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2018 Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Before Aston Martin laid the last Vantage to rest, the manufacturing folks from Warwickshire presented a final special edition Vantage AMR. It featured lightweight carbon fiber body parts, downforce-inducing carbon fiber aerodynamics, and carbon ceramic brakes. It was offered in V-8 or V-12 configuration with the former as a normally aspirated 4.7-liter unit pushing 430 horsepower and 361 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via 6-speed manual transmission. Zero-to-60 mph took less than 4.8 seconds as its powertrain was based on the Vantage S. Reasonably quick for a GT luxury car, but not for a car that cost $150,000.

And that was always the issue with Aston Martins. Its aesthetics, prestige, and exhaust note are more than enough to make up for its average performance. But when a Mustang GT is putting more power down for less than 1/3rd the price you can't shake the feeling that it needs more spice under the hood. Good thing Aston Martin, after 12 years, has finally released a successor. The 2018 Aston Martin Vantage.

Rumors about Mercedes-AMG supplying the engine are true. The front-mid mounted motor residing in the new Vantage is a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 producing 503 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 505 lb-ft of torque at 2000 - 5000 rpm. It sports dual overhead cams, water-to-air charge cooling, 10.5:1 compression, direct injection, slim wet sump, and variable valve timing for intake and exhaust. Pretty much the same kind of unit you'd see in a Mercedes AMG GT S with the exception of a dry sump lubrication system. Paired with an ever-popular rear mounted ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, the new Vantage hurls from zero-to-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and tops out at 195 mph (314 kmh).

Some of that speed is attributed to the redesigned bonded aluminum and steel chassis. A new front splitter sends air through the underbody to a rear diffuser, and side grilles deliver high pressure air out of the front wheel arches. A new rear deck lid creates an unlisted measure of downforce though Aston Martin says it's a significant amount.

According to Aston Martin only 30% of the previous Vantage S remains in the new model, and the updated design benefits from stiffer rigidity while weighing less. The most significant improvement is the solid mounted rear subframe giving drivers more confidence in the corners. The suspension uses a familiar setup - front SLA with rear multi-link geometry, adaptive dampers with three modes, coil springs, and anti-roll bars at both ends. Gorgeous 20-inch Y spoked wheels wear 255/40 ZR20 and 295/35 ZR20 Pirelli P Zero tires specially designed for the car. Cast wheels are standard, forged wheels optional. Aston Martin claims a 3373 lb (1530 kg) dry weight with 50:50 weight distribution.

Brakes are also similar to the Vantage S. 400mm two-piece ventilated iron discs and 360mm co-cast discs adjoin 6- and 4-piston calipers. In order to improve feedback while driving, Aston Martin updated the brake booster and master cylinder in addition to using electric power steering enabling steering weight to change depending on speed. Upgrades to cornering reside from the addition of dynamic torque vectoring and an electric limited slip differential. Aston Martin says the use of an electric differential allows more control than a mechanical solution, along with the ability to fully lock in milliseconds.

Inside, Aston Martin has replaced the archaic waterfall console with a more modern design. An 8-inch LCD sits at the top center followed by vents underneath followed by a symmetrical stack of HVAC buttons and knobs. Aston Martin notes the use of physical buttons is faster and easier to use for drivers while on the move, and anyone that has had to deal with menus or touch sensitive buttons would agree. Transmission controls reside at a bottom intersection in triangle formation with a pulsing push-start button at its apex. Interfacing with the infotainment system is done through a touchpad hovering over a rotary knob - exactly like one you'd see in a Mercedes. The German-designed controller is not perfect, but it's sure to be more reliable and usable than the frustrating dinosaur on previous Astons.

Standard interior trims in the Vantage include Strathmore leather, Alcantara liners, and gloss black inlay. Caithness or Balmoral leather, carbon fiber steering wheel, sport steering wheel, Sport Plus seating, and carbon fiber inlay are optional. Parking sensors, 360 degree camera, rear view camera, Bluetooth, navigation, ventilated seats, and column mounted paddle shifters are included on all Vantage models but heated seats with 16-way adjustment are only available on U.S. models with Comfort package. Other silly options like colored brake calipers, headrest embroidery, seat belt colors, and grille mesh colors are also available but it would take too long to list. Just know that Aston gives customers plenty of creative freedom to show off personal taste.

Price for the 2018 Aston Martin Vantage starts at $149,995, $7000 less than the Mercedes AMG GT C Roadster. With the GT C its 4.0-liter V-8 is tuned to produce 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. It's also a convertible so it's more fitting for dreamy summer drives. However, it having a soft top increases its curb weight and the resulting zero-to-60 mph is only 3.6 seconds. Several years ago, those looking for that cute spot between sport and luxury would usually choose a Porsche or Mercedes. Now, Aston Martin is back into the mix. We don't expect the new Vantage to overbear the competition, but it's good progress when performance is changed from an aspect you have to defend to an element you can be proud of.

U.S. sales for the 2018 Aston Martin Vantage begin second quarter 2018.