Reviews First Drive: 2019 Aston Martin Vantage

17:46  12 april  2018
17:46  12 april  2018 Source:   driving.ca

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The 2019 Aston Martin Vantage is the exciting luxury sports car that cures us of our Porsche fatigue. The electronic rear differential on the Vantage is an Aston first , and it’s linked to the car’s electronic stability control system.

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a car parked in a parking lot© Provided by Driving.ca

LISBON – Damn the rain. First it turned BMW’s Enduro Park in Malaga, Spain into a mud bowl — rendering Yours Truly’s job of pretending to know how to ride a motorcycle off-road more than a little difficult. Then, the deluge spread to Lisbon where it turned Portugal’s famous Portimao racetrack into a greasy piece of paved slime.

Make that a high-speed, more than a little scary greasy piece of paved slime. Greasy as in anything above 4,000 rpm had the new Aston Martin Vantage’s normally super-grippy Pirelli PZero tires squirming more than Harvey Weinstein deposing for a Rose McGowan civil suit. Still, between lurid slides and babying the super-torquey twin-turbo V8, we learned a few things about Aston Martin’s new budget-basement — for Aston Martin, that is — super sports car.

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LISBON – Damn the rain. First it turned BMW ’s Enduro Park in Malaga, Spain into a mud bowl — rendering Yours Truly’s job of pretending to know how to ride a motorcycle off-road more than a little difficult.

a car parked on the side of a building© Provided by Driving.ca

If you’re looking for perspective, Craig Jamieson says that the new Vantage’s closest competitor is Porsche’s 911 GTS. He should know who is the competition; he’s Aston Martin’s senior engineer for vehicle dynamics. More to the point, he swears up and down that, in deluges like we’re suffering, his Aston will leave said Porsche in its dust … er, wake. Credit, says Jamieson, goes to Aston Martin’s first-ever electronically controlled limited-slip differential which, Aston claims, can basically tie the two rear wheels together with about 1,844 pound-feet of clamping torque in but a few seconds.

What that means — to anyone not a senior vehicle dynamics engineer — is that the Vantage’s rear axle can go from fully-locked, maximum acceleration in a straight line to free-wheeling, turning into that hairpin right now in the blink of an eye. And indeed, despite the lack of traction, the Vantage does turn into Portimao’s many decreasing radius hairpins with something approaching agility. Besides, I‘m busy trying to not be the fool where angels fear to spin out, so I’ll take his word for it.

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With 503 horsepower and a characterful driving experience, the 2019 Aston Martin Vantage is very appealing. This is the second application by Aston Martin of the German mill, the first being the delightful DB11 V8, the Vantage ’s larger cousin.

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Yes, it’s a Mercedes-Benz engine. Get over it. Aston just couldn’t afford to develop another engine from scratch — especially since it’s now developing an electric powertrain for its Lagonda sub-brand — so it turned to Mercedes’ AMG division for its full-zoot, 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8.

But as Aston continuously points out, the block may be German but the induction and exhaust systems are pure Old Blighty. That means 503 horsepower and 505 lb.-ft. of torque – 18 more than the DB11’s version of the same powerplant. What’s more important is that the big V8, seen in everything Mercedes from the CLS to the GT S, sounds completely un-Germanic. Where AMG’s version sounds like a Detroit big block gone to finishing school, the Aston version sings a sharper, more European tune. Imagine Corvette by Ferrari, if you will, and you’re getting some idea of the tune the Vantage.

Yes, Jamieson really did apologize because his Vantage only goes 312 km/h. This has nothing to do with insufficient steam, of which, as noted above, the Vantage has plenty. No, says Jamieson, because they wanted a perkier Aston, they’ve shortened the rear gear — DBs get a 2.7:1 rear axle; the Vantage a 2.93:1 ratio. So, while it runs out of revs earlier, throttle response – crucial to the Vantage’s sporty intent, says Jamieson – is noticeably perkier.

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For instance, zero to 60 mph (96 km/h) takes but 3.6 seconds, not bad for a car with only two driven wheels and no launch control system. So don’t sweat it, all you prospective Aston Martin owners out there; other than bench racing, the Vantage’s reduced top speed is actually a sign of better performance. It certainly didn’t feel slow from behind the wheel.

Said engine is pushed way back in the frame. Lift the hood and it looks like those big twin turbos — nestled in the ‘vee’ of the cylinders where one normally expects to find carburetors (OK, EFI intake manifolds) — are right under the windshield wipers. If the Ferrari 488 is a rear mid-engine car, then the Vantage is front mid-engine car, the entirety of the engine – including the accessory drive – located behind the front axle. It helps give the Vantage, says Jamieson, an almost perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution.

Jamieson’s a bit of a stickler on this whole weight distribution thing, claiming that the reason that Aston went with a ZF-eight-speed automatic transaxle, rather than a dual-clutch version, is that the former is placed ahead of the rear axle, again helping that 50/50 weight distribution. It must work because, for all that slippy-sliding stuff I was talking about, the Vantage pushed the front end as much as the over-steered the rear.

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The Vantage, in case you can’t tell from pictures, is noticeably smaller than a DB11. It’s about 100 millimetres shorter in wheelbase, and at 4,465 millimetres, it’s a whopping 284 shorter than the DB11. It’s actually shorter — by 34 millimetres overall — than the 911 GTS Jamieson mentioned earlier.

Still, it’s not cramped inside. Indeed, the big difference between DB11 and Vantage, says Marek Reichman, is that the interior is swaddled in Alcantara rather than traditional leather. This, implies Aston Martin’s chief of design, is to spur you onto to even speedier silliness. I don’t know about that, but it is attractive and soft to the touch. That said, the interior is Aston’s best effort yet with logically arranged switchgear, plenty of legroom and a navigation system only slightly out of date (previous Aston systems seemed to be designed by the same engineers as BMW’s original iDrive).

That shorter wheelbase — and a revised panel stamping/bonding system — gives the Vantage chassis an incredibly stiff 35 kilo-newton per degreetorsional stiffness. That compares with the DB 11’s 32 kn/degree and the previous Vantage’s 28. For those of you wondering what a kilo-newton is and what the H-E-double-hockey-sticks trigonometry has to do with chassis design, that’s the amount of force it takes to twist the Vantage’s body-in-white one degree. The bigger the number, the more rigid is its superstructure.

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Before I can tell you just how close driving the 2019 Vantage comes to the promise of its design, you need to understand how great a departure this car Aston Martin ’s custom software for the gearbox, combined with the electronic rear differential with torque vectoring – a first for the company – are

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And even if that still doesn’t mean anything to you, understand this: A stiffer chassis lets the Vantage’s suspension — double wishbones in front and a multi-link independent system in the rear — work better and also generates more feedback to the driver through the steering wheel. Indeed, the best thing about the Vantage’s performance — meaty acceleration from the stout Mercedes-AMG big-block notwithstanding — is an almost uncanny combination of road-holding and creature comfort, all married to an almost delicate feedback through the steering wheel. This is Aston Martin’s best chassis yet.

The Vantage is a sharp tool. Indeed, all this talk of sloppy weather and slippy-slidey tarmac can’t detract from the fact that this is the sweetest steering Vantage yet. Even lubricated with rain, the front P255/40ZR20 Pirelli PZero tires stuck tenaciously, body roll was non-existent and, when the damned traction control wasn’t killing the party, acceleration was plenty potent. Denigrate the use of a Merc engine all you will or snigger at Jamieson’s contention that an automatic is superior to a DCT, but the new Vantage can see your 911 GTS and raise it a few hundred pound-feet of torque and a few lateral Gs on the skid pad. That it costs $172,495, not very far off what Mercedes charges for an AMG GT, yet retain the exclusivity of anything built in Gaydon, speaks well of Aston Martin’s future.

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