Road test: Aston Martin V8 Vantage S
Aston Martin has made a harder version of its Porsche 911 rival – the V8 Vantage S. Is it any good?
What is it?
Sitting between the standard V8 Vantage and the range topping V12 Vantage, the V8 Vantage S takes a more sporty approach to Aston's baby coupe. It offers real alternative to traditional rivals like the Porsche 911, Audi R8, Nissan GT-R and Jaguar XKR-S.
Aston's engineers have worked on a number of areas to make the car deserve the S badge. The steering is sharper, as is the throttle response, and the gear changes – the S can only be ordered with a seven-speed "Sportshift" 'box as standard. The Vantage S also features an improved ride thanks to new suspension, and it's distinguishable from the lesser V8 Vantage by a deeper front splitter and a neat boot spoiler.
What's under the bonnet?
The 4.7-litre V8 now has 430bhp and provides enough power to give the Vantage the performance the looks promise; 0-60mph takes just 4.3 seconds and it'll keep accelerating onto a top speed of 189mph.
What's the kit like?
Building on the strong standard kit level from the Vantage, the S adds Garmin sat nav, Bluetooth and cruise control as standard. The exterior gets additional carbon fibre touches and a sports exhaust system to complete the sporty package. The V8 Vantage S Coupe starts at £102,500 and £110,700 for the Roadster.
For the £102,500 price tag there's a whole wealth of rival machinery. These could be the Maserati MC Stradale, Audi R8, Porsche Turbo, Nissan GT-R Track Pack and the Jaguar XKR-S.
Is it any good?
Aston Martin haven't just glued on a badge here – you can really feel the difference over the standard V8 Vantage. The engineers' work has been successful as the car is now much sharper and agile, and the S represents a more focused version of the V8 Vantage. But that doesn't mean it can't cruise along like a typical Aston Martin grand tourer.
The Autoblog verdict
Aston Martin paddle-shift gearboxes have a bit of a bad reputation in the past, but the Vantage S's isn't that bad. In "Drive" it's not that good, but attack the road in anger and use the paddles and it's pretty impressive. The 4.7-litre V8 sounds incredible and although the car feels heavy, it can still be hustled along sharply. The luxurious interior is another plus-point, and so are the looks – the Vantage S is stunningly pretty.