Caught in the classifieds: 2006 Aston Martin Vantage V8
In the spirit of highlighting cars that are perceived as woefully unreliable, having featured an Alfa Romeo Brera last week, Iím now one-upping myself and highlighting an Aston Martin. Donít worry, I havenít lost my mind, I assure you thereís a method to my madness, but weíll get to that in a bit. For now, feast your eyes on this, a mint-condition V8 Vantage with 73,000 miles on the clock, selling for a shade under £27,000. I think this might be one of the most gorgeous cars weíve ever had in our ďCaught in the ClassifiedsĒ section.
Iím just going to go right ahead and say it: I donít think Iíve ever met a single person who dislikes the way the Vantage looks. Inspired by its older sibling, the original DB9, the V8 Vantage carries the same shape wrapped up in a smaller, more compact package. To an extent, I think that makes it even better-looking than the DB9 because it feels just right for UK roads.
If you think it looks good in pictures, you should see one in the flesh. Photos donít do this astonishing car any justice. Park it next to a Porsche 911, and no one will even notice the German-made sports car. The Aston is a real crowd-pleaser, so much so that many people will actively drop what theyíre doing and take out their phone to take a picture when youíre stopped at the lights or in a traffic jam.
Driving an Aston is a completely different experience to driving a Ferrari 458 or a Lamborghini Huracan. If you drive an Italian exotic, people give you snarky stares and, sometimes, even rude comments. You donít get that with the Aston. For some reason, most people seem to love it, but I donít think thatís solely because itís British.
I think the Aston has such an elegant and timeless design people canít help but stare in awe at how incredibly sculpted it is. Itís one of those cars, you know? Itís a modern-day version of the DB5 or the E-Type. These cars are getting on for being 15 years old, but Iíd believe you if you told me it was a 2020 model vehicle.
As much as it pains me to say it, I think the inside of the Vantage doesnít live up to its exterior. Donít get me wrong, itís still a pleasant place to spend time in, but itís not at the same level as a similarly-aged 911 or Audi R8. The switchgear feels dated and old, the build quality isnít befitting to such a high-end exotic (although you could argue itís a relatively affordable sports car), and some of the plastics feel extremely out of place.
With that out of the way, there are still quite a few things I like which more than make up for its small foibles. The seating position, for instance, is excellent. The steering wheel is great too. It feels dated but the shape is perfect and it feels infinitely adjustable. The seats are comfy but they have a decent amount of lateral bolstering. The gauge cluster looks cool, especially with the rev counter going the opposite way of the speedo. All these little things add up to make a car thatís much better than the sum of its parts would have you believe.
Iíd happily spend thousands of miles in one, because as far as practicality and comfort are concerned, this is much better and more manageable than an Audi R8. The cabin feels roomy, thereís a shelf behind the seats serving as storage, headroom is excellent, and wind noise is surprisingly well-suppressed.
Engine and Performance
The V8 Vantage uses a naturally-aspirated 4.3-litre 32-valve V8, producing 380 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque. It sends its power to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual. The V8 Vantage came under heavy fire from a lot of journalists for not being quick enough, and while Iíd agree itís not as spritely as some of its competitors, it still feels plenty fast to me.
Take a look at these figures: 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 175 mph. If you still want to argue thatís not considered quick enough, even by todayís standards, I have to assume you own a 911 Turbo S or a GT3 RS, because thatís the only explanation. For most people, a sub-5-second run to 60 mph is quick, even if you might not call it blisteringly fast.
Where the Vantage excels at is in the corners. The engine is front mid-mounted, meaning itís positioned behind the front axle for better weight distribution. Couple that with the fact that it uses a transaxle at the rear, and you get a nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution (itís actually 49/51).
Itís still very obviously a heavy GT car, weighing in at 1,630 kilograms, but it feels sporty and fun when you start to push on a bit. Itíll never be a 911 competitor in that regard, but I canít begin to describe how infinitely more special it feels compared to something like a run-of-the-mill 911 Carrera.
Now, letís talk about the elephant in the room: reliability. I know you were expecting a bombshell, but the truth of the matter is... there isnít one. The V8 Vantage is one of the most reliable Astons to own, especially if itís been well taken care of. Keeping up with regular maintenance should get you well beyond 100,000 miles in one of these, and apart from the obvious consumables in the suspension and the engine compartment, you shouldnít expect a ton of issues.
Model: Aston Martin Vantage
Trim: V8 Vantage
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is one of the most exciting-looking sports cars you can buy on the second-hand market right now. If youíre not afraid of being a little different and not going down the 911 route, there really is no other alternative. The Audi R8 isnít as practical, cars like the 458 cost well over twice as much, and the Audi TT RS or the BMW M2 are nowhere near as exotic or special.
Rating: 9 out of 10