"The entry point to Aston Martin ownership certainly doesn't skimp on style or performance – the V8 Vantage is definitely an Aston"
It's surely one of the best-looking sports cars on the market, and thankfully the Aston Martin V8 Vantage is one of the best to drive too. It was launched in 2005, but subtle updates have kept it looking fresh and changes to the engine and chassis have ensured it doesn't feel dated on the road either. The 4.3-litre engine has been bored out to 4.7-litres now, allowing for blistering performance.
Original examples of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage were fitted with a 4.3-litre V8, but more recent models come with a more powerful 420bhp 4.7-litre engine. That gives the car impressive acceleration from 0-62mph in under five seconds, and a deafening roar can be heard from the twin exhausts every time you press the throttle. On smooth surfaces and sweeping bends the car is great fun to drive fast – our only gripes are the over-light steering and the clunky Sportshift automated manual gearbox. Thankfully, a normal six-speed manual gearbox is also offered, which is the setup we’d recommend.
Sports cars always have to compromise when it comes to comfort, and on bad surfaces bumps send vibrations through the whole car, but once on the motorway the V8 Vantage is an excellent companion for long trips - albeit with some tyre noise entering the cabin. For enthusiastic drivers, if you don’t mind an even bumpier ride around town, the lower and stiffer Sport Pack suspension can be ordered, which sharpens up the car's responses further. As with all Astons, just sitting in the luxurious interior is an experience to savour – the supportive seats stay comfortable on long distance drives, too.
Much like its main rival, the Porsche 911, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage is brilliantly built and benefits from being driven regularly – it can even cope with being used occasionally on track. No major recalls have been issued, and even the relatively complicated Sportshift automated manual gearbox has proved to be problem free. A set of tyres is likely to last 20,000 miles and a clutch should last for 40,000 miles without needing to be replaced. For such a high-performance machine, the V8 Vantage's dependability is impressive.
Unlike some rivals, which squeeze two unusable small seats in the back, the Aston is strictly for two front passengers only – with a useful storage area behind the seats. A hatchback rear door means the 300-litre boot, which is big enough for a couple of reasonable-sized suitcases, is easily accessible. Although the interior is uncluttered and beautifully laid-out, the Volvo-derived sat-nav can be unreliable and tricky to use, so we’d pack a map as well, just in case.
Value for money
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is the entry point to the range, but that doesn’t mean it comes cheap. Prices start at around £85,000, but that includes loads of luxury equipment as standard, including leather upholstery and MP3 connectivity. For those with deeper pockets, the N420 special edition adds extra equipment, such as lighweight bucket seats, plus the Sport Pack suspension and a sports exhaust as standard.
A car as exclusive and fast as this will never be cheap to run, so brace yourself for high fuel, repair and servicing costs. A 10,000 mile service will cost around £800, while combined fuel economy of 20.5mpg isn’t bad for a V8 sports car, but will have you stopping at the pumps roughly every 350 miles, and that's only if you can resist exploring the car's performance. A sky-high emissions figure of 321g/km puts it in the top tax bracket, too. The good news is Aston Martins are always in demand and hold their value well when the time comes to sell.