they can also be had in optional carbon fibre. The skirts on the side are more sculpted, making them look more aggressive but at the same time not spoiling the design lines.
On the inside too, the changes are as subtle as they are on the exterior. There is red contrast stitching on the leather seats, which matches the new red paint scheme of the exterior.
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The seamless integration of good-to-hold aluminum switches and leather still holds your attention, even after so many years, though the controls for the climate and stereo controls have started showing their age.
However, the base model has lots of goodies like satellite-navigation system, parking sensors, satellite radios, Bluetooth and cruise control, all of which do justice to the asking price of the car.
Carried forward from the 2008 update is the same 4700cc V8, producing 426hp. The standard transmission is the 6-speed manual while the 6-speed Sportshift automatic manual has been replaced by the 7-speed Sportshift of the Vantage S.
The extra cog is welcome and so is the shorter gear ratios and refined and faster shifts. There is no doubt the automatic is an improvement over the previous one and will certainly constituent a major portion of sales, but the slicker manual box makes the car more involving to drive. This also means we would be driving the cheapest model in Aston’s sports car line-up.
The 4700cc V8 might be getting old but it still is a powerful and flexible motor — it can crawl with slow moving city traffic with breaking into sweat and spin to the redline without batting an eyelid. The V8 Vantage goes from 0-62mpg in just 4.7 seconds, which places it in the same league as the base 911 but not the S. However, on normal roads the engine pulls as easily as any comparable motor out there.
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What waters down the experience somewhat is the sound made by it, which compared to the glorious exhaust note belted out by flat-6 engine of the 911 is a let down as it is hindered by tire drone and also the transmission whine. However, it sounds as good as ever if you are standing by the road side. So, to rectify this malady maybe we should go in for the Roadster.
Other additions on the car are: 15” brake rotors, wide tires (by 0.4”) and decrease in the steering ratio from 17:1 to 15:1. And that is very evident when you go into corners faster than anytime before.
This change makes the car less tiring to drive at higher speeds. The feel imparted by the new steering setup is better than that of the 911′s electromechanical set up, but at slow speeds, turning the car is heavy and cumbersome.
Ride & Handling
Now it is more fun to motor the Vantage because of the added grip provided by the larger tires and more stopping power provided by the brakes.
However, there has to be logic behind providing a purely street oriented car with wide tires, unless of course you are going to take it to the race track regularly, which is not likely to happen.
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All you can do is to drive it faster than you can, smug in the knowledge the fat tires will bail you out if the need arises but it can prove otherwise and you may land up off the road. Skinny tires don’t mean that you can’t have the fun, prime example being the 200hp Scion FR-S, which has tires just as wide as the hybrid Toyota Prius.
The suspension has been softened up and that’s a move in the right direction by Aston. No doubt, there will be a small amount of loss in the cornering agility, but if you aren’t Lewis Hamilton you will hardly notice it, however, what you will certainly do is the improvement in ride over less than ideal surfaces.
Sum Up & Price
The 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is a better car than before and honestly there was no need to reduce its price to try and bring it closer to the the 911.
The V8 Vantage should have held its head high and did its own thing because the customers it is seeking are different — its a sports car meant for the gentlemen who want a something with a character of its own. The base price of the 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is $118,370.