It’s a been a jolly good month for the British maker of “shaken, not stirred” supercars. Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll pumped $239 million dollars into the company earlier this year after the company had spent most of last year being publicly traded, it’s future uncertain. Read all about that deal, and details, here.
Other good news for the brand came this week with the unveiling of the much-awaited 2021 Vantage Roadster in advance of the Geneva Auto Show next month. The Roadster’s flop top can be lowered in a mere 6.7 seconds while stopped, or 6.8 seconds up to 31 M.P.H., making it the fastest opening-and-closing top in the world. Its twin-turbocharged V8, 503 horsepower engine, an upscale interior, and seven-speed optional manual transmission doesn’t hurt it a bit, either.
Me? I was in need of a test Aston Martin in Los Angeles and wasn't picky, as I told the nice man who emailed me back: “I do have a magnetic silver Vantage Coupe available if you think that’d work.”
I assured him that it would indeed work.
Soon I was sitting on the 405 in Los Angeles, stuck in traffic like everybody else. But did I mind? Not a bit. Unlike some supercars which excel only on the track and are a clunk-fest at slow speeds, especially with a standard shift (mine was automatic) the Vantage coupe motivates sweetly and smoothly at 10-15 miles per hour for however long the arteries are clogged. The only thing I noticed quickly was that the brakes (Brembo, of course) are as “tight as Dick's hatband” and one must tread gently, gently, gently in stop-and-go traffic so as not to jerk, jerk, jerk.
As soon as we were out in the open, though, that's the last anyone else saw of me for a bit. The 2020 Vantage's looks are as sharp and cut like a bodybuilder’s abs (and there were plenty of those in Los Angeles) yet it doesn’t immediately scream its identity to the untrained eye. This lets you weave in and out of traffic with the effortlessness of a ballerina, but minus the gawking you get in some ultra-high-end cars. It’s low to the ground, with generous hips, a sharply angled rear windshield and twin exhausts with large tailpipe finishers.
It’s got a carved, bulging hood and extra-large headlights. In short, it's gorgeous, an ultra-luxurious sportster offering sublime comfort via a cabin hand-trimmed in beautiful, natural materials, primarily wood and leather. Even the starter button is made from clear glass.
Is it fast? Oh, yes. A 503 horsepower, 4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V-8 engine coupled with 8-speed auto transmission, electronic rear differential and dynamic torque vectoring add up to either a cannon blast, if you want and need, or that delicious low, rumbly, growling grizzly bear thing on runs to the grocery store or the mall. Your engine and suspension can be adjusted to a choice of Sport, Sport Plus and Track, each of which will affect the throttle response, traction control and chassis damping.
Most of the time, as I was on either freeways, twisty roads or local thoroughfares, I kept it to a reasonable speed, in “Sport” and that was enough for me. Public roads, you know. Also, gas was close to $5 a gallon and the Vantage takes Premium, so every time you gas up, it's like taking someone to a nice restaurant, with drinks. Cough up, cowboy.
Inside, the two-tone seats are ultra-contoured and firm with extra support for both your thighs, which lends itself to long-distance trips unlike some sporty wheels whose seats cause aches after 60 minute drives. To get in and out practically requires a stick of butter even if you're not a big person. You start off sort of dumping yourself in as someone would dump a bucket of water, get situated and regard the majesty surrounding you. How many ways are there to say “This smells good?” Not enough. With the windows down you can get a whiff of that luxury leather from a few inches away and it draws you in like Mom's chicken soup.
The steering wheel’s fat and small-ish, the better to negotiate tight turns. You can order a variety of wood finishes or carbon fiber. Stitched leather surfaces are thick, sturdy and pleasing to the eyes and nose. Climate controls, pedal pads, and gearshift are finished in satin aluminum. The audio system can be designed to your specs.
If Aston Martin isn’t as much a household name as some other name badges (One person said “It’s an Ashton-Martin?”) it’s that much more of a rare jewel, and the Vantage just about as exclusive and pleasurable as it gets.
Price, with options: $172,169