By Joe Santos - Updated Date: 7/30/2012
When thinking of the 2012 Aston Martin Vantage, the term "trophy wife" comes to mind. That's not to say the Vantage is all looks with no substance – after all, even trophy wives can earn PhDs and have loads of personality – but it's this Aston's aesthetics that undoubtedly draws the most attention. On paper, comparing the Vantage coupe or convertible to cars like the Audi R8, Porsche 911 Carrera S, Maserati Gran Turismo and Jaguar XKR might make it seem like a bit of a socialite outcast at a country club, but while this beauty may not steal hearts right off the bat, it sure will steal a lot of looks. Opting for the V12 trim, however, levels the performance on the playing field.You'll Like This Car If...
The Aston Martin Vantage is like the watch you wear only on special occasions – it does everything that all your other watches do, but with added precision and craftsmanship.You May Not Like This Car If...
The Aston Martin Vantage is a fast sports car regardless of which trim level you choose, but unfortunately, there are faster cars – like the Porsche 911 Carrera S and even the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 – that carry cheaper price tag.What's New for 2012
For the 2012 model year, the base Aston Martin V8 Vantage gets the automated manual transmission, steering gear, larger brakes and wider tires that were previously only found on the higher-trim Vantage S. Other changes are limited to a revised navigation system that's easier to use.Driving It Driving Impressions
While some of its competitors might be faster on paper, there's no denying that the Aston Martin V8 Vantage is still fun to drive. It confidently carves through curvy roads and is comfortable enough for lengthy highway cruises. We credit the Vantage's responsive steering feel to its newly acquired upgrades and applaud its ability to effectively blend racecar driving dynamics with overall easy-to-drive comfort. Praises aside, we found the automated manual transmission's shifts a little rough, especially at slower speeds. One thing that more than makes up for this is the remarkable exhaust note, which almost negates the need for an in-cabin sound system.Favorite Features
Call us "hardcore racers" or "gluttons for punishment," but we like the stiffer ride and sharper handling and steering that the Vantage Sport Pack's suspension upgrades provide.
It's not a dedicated feature, but it's hard to ignore the sheer beauty and elegance that is the Aston Martin Vantage. This car is a prime example what happens when a car design goes frighteningly right.
The Vantage's interior is virtually identical to that found in the DB9, DBS and Virage with the exception of the lack of a rear seat. Unlike the others, the Vantage is a 2-seater, but it has all of the luxurious accoutrements anyone would expect from a car with an Aston Martin badge. Soft-touch leather panels and real-metal trim pieces can be found throughout, but there's isn't an option for any wood treatments. When sitting inside the cabin, the low roof and thick pillars can feel cocoon-like depending on how tall the occupants are, and visibility is good, but narrow. Overall, the cabin feels a little cramped in comparison to the Porsche 911, which feels spacious for a 2-seater.Exterior
As with other models in Aston Martin's line, the Vantage has a sleek shape that looks like it was carved via wind erosion rather than at the hand of a designer. Its subtle lines and utter lack of sharp edges is a welcome sight when put next to other cars like the wide Audi R8 and the stubby Porsche 911. The classic coupe shape lives on with the Aston Martin Vantage – it's what all those matchbox cars your childhood aspired to be.Notable Standard Equipment
As one would expect from a car of this caliber, the standard features roster for the Vantage is quite lengthy. Most notable among them, though, is a 4.7-liter, V8 engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential and xenon headlights. On the V12 Vantage, a navigation system and Bluetooth are standard, as is cruise control and carbon ceramic brakes. The Carbon Black trim adds gloss-black wheels, a chrome grille and piano-black interior trim. All trims come with 19-inch wheels as standard. Oddly enough, the V8 Vantage does not come with cruise control, Bluetooth or a navigation system as standard. The convertibles come with a power soft top.Notable Optional Equipment
As far as options, the Vantage can be outfitted with a Sport Pack that adds lightweight wheels and upgraded springs, dampers and anti-sway bars for an even sportier driving experience. The N420 Special Edition trim includes these options and adds some unique styling flair along with black wheels, a suede steering wheel, cruise control and Bluetooth capability. The Vantage S trim comes with a more powerful V8, suspension upgrades, cruise control and Bluetooth. Other options to the base trim include heated seats, a navigation system, front parking sensors and a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system. Custom paint and interior colors are also available.Under the Hood
The Aston Martin Vantage is available with 3 different engine choices depending on the trim level. The base V8 trim comes with a 4.7-liter V8 engine that can be connected to either a 6-speed manual transmission or an automated transmission with six or seven gears. The higher-trim Vantage S houses a revised V8 underhood, which puts out 10 more horsepower and 15 more lb-ft of torque and can only be had with the 7-speed automated gearbox. And the top-trim V12 Vantage comes with – you guessed it – a 6.0-liter V12 engine that's only available with a 6-speed manual for a truly visceral driving experience.
420 horsepower @ 7,300 rpm
346 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/19 mpg (manual), 13/20 mpg (6-speed automatic), 14/21 mpg (7-speed automatic)
430 horsepower @ 7,300 rpm
361 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/21 mpg
510 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
420 lb-ft of torque @ 5,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/17 mpg
The 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $122,000. Adding the automatic transmission adds on about $4,000. Opting for the N420 trim level makes the price jump to around $133,000, while the Vantage S trim commands a price tag of about $140,000. Those wanting a little more than what eight cylinders offer can expect to pay $185,000 for the V12 Vantage and about $200,000 for the Carbon Black Edition.