Until I drove the V8 Vantage, I never really bought the Aston Martin hype. Sure, the brand has a long and storied history and today produces some of the most dynamic designs on the road. But it is part of struggling Ford Motor, and I had my doubts about the overall package-especially the details therein. Would corners be cut? Would performance really be all that spectacular?
It's not an easy car to drive smoothly, but this is something that actually adds to its character. Despite the surprisingly long gear throws, there is something distinctly satisfying in ramming the lever home then jumping back hard on the throttle. And the noises this 4.3-liter V8 makes are downright scarifying. There aren't many cars that sound this raw, yet so dang right.
Considering it's assembled by hand, I thought the fit and finish were particularly striking. And using the word "striking" to describe the car's styling really only gets half of the job done. I think it's safe to say Aston produces some of the most incredibly aggressive yet visually appealing automobiles on the planet, characteristics stretched across the company's three-model product line.
The real downside is its price. At around $107,000 base, even this baby Aston is unabashedly expensive. You'll get about the same performance as a Porsche 911 for a fairly significant premium. Still, there's the whole matter of exclusivity, something these traditional British brands have been able to carry into the modern era over a lot of their German competition. And, of course, there's the whole "handbuilt in England" thing, if that's the kind of stuff that makes you giddy. -Karl Funke
From The Hip
Ferocious exhaust note, styling both beautiful and bellicoselots of $$$ forthis level ofperformance
2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
LayoutLongitudinal front engine,rear-wheel drive
4.3-liter V8, dohc,four valves per cylinder
Peak Power: 380 bhp @ 7300 rpmPeak Torque: 302 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm0-60 mph: 4.9 sec.Top Speed: 175 mphFuel Economy: 13 city/19 hwy
Price as Tested: $119,340