Blog: Three Days In With The V8 Vantage
By Seyth Miersma
November 03, 2011
Driving the Vantage for the better part of the work week, I’ve found that my lists of “likes” and “dislikes” is far different that it would have been after just one day. Like any new car experience, some of the things that strike you as strange when you first climb behind the wheel start to fade after a bit, and new loves/peeves crop up to fill your consciousness. Most of these, good and bad, are little things that are hard to notice until you’ve been in a car for a few days; I’ll deal with the big picture stuff in more detail later.
1. Steering wheel size, and steering feedback levels
I initially thought that the Vantage’s wheel was too large and too thin-rimmed for something this sporting. After settling in, though I’ve come to appreciate the way the slightly outsized wheel is kind of right where I need it to be at any given second—I never find my hand out of place.
The overall feedback levels of the steering are really high, but there’s just enough filtration to keep me from going nuts from overstimulation. Even with our bad roads, I haven’t yet wished for a more docile experience.
2. Touch points
Everything in the cabin is made of leather or metal (any plastic that exists is exceedingly well disguised, if it is there at all). Better still, the metal parts feel both heavy and smooth. There’s a small lid that covers a 12v port in the center console; I find myself opening and closing it at traffic lights, just to hear the satisfying metal-on-metal sound of it shutting. Also, the carpets throughout the car are amazing.
3. Traction control programming
Aston has seemingly set the threshold for traction control intervention at a really high level. I’ve never turned the system off, and have yet to feel it engage, even under some aggressive driving conditions.
Most people don’t stare at the Vantage when you drive by. Perhaps, if the same shape were in a more supercar-lurid color they would, but I think this Aston is a kind of “undercover stunning.” Sure, you’ll catch plenty of eyes turning your way while driving, but not in the open-mouthed gawking way that accompanies Lamborghini, Ferrari, even Audi R8 diving. I get a sense that this is what AM owners are into: owning something is very special but not massively flashy.
1. Squeaking brakes
Not carbon-ceramic brakes, either, yet they do a lot of squeaking at low speeds and when they’re still cold. This is, apparently, a Vantage issue that can crop up with a lack of hard use. It’s unseemly from this car; guess I’ll have to do some hard stopping on the way home.
2. Media interface
I accept that, as small volume producers of exotic sports cars, Aston Martin doesn’t have the same resources to make new, bleeding-edge tech stuff for each new model year. That’s fine. But the interface for navigation/audio/media/phone is infuriating here—both hard to figure out and hard to use while underway when you have figured it out.
3. Lateral visibility
Okay, this one is definitely a complaint for the Aston Martin daily driver only, but the side view out of the Vantage is pretty compromised. As a tall guy, I find myself having to duck and then look in lots of different kinds of traffic situations. Not ideal. Of course, when out in the car’s natural habitat of winding, empty roads, the lateral view isn’t as critical either (here you’re more concerned with tears of joy blocking your vision entirely).