Faster, lighter, more engaging limited edition Aston Martins to farewell long running Vantage ahead of replacement model with AMG-sourced V8.
IT CAN be hard to say goodbye. Clearly so for Aston Martin, which is launching a series of limited editions of the long-serving Vantage before its replacement by an all-new car next year, with a new seven-speed manual gearbox for the V12 Vantage S and a motorsport-inspired GT8 with a stratospheric price-tag.
Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer has said he wants to offer manual gearboxes whenever possible, and the V12 Vantage S seems to be the first beneficiary of his new policy. The V12 was sold with a manual before the S version arrived three years ago, but the gearbox is a new seven-speed unit complete with a motorsport style dog-leg change that puts first gear on its own to the left. It will also feature rev-matching, blipping the throttle to smooth out down changes and to make owners feel appropriately heroic.
The GT8 is more interesting, with the extensive use of carbon fibre dropping some broad hints about Aston’s future weight-saving strategy. Production will be limited to just 150 cars, and buyers will have to dig deep for the privilege of owning one. We’ve only got UK pricing at the moment, with Aston charging £165,000 in the UK – that’s a 70 percent supplement over a standard V8 Vantage S. So expect Australian pricing to be something north of $400,000.
It’s more than just a badge and a body kit, though – with the GT8 getting wider bodywork and stretched front and rear tracks plus carbon fibre bumpers, front wings, splitter and diffuser. The vast rear wing in the official images is an optional extra, but also made from carbon. Other lightweight options include a carbon roof, forged wheels, polycarbonate side and rear windows and a titanium exhaust, while carbon door trims and race seats come as standard. With every gram-shaving option selected, Aston claims that the GT8 is 1510kg, 100kg less than the standard car.
Chassis modifications for the GT8 include firmer springs and dampers and the promise that this is the most dynamically focused version of the Vantage so far: “Think GT3 and a bit” said a company insider. Despite the diet, standard equipment still includes climate, an audio system and Aston’s revised infotainment system which, we’re promised, is a huge improvement over its mostly dreadful predecessor.
The surprise is that Aston seems to have done all its work on just one side of the power-to-weight ratio, with the GT8 having a barely modified version of the standard Vantage’s V8 engine. The company claims a 7kW power increase to 328kW, with the weight saving having cut the claimed 0-100km/h time to 4.4 seconds – down from 4.8 seconds for the Vantage S. Both a six-speed manual and seven-speed automated shift version will be available.
The colour scheme you see here is bright enough to mean potential owners will likely put on their sunnies before opening the garage door, but some more modest colour combinations are available including grey and blue, and white and green. The first cars will be delivered in the last quarter of this year.
All these specials are proof that the Vantage’s days are numbered; we know that it is being replaced next year by a new car that will be powered by the 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that Aston is buying from AMG. With the greatest of respect to these two, that’s the one that we’re really looking forward to seeing.