There is a reason we love Aston Martins, and it is probably the same reason that fictitious British super spy James Bond loves the cars; they possess peerless Cool Britannia style that makes driving one an adventure, even when it is just for a milk run to the store.
This dedication to fashion might have kept Aston stuck in a bit of a rut, however, as its new models could have had a bit too much deference to the brand's classics for modern tastes.
But just as Bond has moved on from the original Sean Connery to today's Daniel Craig, so has Aston shifted its form language from the past to the future with the new Vantage.
This change will ruffle feathers of traditionalists, as the new Vantage's slick sheetmetal cleanly cleaves the air for maximum performance, with little regard to reminding onlookers of Aston's glorious heritage.
Instead, the Vantage announces with its appearance that it is a thoroughly contemporary and crisply effective high-performance weapon. As on the racetrack, the Vantage's aerodynamic work is done mostly beneath the car, so this new model has a large intake and splitter at its nose to manage airflow so that it produces traction-enhancing downforce at speed.
This maw at the front is the Vantage's most controversial aspect, and rather than shy from it, the company chose to provide test cars finished in electric green with a starkly contrasting grille area. While this intake seems disproportionate in many photos, that is mostly because cars are most photogenic when shot from a very low angle that isn't representative of how we see them on the street from standing height.
This means that in person, the car looks strikingly modern, without being over the top. Just like now-classic Astons did back when they were new.
We think the new Vantage will take its place in Aston's pantheon of classics, and here are five key reasons why:
1. Cool tech
No, there is no oil slick dispenser or ejection seat, but the Vantage is laden with abundant relevant technology. This includes an electronic differential, dynamic torque vectoring, and adaptive shock absorbers that combine to give 007 an advantage when trying to elude evil attackers.
It also features an 8-inch LCD screen for the Aston Martin Audio System with Bluetooth audio and phone streaming, iPod, iPhone and USB playback. Plus, there is also an integrated satellite navigation system and wi- fi hub to connect your mobil devices or laptop.
2. Better handling
The Vantage is built on the same all-aluminum foundation as the DB11 that we tested previously. As good as the DB11 is, the Vantage is even better for sporting purposes, because this model dispenses with the DB11's make-believe back seat, so it is nearly a foot shorter than its big brother.
Even more importantly, considering its marketplace rivals, it is also 1.3 inches shorter than the sports car benchmark Porsche 911.
While the Vantage shares the chassis design of the DB11, it has 70 percent unique parts. Most critically, because the subframe mounting the rear suspension is solidly bolted to the frame rather than attached with rubber bushings, which produces a chassis that is 11 percent stiffer.
This makes the Vantage more responsive to suspension settings, and the adaptive shock absorbers function is more readily apparent when the frame doesn't twist and bend while hammering around tracks like Portugal's Algarve International Circuit.
3. Twin-turbo V8 power
The Vantage borrows the spectacularly amazing 503-horsepower 4.0-liter AMG-Mercedes twin-turbo V8 that so impressed us with its grunt and character in the AMG GT.
In this application, the engine continues to impress, providing an astonishing aural impersonation of a naturally aspirated engine, while producing the prodigious 505 lb.-ft. torque from just 2000 rpm in turbo motor fashion.
That thrust launches the Vantage from 0-60 mph in just 3.5 seconds and to a terminal velocity of 195 mph, letting the Vantage knock on the door of supercar territory.
4. Track-ready aerodynamics
While previous Aston Martins may have been drawn with an Old Masters-grade adherence to tradition notions of art and beauty, the new Vantage pays primary tribute to the all-knowing wind tunnel.
The tunnel, and computational fluid dynamics models dictate that the front splitter feeds air to the smooth underside, where airflow is fenced off from escaping out the sides and funneled to the rear diffuser.
Meanwhile, on the sides, the gills in the front fenders bleed air out from the front wheel wells to help keep the front end stuck to the road. At the rear, the Vantage wears a ducktail flip to balance the car with some rear downforce.
The DB11 has a flat tail in comparison, achieved with that car's Air Blade system for producing downforce from a system of air ducts. Even without it, the Vantage's sinewy shape produces "a significant level of downforce," according to Aston.
5. Unmistakable character
The Mercedes-AMG V8 speaks with a voice that belies its turbocharged nature, and the Vantage's rear-mounted 8-speed ZF automatic abets the engine in its delinquency.
You control the transmission with the Vantage's steering column-mounted aluminum shift paddles. Unlike those in the McLaren 720, for example, Aston Martin mounts the paddles to the column rather than on the steering wheel, so when accelerating out of a turn and unwinding the steering wheel, the driver can still find the upshift paddle.
The gearbox cracks off lightning fast shifts on each squeeze of the paddle, but to look like a real pro, the driver can simply hold the right paddle in while braking for a turn and the Vantage will automatically make the downshifts at the correct rpm.
With the car in the track mode setting, with the exhaust valves wide open for maximum enjoyment, this function provides exactly the experience that was feared lost forever with the rise of ubiquitous turbocharging and the exhaust muffling effect of having those impeller turbines obstructing the exhaust flow.
When it comes down to it, when shopping for something like an Aston Martin, this character is what justifies spending an extra hundred thousand dollars over something like a Mustang or Camaro. Mission accomplished, Aston.
The new Vantage is on sale now with a starting retail price of $149,995. Look for deliveries to begin during the second quarter of 2018.