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Aston Martin V8 Vantage S Coupe
Enter the leather lined cocoon of the Aston Martin Vantage S and you are immediately immersed in a haven of British craftsmanship. Swathes of soft leather with sublime stitching immediately distinguish this car as exclusive.
Whilst the car is the fruit of a brand steeped in tradition, the cabin is contemporary, modern and brimming with technology.
The car lacks a conventional key. I was presented with a stainless steel and glass object, which my co-pilot referred to as an “Emotion Control Unit”. Rectangular in shape, it was placed in a slot within the dashboard which beckoned me to do so with a strobing light. Once fully inserted the car erupted into life.
An aural delicacy
The 4.7 litre V8 had a throaty warble which sent a shiver down my spine, the exhaust emitting emotion with every revolution of the powerplant. The sound of the car immediately provided a sense of purpose, an aural delicacy to delight the driver.
Aston Martin have not followed the current trend of utilising a twin-clutch automatic gearbox. My co-pilot from Aston Martin explained that this would have proved much heavier than their preferred option, the Sportshift II automated manual. Moreover, the Italian Graziano gearbox fitted to the Aston Martin imparts greater driver involvement and a heightened experience.
I have driven twin-clutch automatic gearboxes and been generally very impressed. The Sportshift II is a different experience. It provides the opportunity for the driver to rifle through the ratios with incredible speed using the column mounted controls adjacent the steering wheel. It encourages intimate participation with every corner as you decide whether to drop one gear or may be two in quick succession.
Some brands choose to provide a 2+2 configuration but the rear accommodation is virtually useless, providing insufficient room for an anorexic’s lunch box. Aston Martin have made this a true two seater, reducing the overall length of the car and thereby imparting a nimble, agile demeanour.
It is the alacrity with which you can deftly select the preferred gear in combination with the steerings incredible directional manoeuvrability which allows precise positioning of the car on the road.
This is a driver's tool, carefully honed on the road and track. It is at home on a country lane or the Nordschleife.
Aston Martin has not abandoned aesthetics in the pursuit of speed. The car is gorgeous to behold.
The fluidity of the form cheats the air of resistance, scything through winds and offering superior cross directional stability.
The grille on the front wings bears a silver coloured trim which provides a continuum with the swage line across the doors and rear wings.
The rear wings are slightly bulbous, enveloping the Bridgestone shod wheels. However, the execution is harmonious, beautifully formed and without any outré vulgarity.
Aston Martin has pursued downforce and sought to minimise the Cd figure but the front splitter integrates flawlessy and avoids the grotesque "bolt-on" character, sadly visible on some performance cars.
The V8 Vantage S is handsome from any angle. The orignal design was penned several years ago and has won praise the worldover. It still looks fresh and contemporary. Its mode has not been diminished with the passing of years. It has a prodigious timeless quality.
A sense of occasion
The cockpit has a sense of purpose. It is beautifully trimmed and bristling with creature comforts but first and foremost it is a driving tool. The driver always feels at the epicentre of proceedings.
Look ahead and you will see the instrument binnacle. The dials bestow information in a succint manner, the needles of the guages imparting the information perfectly, like the hands of Jaeger-LeCoultre watch. However, Aston Martin have not eschewed flourishes of style. The starting sequence includes the words "Power", "Beauty" and "Soul" appearing in an apeture within the speedometer. There is a real sense of occasion when immersed in the driver's seat of this curvaceous coupé.
My romance with the Aston Martin marque commenced many years ago like many alpha males watching James Bond films. The achingly beautiful shape of the DB5 in Goldfinger remains one of the most coveted cars to this day.
I thoroughly enjoyed my driving experience behind the wheel of the Vantage and would not hesitate to recommend this handsome automotive delicacy. Smell its bouquet. It has a pleasing nose. Admire the clarity of its appearance. Enjoy the notes of its formidable powerplant and savour the follow through as you clip the apexes on a country lane.
The Aston Martin Vantage V8 S is automotive premier cru and I would never tire of indulging in copiously quaffing its immense talents.