The arrival of the fresh spring weather was met with the launch of a brand new range of 2012 Aston Martin Vantages, with the luxury British car manufacturer showcasing the beautiful sports car in a tour of carefully-selected venues across England.
Gloucestershire’s Cowley Manor played home to three new cars in the range for a day – a V8 Vantage Coupe and V8 Vantage S Coupe, as well the V12 Vantage Coupe – inviting special guests, VIPs and a few journalists to enjoy a test drive in the glorious Cotswolds countryside.
Lined-up in front of the contemporary-chic country house hotel in a tricolour of red, white and blue, the new Vantages were a head turning sight – their covetable design surpassed only by the refined roar of the engines as each was brought to life by three excited drivers, unashamedly grinning ear-to-ear.
I took the manual transmission V8 Vantage Coupe for a spin – pictured here in red, although Aston can make it in any colour you’d like – and once I’d stopped trying to see the end of the bonnet, mastered the sensitivity of the pedals and slowed my heart down, was amazed at just how accessible, relaxed and intuitive the ride immediately was.
The model I drove featured a raft of improvements first seen in the V8 Vantage S, including a revised 4.7-litre 420bhp engine – capable of top speeds up to 190mph – plus a new gearbox to provide faster and more precise shifts, optimised acceleration and a sportier driving experience.
Plus, the new range as a whole has benefited from improvements to the cars’ dynamics, style and value; there’s now a seven-speed Sportshift version; and the chassis and brakes have been upgraded to deliver greater feel, response and control, according to the manufacturers.
While still unmistakably a Vantage, the latest updates have included a sharpening of the V8’s great looks too, thanks to a motorsport-derived aerodynamic package. Indeed, as we cruised past other cars on the A417 near Cirencester, all eyes were on the sleek, beautiful and iconic Aston.
When the opportunity arose, after dropping the car’s speed down with the new 380mm ventilated cast-iron front discs, there was a chance to put its acceleration to the test: the V8’s torque bringing the hairs on the back of my neck to attention, while the growl of the exhaust opening up over 3,000rpm can only be described as a sound of true beauty.
Slipping off onto the B roads and the Vantage’s handling was the subject of attention, effortlessly clinging to the corners of the country lanes with not a hint of roll – thanks in part to the solid aluminium structure, coupled with almost 100 years of engineering experience, of course.
Hand-built, encompassing almost 200 man hours of work, starting at a relatively reasonable £84,995 and offering an instantly unforgettable driving experience, if you’re in the market for this calibre of sports car the Vantage is one you won’t want to hide in the garage for special weekends.
The new Aston Martin Vantage V8 2012 range is available from Broughtons of Cheltenham – call (01242) 515374 for details. For more information about the full range see astonmartin.com, and to find out more about Cowley Manor see cowleymanor.com directly.
By James Fyrne
Monday 09 April 2012
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