Aston Martin has unveiled the 2012 Vantage range, most notably including improvements to the V8 Vantage that make it sharper to drive and better looking.

Aston says it's the "most comprehensive programme of performance enhancements since 2008" for the entry-level Vantage, basically taking some of the stuff from the more powerful Vantage S and adding it to the base model V8.

The V8 Vantage still comes with a 420bhp 4.7-litre V8 and a six-speed manual as standard, but those wanting an auto now get a seven-speed Sportshift II gearbox, which replaces the (slightly jerky) six-speed Sportshift unit. It's quicker to change gears, smoother and, thanks to a longer final drive, better for motorway economy.

The steering rack is sharpened up, the tyres are widened, and the brakes are beefed up - all enhancements taken from the Vantage S. It also gets hill start assist, so the possibility of an embarrassing 'Asda start' (a roll back) are, to stick with the Aston theme, vanquished.

It now looks better, too, with a body kit taken from the...yes, that's right. It includes a lower front bumper (now with added splitter), a bigger air intake, a rear diffuser, and lower side sills.


And, amazingly, the price has dropped, with a base car now costing £84,995, down from £90,895. You could use the money you save as a deposit for a Cygnet.

The Vantage S now dips below six figures, costing £99,995 from £102,500. It still has ten more bhp than the bog standard V8 from the same engine, but gets a more carbon-laced interior, a standard auto, a sports exhaust and, for the first time, a sat nav included in the price.

And Aston, not a company to miss a trick, has taken this opportunity to remind us that the V12 Zagato is coming out soon - a car that's technically part of the Vantage range. Here's a gratuitous shot of the limited edition, custom bodied, £330,000 beauty...


And here's a shot of Jaws from James Bond, for no reason whatsoever...