The Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing

The 2018 Aston Martin Vantage is here and it’s angry

2005 was a busy year for the world. YouTube was launched, The Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles tied the knot, the Xbox 360 gaming console was released and Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith was number 1 at the box office, but more importantly the Aston Martin Vantage was unveiled.

While Aston Martin had previously used the Vantage name to define performance variants of other models, this launch gave the name a standalone vehicle to call all its own. The nimble sports car also gave the marque an edgier side to a brand famous for luxurious grand tourers.

13 years, another couple of royal weddings and a few more Star Wars movies later and that original Vantage has had its time. But it gets an honorable retirement. While the world has moved on, fashion and tastes and technology has evolved (mostly), that first Vantage looks as stunning as the day a silk sheet was undraped off it. Like all Astons though, it gets a firm spot in the canon of British motoring history and will continue to be revered by future generations of people who have good taste in automobiles. For now though, the spotlight belongs on its upstart son.

At the very befitting Aston Martin Auckland showroom we got to see the New Zealand unveiling of the all new 2018 Aston Martin. A moment I wonder if I will be referencing in another article in another 13 years. It’s a moment I will remember anyway. 

If the 2005 Vantage added an edge to the marque, the 2018 Vantage takes that edge and injects it with enough attitude to make a tiger whimper in shame. There is actually a point to that strange analogy too. In the Aston Martin Vantage launch collateral, much is made of the Vantage’s aggressive hunter inspired styling – with the global website even headlining it as the archetypal hunter before going on to invite you to discover a born predator. And while marketing speak tends to take a lot of liberties with certain things, this is actually spot on. It is exactly like the design team set out on capturing inspiration from the animal kingdom’s most fierce hunters, welded those elements together out of pure aggression and then wrapped it all around a bonded aluminum chassis and a 503bhp 4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, a rear mid mounted ZF 8 speed automatic transmission and electronic differential.

The end result of all that crafted aggression, horsepower and technology is ironically, something quite beautiful, with assertive features like muscular flanks and a prowling low pitched bonnet merging with the finesse of masterfully sculptured lines. But there is also function to all of that form.

Incredible aerodynamic performance is achieved through some very clever design. Prominent new side gills, which have been integrated into the body surface, bleed air pressure out from the front wheel arches, that combined with the pronounced upswept rear deck lid means that the Vantage generates a significant level of downforce. A front splitter also directs airflow underneath the car, where a system of fences channels cooling air where it is needed, and also ensures the rear diffuser is fed with clean airflow. The design of the diffuser creates an area of low pressure air, while simultaneously preventing turbulence generated by the rear wheels from disrupting the flow of air exiting centrally from beneath the rear of the car.

Predatory inspiration continues inside, with a high waisted cockpit with sharp, focused lines and tactile controls and a lower driving position. Which is exactly what I am looking forward to being in when we get to test drive the new Vantage later in a couple of months. For now, I’ll just enjoy its breathtaking form while trying to shake the feeling that I’m also being watched.