New for 2009
Since its release in 2006, the V8 Vantage had a 4.3-liter V8 which produced 380 horsepower. Much more than that, and the light-weight Vantage would keep up with its older brother, the V12-wielding DB9. In an effort to keep that from happening (and pissing off DB9 owners,) Aston Martin kept the Vantage's power down. This made the Vantage slower than its arch rivals - namely the Porsche 911 Turbo and Audi R8. But not anymore.
For 2009, Aston Martin got fed up with Porsche owners stepping all over them with their run-of-the-mill 911s. They increased the displacement of the V8 from 4.2 liters to 4.7, upping the horsepower to 420, and increasing torque 15% to 347 lb-ft. What we have now is a full-fledged power-house. And I couldn't be happier.
Along with the bigger engine comes a modified clutch for manual transmissions, as well as a new program for Sportshift equipped cars to change between Sport and Comfort mode which changes the car's dynamics drastically, turning it from an excellent sports car into a comfortable cruiser. Additional changes for 2009 include a revised center console, an "ECU" (Emotion Control Unit) replacing the previous standard key, LED interior lighting, and new wheels, along with quite a few other small changes. The exterior is untouched this year (don't fix something if it isn't broken.)
Options and Trims
Engines and Drivetrain
The 2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage gets a new 420 horsepower 4.7-liter V8 engine, and comes available with either a 6-speed manual or Sportshift (paddle-shifter) gearbox. If the Sportshift option is chosen, the customer gets a new dual-throttle map mode, which allows them to choose between the default Sport mode, or a more tame Comfort mode. Comfort mode makes it easier to drive in high traffic or on the highway, reducing some of the jerkiness of the transmission and throttle, but doesn't respond to driver input as quickly.
An exciting new option for the 2009 V8 Vantage is the Sports Pack, which includes lightweight 5-spoke alloy wheels, re-tuned Bilstein dampers, up-rated springs and a revised rear anti-roll bar (on the coupe only.) The new wheels are very sexy, as you can see in the pictures. Aston Martin says the Sport Pack is very popular, chosen on 50% of all V8 Vantages produced, and will be offered as a retro-fit on all 2008 and below Vantages soon. Our test car had the Sport pack, and I was very impressed with the increased handling ability.
Additional options include an upgraded audio system, heated front seats, cruise control, bluetooth connectivity, GPS navigation, memory seats and mirrors, front parking sensors, HID headlights, and a few accessories such as a first aid kit and an umbrella. As usual, you can also customize the colors of the various interior trim and seats, from the color of stitching on the carpets, to the color of the headliner.
Do I really need to say anything here? The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is one of the most beautiful cars on the road today, inside and out. The new 5-spoke wheels included in the 2009 Sport Pack are great looking. Available in both a Coupe and Roadster, the V8 Vantage is one of few cars that look equally good in both variations.
Inside, the leather is beautifully hand-stitched with a thread color of your choice. The redesigned center console is finished with graphite silver, and houses the new glass ECU, first introduced on the DBS a couple years ago. An Alcantara headliner rounds out the luxurious interior. This car is nothing short of a work of art - from the instrument panel to the wheels; headlights to taillights, everything about this car screams sexy.
What we liked
Damn near everything. The V8 Vantage is a pleasure to drive, and the power bump for 2009 was a smart move for Aston Martin. The Sport/Comfort mode is great, and the Sport Pack will appeal to all driving enthusiasts. Handling is exceptional around corners, and the enhancements for 2009 keep you from feeling any flex in the chassis.
This is one of the most beautiful cars on the road today, and the swarms of people pointing and staring with jaws dropped won't let you forget that you're driving it. The engine note is fantastic at any RPM; a low-pitched growl of which you'll never tire. Extensive customization options, although expensive, let you have your Aston any way you want.
What we didn't like
There really isn't much to complain about with the Vantage. Aston Martin fixed the power issue that was a previous complaint, but I would still like to see some faster acceleration. Even with 420 horsepower, the 0-60 time is 4.7 seconds. While that's not a bad time, getting beaten off the line by a BMW M3 would be embarrassing. But then again, you're not buying an Aston Martin for the 0-60 time; you're buying it for the pleasure of driving it - and it delivers.
My only other complaints about the V8 Vantage are minor - there is a large blind spot out the rear due to the styling. That, however is a non-issue, since fixing it would require altering the styling, and that's not something you want to do to this car. In this case, the blind spot is worth it. Since I'm nitpicking, I think that cruise control should be standard, and the footwells are too narrow as well - I could see it becoming cramped in the manual transmission version.
Pricing and Warranty
The V8 Vantage is the cheapest way to get into an Aston Martin, but this "baby" Aston will still set you back at least $120,000. Here are the base prices:
The Sports Pack comes in at $3,785, HID auto-leveling headlights are $795, and Premium Audio $1,595. Many other options are available, and you can customize the exterior and interior colors any way you choose. The no-cost options are limited to eight "Fast Track" choices, while the nine "Contemporary" colors will cost you $750. DBS Special colors will cost $1,895, and any Special colors such as the Sunburst Yellow paint will run $3,785. Want your car to match your favorite shoes? Send Aston Martin your shoe and they'll match it for $3,785. Same thing for the interior - choose your leather, trim, carpeting, stitching, and headliner colors…the list goes on.
Before You Buy
Unless you're a fanatic about manual transmissions, check out the Sportshift option. Our test car had Sportshift, and not only does it do a great job as a paddle-shifting gearbox, but the Sport/Comfort modes alone make it worth the extra cost. It even gets slightly better fuel economy than the manual.