Tag: Aston Martin

New Aston Martin Vantage driven.

Aston Martin Vantage

New Aston Martin Vantage driven.

I must mention that one of my most memorable automotive experiences, involved an Aston Martin. The particular model was the Vantage N430, a car that I had the chance to drive – as a friend had close ties with the local importer in South Africa. Some context is required for me to justify why this vehicle is arguably one of my personal top 5 favourite cars. Firstly, it’s not an easy vehicle to drive. Especially if it’s fitted with the automatic gearbox, which it was. Knowing how to extract a linear experience out of those old school sequential/manual systems is something no millennial would’ve had to do with modern cars. Dual clutch systems have been around since most of us have been driving, so the “lift-off – shift up – get back on” routine is unfamiliar to many of us.

Aston Martin Vantage

This more tedious style of driving a sporty automatic vehicle was the only way of ensuring that the vehicle doesn’t choke on upshift. The N430, equipped with that gearbox felt imperfect, but in a good way. Would I live with the gearbox? No. Parking is a pain and creeping in traffic even more so. Driving in a spirited manner however and getting the shifts right, created a somewhat new sensation, especially with the astonishingly good V8 screaming to the redline. Which brings me to my second point, the engine. What a pleasure. No boost, no whoosh, no lag – just full on unadulterated and normally aspirated lunacy. Cars like the N430 prove that fast doesn’t always mean fun as the N430 can be called quick in today’s standards. A BMW M140i would probably beat it to 100km/h and even further. The guy in the Aston however, will forever be in a state of ecstasy as each revolution brings about a different type of aural pleasure. Lastly, what brings it all together is the chassis. Being a small car, the original Vantage offered nimbleness and rigidity as one of its main attributes. As a result, you have a positive front end and an antsy rear end, creating a giddy feeling, like an excited Jack Russell, eager to play. Taking all those three elements and putting them together, made for a visceral yet human experience for me – forever etching an impression on my mind.

Where to from here?  

It turns out that after speaking to older colleagues, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way about the previous Aston Martin Vantage. Many shared fond memories of the car, compliments and complaints but overall many positive sentiments – putting me at ease as a petrol-head’s mind can easily get infatuated. This experience helped me when the time came for me to drive the new Aston Martin Vantage, a car which has been revealed for some time now in luminous green paint. The sheer aesthetic appeal of this vehicle is enough to get you excited. The car we drove donned the same paintwork as the photos, but in person looked even better. As important as the outside bits are, the most important thing is what makes it tick on the inside? Interestingly, I drove myself to the meeting venue in a Mercedes AMG GTC, a car which the Aston Martin shares the same engine with. That being the case, it was a personal interest of mine to see how similar the engines felt. Before we get into that, let’s talk briefly about the actual inside of the car. Being a car from the early 2000’s, the original Vantage had a quality cabin, but age had caught up with it. Sitting in some of the final iterations of the car emphasized the need for change, as the competition was much further in terms of technologies offered. The new vehicle fixes that. The DB11’s DNA can be seen, with a central infotainment system giving you data, media and other information that can be useful to the driver and passenger. One of the most impressive aspects of the interior cabin was the overall quality of everything. The stitching and materials used, felt in line with the perceived driver of an Aston Martin – someone who doesn’t compromise on style and quality.

Aston Martin Vantage

Lift off:

Firing up the new Vantage is a cause for a smile. Engaging the sport exhausts, is a cause for a grin. Pressing the drive button and setting off was easier than expected, thanks to an eight-speed automatic gearbox – one that is more traffic friendly. In its most normal mode, the Vantage is comfortable. Being a petite vehicle, it doesn’t feel cumbersome in an “everyday” setting. Visibility is adequate, gear shifts are soft and damping is almost GT like. Spending time in the normal setting is not what you do when time is a factor in a car such as this. So off I went into Sport mode and proceeded to wake up the dead as the V8 noise increased dramatically. Sport, Sport + and Track mode of course liven things up by increasing throttle response, firming dampers and adding excitement. Toggling between these three modes allowed me to get to know the car slightly better. The engine is a peach. It screams, it barks on down shifts and the fact that it’s turbocharged means that it’s fast. 0 – 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds fast.

Aston Martin Vantage

Coming back to the Mercedes AMG power-plant, I’m happy to tell you that this car doesn’t feel like an Aston Martin with a Merc engine. The engineers at Aston Martin have tweaked a few things, including the way the engine sounds, so it’s very much “Aston-Martinized”. Having a great engine is one thing, but the chassis is the key and this is where the Vantage shines – as it’s 30% more rigid compared to the old car. What that means is that you’ve got a nimble ride and an eager front end. Even with systems on, one can feel that in the right setting – a skilled driver could easily manage some rear end slides. On the normal road however, the Vantage is a thrill to drive. Is it a worthy successor to the old car? Definitely. The segment it competes in however is very competitive, as Porsche is the staple when it comes to being an everyday sports car. What the Vantage offers however is slightly more exclusivity, but at a price – especially in South Africa. Pricing for this vehicle will be tricky, as the exchange rate varies frequently. At the time of this test drive, the new Vantage would cost a South African similar pricing to that of a GT variant of the 911. By the time the vehicles enter our market, it will be interesting to see where it’s positioned. Being that as it may, the heart wants what it wants. The Aston Martin Vantage does indeed offer a whole lot of “want factor.”

 

What’s changed with the new Aston Martin Vantage?

Aston Martin Vantage

New Aston Martin Vantage

Aston Martin have been the quieter sports car brand in recent years, with only a few new mainstream models being released. While some may think they have been hiding behind old tyres in their workshop, worrying about the effects of Brexit, they have actually been working on their latest British supercar – the new Aston Martin Vantage.

After many years, the outgoing Aston Martin Vantage still turns heads. That being said, stack it up against it’s latest rivals and it does start to look like that high school teacher you’ve not seen for 10 years – a little bit old. So what’s new?

As you can see from the images, the new Vantage is wildly attractive and features many aerodynamic enhancements to keep it glued to the road. The chassis is a bonded aluminium structure which was first seen on the DB11. The difference here is that 70 percent of the components used are new and are tailored to the Vantage’s dynamics. Terms like “solid mounted rear subframe” have been thrown around but in short, Aston aimed for balance, strength, rigidity and weight efficiency. Great.

The previous V8 Vantage proved to be a recipe worth keeping and that recipe has been passed down to the latest generation with an all-new 4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine. Positioned far back in the engine bay for a better low centre of gravity, the V8 produces 380 kW ( 502bhp) and 685 Nm. This power output and the Vantage’s dry weight of 1530 kg results in a 0-100km/h time of 3.5 seconds. This is a huge difference compared to the outgoing car, Aston Martin however have never seemed to be about obtaining the fastest times. Rather they focus on pure driving experience and noise – we all love noise.

Another new addition is the Electronic Rear Differential (E-Diff) featured on the Vantage. While this may not be of interest to non petrolheads, this E-Diff is linked to the vehicles ESP, and can switch from fully to opened to locked very quickly (milliseconds). Aston say this “makes the car feel much more composed both in terms of its straight-line stability and its cornering performance, providing the driver with increased levels of confidence to explore and enjoy the car’s capabilities to the full.”

The Aston has a good level of standard equipment with features you would also find standard on many modern cars, such as keyless start/stop, tyre pressure monitoring system, parking distance display, park assist and front and rear parking sensors. What you won’t find in some modern cars is the level of luxury and craftsmanship the new Vantage provides, luxurious Alcantara® and leather upholstery is copious and a generous amount of personalisation is offered. The DB11 is a fantastic place to sit and we can’t image the new Vantage would be any different.

International deliveries of the new Aston Martin Vantage are scheduled to commence in the second quarter of 2018, so If you’re interested you should not have to wait much longer we imagine. Expect a price tag of over R2 Million. Register your interest here http://sandton.astonmartindealers.com/en/home/models/vantage

 

More Power, More Downforce: Aston Martin Vulcan AMR PRO

ASTON MARTIN VULCAN AMR PRO

ASTON MARTIN VULCAN AMR PRO

ASTON MARTIN VULCAN AMR PRO

In 2015, the gentlemen from Aston Martin showed us a side we never thought they possessed when they introduced the Vulcan, a vehicle which they described as being “wild, intense and for the track only.” It was a confusing time for all of us but now they have taken that car to what they call ‘extremely breath-taking new extremes’ in the form of the Aston Martin Vulcan AMR PRO, for those who thought that the ‘normal’ 600 kW, lap time destroyer wasn’t enough…

The numbers are just overwhelming, especially considering that this is Aston Martin for crying out loud, the same people who are worried about which cow their leather comes from. The new Aston Martin Vulcan AMR PRO boasts incredible performance – the 7.0-litre V12 has been slightly turned up to 611 kW, but the AMR PRO team has focused more on aerodynamic enhancements to the vehicle.

ASTON MARTIN VULCAN AMR PRO

Starting from the front, the car has louvered panels that have been added above the wheel arches to extract high-pressure air and reduce aerodynamic lift; a pair of dive planes have also been added to each side of the nose to help pin the front end to the track. A huge front splitter has turning vanes fitted to its underside to improve steering response, as well as a new carbon fibre lay-up core form, saving 5 kg. They have pretty much added fuel to the fire with all these improvements – the rear wing was crazy enough on the Vulcan and now it has a double plane rear wing! All these aerodynamic modifications increase downforce from 3150 N.m to a colossal 4000 N.m, not even Aston Martin’s Le Mans racing car, the Vantage GTE, creates that much force. Way to go Aston!

ASTON MARTIN VULCAN AMR PRO

Now it must be noted that Aston Martin has only made 24 Vulcans, all of which have been sold; and the Aston Martin Vulcan AMR PRO upgrades will only be available to the owners of the existing 24 Vulcans. It would be interesting to find out just how many of the 24 Vulcan owners thought to themselves, “this car isn’t enough…” Looking at the stats, it would appear that Aston Martin went all out with the Vulcan and all out with the AMR PRO Upgrade, so the question begs to be asked – how much more can they offer? The car made its official debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this past weekend and for those that are curious as to how much the upgrades will set you back, to tell you the truth, you’re not rich enough.

Aston Martin Vanquish S Released In South Africa

South African Launch of the Aston Martin Vanquish S

For as long as humans have lusted over motorcars, the question of whether or not a car can be considered to be art has existed. Silly as it may seem, many an art aficionado has gazed upon such beauties as the Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB  and E60 BMW M5 (a personal favourite) and have thought, “Psh, this is not art.” What these dreary individuals seem to completely miss, however, is that these vehicles are but three examples of a pool of cars we consider to be greater than the sum of their parts.

Similarly, there has been ambiguity as to whether photography can be considered to be art ever since it became commonplace in the 19th century and arguments such as “photography is too literal to compete with works of art” and that it is “unable to elevate the imagination” do not help the cause. Thankfully, then, a charming fellow by the name of Clint Strydom has gone off, armed with his camera and an Aston Martin One-77, and much like a naughty child skipping Physical Education on a Friday afternoon, stuck it to the man. Commissioned by Aston Martin Lagonda to capture the essence of their iconic brand, what Clint has come up with is truly remarkable.

 

Apt then, that Dr Ulrich Bez, Chairman of Aston Martin once said that “The true value of a work of art lies in the unique relationship between the art itself, its creator and ultimately its owner.” He then goes on to relate this to the cars which Aston Martin produce, noting that each vehicle reflects the personality of its owner in its unique specification – unless it’s second-hand, of course.

The local unveiling of the Aston Martin Vanquish S took place in Melrose Arch on the High Street, between the Daytona Melrose Arch Dealership and The Melrose Gallery where an exquisite exhibition of both Clint’s Inspired by Aston Martin series and a series of Esther Mahlangu’s works were on display. The significance of this was noted by few as Esther Mahlangu is one of the very few artists in the world to have been commissioned by BMW on two separate occasions to create a BMW Art Car, another amalgamation of the automotive and artistic spheres. The presence of these two visionaries was a fitting setting, then, for the local debut of Gaydon’s latest masterpiece and the halo vehicle of the Aston Martin brand.

The differences between the Aston Martin Vanquish and Vanquish S

Very similar to the “standard” Vanquish, only the eagle-eyed will notice the subtle differences between the Vanquish and its S counterpart. Most notable is the new aerodynamic package with its extended front splitter and rear diffuser, both fashioned from exposed carbon fibre and designed to reduce front lift with a minimal increase in parasitic drag. New quad exhaust pipes also emphasise the Vanquish S’ performance oriented character, as do the subtle changes to Aston Martin’s signature grille and side strakes.

Carbon fibre bonnet louvres, forged rims and various graphics packs can also be fitted to the Vanquish S.

Inside the vehicle, options with long and confusing names can be had such as “Bridge of Weir Caithness” leather and a Chopped Carbon Fibre finish which again suggests the overtly sporty nature of this flagship model.

Most notable changes are found beneath the skin in the form of all carbon fibre bodywork and recalibration of the 8-speed Touchtronic III transmission which now delivers faster gearshifts and is more refined at low speeds. Alterations to the inlet manifolds ups the power of the sonorous AM29 6.0-litre naturally-aspirated V12 from 424 kW/630 N.m (2014 onwards) to 444 kW/630 N.m. The larger volume inlet manifolds allow for a greater volume of air to flow into the engine at high rpm’s, creating stronger pull all the way to the redline as well as notably improved throttle response. 0-100 km/h is dealt with in 3.5 seconds and top speed is 323 km/h if you’re the sort of person who is concerned with those figures.

All of these aspects combine to create a GT which offers a distinctly different experience to the DB11, yet one that is still notably a product of the Aston Martin marque. The question is, do you feel that the Vanquish S is a work of art? If looking at it as a piece of art, some would say that at its starting price of R4 950 000, it’s a steal, but those who see it as just a motorcar might argue that that is quite a lot of money…

I leave you with this sentiment, then – you can gaze in awe at the lines, craftsmanship and attention to detail found in an Aston Martin, but you can’t drag race a painting.