As Aston's smallest offering (aside from the tiny Cygnet), the Vantage is also the most biased toward performance, rather than comfort, though it doesn't yield an inch on luxury. MotorAuthority has driven the Vantage in several forms, and finds it to be at once refined and yet pleasingly raw in its performance. We rate the 2011 Aston Martin Vantage 8 out of 10.
The 2011 Vantage is available in a number of variants, including a V-12-powered V12 Vantage model; the Nurburgring-inspired, slightly lighter N420; the Vantage S; and others. The standard Vantage is powered by a 4.7-liter V-8 engine rated for 420 horsepower and a 4.7-second 0-60 mph sprint. The Vantage S adds 10 horsepower and shaves two tenths from the 0-60. The heavily modified V12 Vantage adds another 30 to the Vantage S, for a total of 510 horsepower, while cutting the 60-mph run to 4.2 seconds. Whichever model you choose, the Vantage is a handy platform for quick acceleration.
But does it turn? Most definitely. Shifting through the chunky gears with the beefy manual shifter in a V12 Vantage, or running through them with the SportShift II seven-speed single-clutch automated manual in the Vantage S, the Vantage chassis takes readily to the track or the street, eating curves like hors d'oeuvres and encouraging the driver to keep going.
Inside, the entire Vantage range offers different takes on a similar theme: functionality mingled with jeweled finishes and rich materials, laced with a dash of modern high-tech. Comfort is relatively high even in this, the rawest of the Astons, but then you'd expect that given the price tag, but there's a shortage of space, particularly head room, and depending on the model, the ride may be a bit more jarring than you'd like.
Is the Vantage range the best of Aston Martin? Not really; the other Astons offer similar, if somewhat less distilled, performance, while ensconcing the occupants in more relaxing surroundings. Without the bottom-line payoff of true supercar performance, it's not quite worth the compromises to comfort and space.