Aston Martin Vantage — Something special

Photo by Nathaniel Zanavich

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(November 15, 2020) The Aston Martin Vantage is a great highway cruiser and works well for a long day behind the wheel, but don't let its admirable interstate manners fool you. The Vantage is a purpose-built performance machine. Example number one — its selectable suspension and throttle modes do not include a Comfort setting. Your choices are simply Sport, Sport + and Track. Example number two — it’s propelled by a potent 503-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that can hit 60 mpg in 3.5 seconds.

The 2020 two-seat Vantage, redesigned for the 2019 model year, is more — much more — than performance, however. Its sculpted bodywork will turn heads, an aggressive yet beautiful design with long clamshell hood and short deck connected by a flowing cabin is stunning. The rear is especially expressive with its high-riding horizontal taillights, hiked-up rear spoiler and quad pipes
surrounded by fender extensions. And the special Onyx Black paint that covered our test car seemed to highlight the striking aspects of the exterior design. The Vantage will give its owner driveway bragging rights, and it will attract onlookers in the mall parking lot.

Photo by Nathaniel Zanavich

The standard 20-inch wheels with a choice of two wheel styles amplifies the car's athletic stance wrapped in Pirelli P Zero (255/40 at the front, 295 35 at the rear), which have been specifically tuned to suit the driving dynamics of the Vantage in both wet and dry conditions.

Although the rear-drive Vantage is the entry point into the Aston Martin family, it is by no means a base car. It belongs in an elite group of sports cars from the Porsche 911 Carrera S to the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Coupe, a hand-built machine that begins at a well-equipped $156,081 including destination charge.

The heart and soul of the Vantage is the Mercedes AMG-derived 4.0-liter 503-horsepower V-8 making 505 pound-feet of torque that will set you back in your seat with its also-Mercedes-sourced 8-speed automatic, which smoothly finds the right gear at the right time powering up with a lethal snarl to 100 mph in about 7.5 seconds. If you are privy to an abandoned airport runway you can prove Aston Martin's claim that the Vantage is capable of a top speed of 195 mph. For those who are interested in gas mileage — the Vantage has a decent EPA rating of 18 city, 24 highway and 20 combined.

We discovered that the standard adaptive suspension with its three modes is best in Sport for daily cruising and works quite well in Sport + for road carving. While the Sport setting keeps the drive relatively smoothed out for long-distance travel, Sport + stiffen things up for rewarding driving on the twists and turns as we discovered with a trip to our usual winding rural road "test track." It's easy to drive fast when the road becomes curvy, and the Vantage lives up to its super sports car promise. And the Vantage's big V-8 muscle-car sound should excite any fan of go-fast machines.

In every day commuting, we found the Vantage has some significant blind spots, but the car comes with a blindspot monitoring system in the side mirrors, which thankfully took the drama out of merging and passing. Missing, however, was adaptive cruise control, a feature we have gotten used to in many test cars, but strangely absent from the expensive Vantage.

The interior has the proper look of a high-end sports car. It offers a cockpit dominated by sharp, focused lines highlighting the aggressive nature of the car. A high waist interior theme and lower driving position creates a sports car driving experience, contributing to gains in occupant space and improvement in headroom compared with the outgoing Vantage. A combination of rotary and toggle style controls have been provided for their tactile and intuitive functionality. We were particularly enthralled with the PRND transmission buttons that are located in a triangular formation to the right of the driver.

We found the living area was short of small-item storage and was minus a glovebox. There's a shelf behind the seats for coats and small bags. And under the rear hatch is a very useful cargo capacity of 10 cubic feet, enough for two people and their possessions on a long trip — double the capacity of the Porsche 911.

The Vantage is loaded with standard equipment, but missing are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. And the center screen, which is a smallish 8-inches, is primarily controlled via a rotary knob and buttons on the center console and lacks some of the cutting-edge technology found on many less-expensive cars. Optional are an upgraded audio system and touchpad.
Many of the available options involve interior upgrades such as full leather, heated and ventilated seats, a carbon fiber steering wheel, embroidered headrests and several choices for interior trim. Our test car included $27,936 in desirable, but expensive options including the good-sounding audio system ($3,190) bringing the bottom line to $184,017 including a $3,086 destination charge.

2020 Aston Martin Vantage


Base price: $156,081; as driven: $184,017
Engine: 4.0-liter twin turbocharged V-8
Horsepower: 503 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 505 foot-pounds @ 2,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2
Wheelbase: 106.5 inches
Length: 175.8 inches
Curb weight: 3,725 pounds
Turning circle: NA
Luggage capacity: 10 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 19.3 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 18 city, 24 highway, 20 combined
0-60: 3.5 seconds (Aston Martin)
Also consider: Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, Porsche 911, Jaguar F-Type

The Good
• Potent V-8 engine
• Great styling
• Outstanding handling

The Bad
• Infotainment tech outdated

The Ugly
• No AppleCar Play, Android Auto