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Aston Vantage V8 S
Aston Martin launches hotter, faster, sharper version of the Vantage V8

There’s now a new quicker, sharper version of the Vantage V8, a model that’s been continually improved in detail over the years, but never significantly changed until now. It’s the Vantage V8 S, the ‘S’ standing for Sport, and it’s around £20,000 more than the Vantage S, at £102,500.

In racing, the Vantage has been a great success, and the S inevitably draws on the style of the GT4 racer and the V8’s roadgoing big brother, the V12 Vantage in the shape of the sills and the detailing of the front splitter. New wheels, wider at the rear, and with wider tyres all round, finish the styling job, so it’s down to detail – but significant – changes to define the Sportiness.

Power is up, of course, though only by 10bhp, but torque has increased by 20Nm, and it all happens slightly higher up the rev range, mostly through changes to the shape of the airboxes. Interestingly, though, there’s an extra 20bhp at the rear wheels over the non-S Vantage, through a swap to air-cooling rather than oil-cooling the transaxle (the oil pump saps power) – and the other big change back there is the use of a seven-speed automated manual in place of the six-speed.

That makes one hell of a difference, because the V8 is a revvy beast, with far less torque than the V12. The seven ratios fit within the six-speed’s spread, so they’re much coser, and nipping up and down through the gears on the paddle shift keeps the engine singing – and the car flying.

Not so with the gearbox left to its own devices in Drive though (even in Sports mode), when the change seems clunky and sometimes inappropriately judged. Stick with the paddles, they’re a lot more fun.

New brakes, tweaked suspension for less understeer, higher ratio steering (15:1 in place of 17:1) and reduced weight all make for a noticably more agile machine, without much detriment to the ride. Over bumps it will shudder, but it’s never uncomfortable, and even on track it’s utterly unflappable, as demonstrated in a session on the demanding Ascari circuit in Spain.

What’s most noticable on both road and track is the revised engine’s keenness to rev, soaring round to the redline when pushed hard, with a wonderful crispness to the engine note that’s more racer than road car. Like the Vantage V8, the S always sounds best at the top of its rev range, and the quad cam 4.7-litre V8 in the S is always happy to oblige, though there’s enough torque lower down the rev range for it to be pottled around if you can bear to do so.

On the track it becomes clear that the changes to spring, damping and anti-roll rates has reduced understeer, making a little heroic oversteer easier to achieve, but go bowling into a corner too fast, too hard, and it won’t spit you out however hamfisted you’ve been. This isn’t a track car but Aston Martin are keen that owners are able to use the S for the occasional track day – and it won’t disappoint.

A true sports car to complement the DB9 and Virage’s GT credentials.

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