Aston Martin Vantage | PH Used Buying Guide

Old school Aston charm and modern hardware made for a great new Vantage in 2018. It's now a great used one, too

By Tony Middlehurst / Sunday, December 19, 2021 / Loading comments

Key considerations

  • Available for £90,000
  • 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo, eight-speed auto or seven-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
  • 21st century chassis tech
  • Reliable and strong AMG drivetrain
  • Some dodgy panel gaps but no obvious quality issues
  • Potentially great ‘first Aston’ choice

Search for a used Aston Martin Vantage here

OVERVIEW

Aston Vantage or Porsche 911? The lucky blighters who can simply buy both don’t need to agonise about that decision, but it’s become a tricky one for those of us with finite resources. Considering how good 911s are these days that’s a testament to how far Aston Martin has come in recent times.

The new-model Vantage that was released in 2018 as Aston Martin’s entry-level model came immediately after AM’s best sales year for over a decade. More than 16,000 examples of the old Vantage were sold but the new one was quite literally something else. Its extruded bonded aluminium platform with steel panels was familiar to owners of the 2016-on DB11, even though in fact fewer than a third of the body/chassis components were the same.

The engine choices were sort of the same too, but in reversed chronological order. The DB11’s AE31 V12 launch motor was only made available to Vantage customers in the high-ticket (£765,000) screenless V12 Speedster version that arrived in spring 2020. That was rated at 700hp and 601lb ft. We don’t know if all 88 were sold. The engine will be seen in the 2022 return of the V12 Vantage, for rather less than three quarters of a million.

The default Vantage engine was the Mercedes-AMG 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 which didn’t become part of the DB11 offering until summer 2017. In the Vantage the 510hp and 505lb ft found its way to big 295/35 back tyres via a ZF 8-speed transaxle torque converter automatic gearbox and, in a first for a production Aston, an electronically controlled limited slip diff with torque vectoring.

An AMR derivative came out in 2019 with carbon ceramic brakes, various other carbon pieces, and a claimed weight reduction to 1,499kg. There were four ‘Hero’ AMRs, distinguished from each other by their paint schemes, at prices starting from £149,995, and one ‘Halo’ Vantage 59 model celebrating AM’s class victory in the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours at £164,995. A total of two hundred AMRs were slated for production.

The AMR was notable for being the first new Vantage with a manual gearbox, a 7-speed dogleg item from Graziano first seen in the old Vantage V12S. Impressively, this was the first manual to be bolted up to the AMG 4.0. It became available on regular Vantages from 2020, when a fabric-roofed Vantage Roadster appeared with a claimed weight of 1,628kg (versus the coupe’s claimed 1,530kg) and a slightly more obscure claim to fame, viz the fastest operating roof on any production convertible featuring an automatic gearbox. It took less than 7 seconds to deploy in either direction and worked at speeds of up to 31mph. The price of £126,950 was around £6,000 higher than the coupe.

A 100-off run of Vantage 007 Editions came out in late summer 2020. These featured a unique grill, Cumberland Grey paint, black leather interior, laser-etched gadget plaque referencing various bits of kit used by Bond in The Living Daylights, and a price tag of £161,000. There was more Bondy stuff in it, like seats with ‘f holes’ to remind us of that film’s iconic cello chase scene, and sun visors embroidered with ‘96.60’, which as we all know was the Russian police frequency he also used in that film.

Earlier this year (2021) an F1 Edition came out to mark Aston’s return to Formula 1 after a 61-year rest. With a big aero package, 535hp, peak torque over a longer duration, faster shift times, stiffer chassis and rear springs, bigger 21in wheels and feedback-enhanced steering it was trumpeted as a roadgoing version of the then-new F1 Safety Car which, some of you might remember, played a small role in the determination of the 2021 Drivers’ Championship. The F1 Edition was available as either a coupe or a convertible at prices starting from £142,000.

Some baulked at the idea of paying another £21k over the price of standard Vantage for a power boost of just 25hp, but if you were a glass half full type you would say the F1 Ed was actually good value because ticking the aerokit option box on a regular Vantage would have cost you £20k plus fitting on its own. Plus, the F1 Edition was available in a new and rather gorgeous team livery inspired shade of Racing Green alongside lower profile choices of black or white.

Today, one of the biggest weak points of Aston Martin (if you’re trying to put a buying guide together anyway, harrumph) is its website. We couldn’t persuade it to offer up much more than slowly refreshing pictures of the cars in its range. Maybe we were on the wrong browser, but there’s scant information on specs, and none at all on pricing. With rumours of its replacement by an all-electric coupe in 2025, and only a vague possibility of a plug-in hybrid option, the cars you are looking at here will probably be the last fully internally-combusted V8 Vantage you’ll be able to buy. You don’t need to be a genius to know what that will mean for values going forward, so the current sub-£90k entry cost of Vantage membership might end up being a bargain – as long as it’s a good car, of course. Is it though? Let’s have a gander.

SPECIFICATION | ASTON MARTIN VANTAGE (2018-on)

Engine: 3,982cc V8 32v twin turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): [email protected],000rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],000-5,000rpm
0-62mph (secs): 3.6
Top speed (mph): 195 (Roadster 190)
Weight (kg): 1,530
MPG: 27.3
CO2 (g/km): 244
Wheels (in): 20
Tyres: 255/40 (f), 295/35 (r)
On sale: 2018 – on
Price new (2018): £120,900
Price now: from £90,000


ENGINE & GEARBOX

If it’s pure theatre you want in an Aston you might well go for a V12-engined car, but if you’re a more pragmatic type the Vantage’s all-alloy 4.0 litre charge-cooled twin turbo AMG V8 will get the job done just as well.

The V8 brought its own brand of drama and was more vocal in the Vantage than in the DB11, but some thought it wasn’t quite as aurally thrilling in either Aston as it was in the 2015-on Mercedes-AMG GT. It’s early days in the life of the new Vantage, but three years in there’s little evidence of any major problems on the engine. The only thing we should mention is that for AMG GTs built between May 2018 and October 2019 there was a recall to sort out a potential leak from a turbo oil feed line. We assume this fix was applied to any affected Vantages.

The majestically smooth and ZF auto (paddleshift but not twin-clutch) was a fine partner for the V8 engine, and chalk and cheese against the famously clunky Sportshift gearbox from times best forgotten. It seamlessly transmitted torque to the rear wheels via a carbon fibre propshaft and an electronic differential.

The dogleg 7-speed manual that became available on 2020 Vantages didn’t really advance the car’s cause much, despite the AMSHIFT button above the gear lever which allowed you to keep the throttle properly mashed on upshifts and which gave automatic blips on downshifts. It didn’t have the sweetest action, and the closeness of the ratios made quite a few of the cogs feel superfluous given the amount of torque that was on tap – and that was with the torque having been capped on the manual from 505lb ft to 461lb ft too, or less in the first two gears if you didn’t have Track mode engaged. Even Aston’s chief engineer Matt Becker described the manual as ‘a bit Marmite’ but he reckoned that there was real reward to be had from it if you were prepared to put some effort in.

Some testers thought that the dogleg layout lent itself better to left-hand drive cars, and more than some of them agreed that the manual’s 70kg saving translated into an extra lightness of foot, even though the weight was slightly more biased towards the front end. It had a mechanical rather than an electronic diff, but the 0-62 time was slightly slower at 4.0sec.

The V8 fuel tank held 73 litres (16 gallons), enough for a theoretical range of 400 miles based on the WLTP ‘medium’ assessment of slightly under 25mpg or even more if you went by the old NEDC combined figure of 27.3mpg. In reality you’re unlikely to hit either figure even on a long cruise.

Official Aston Martin servicing is annually or every 10,000 miles. The price for the first and third services will be £695, or £725 for the year 2/20k service which includes a brake fluid change. The transaxle oil on the manuals should be changed at 40,000 miles at £220. In addition, Aston recommends changing the pollen filter at 20,000 miles and the air filter at 30,000 miles, at a cost of £90 and £390 (!) respectively.

A spark plug change at 70,000 miles should cost £280 but given the average mileage on cars like this that point will be a while off yet for most owners, by which time inflation will have had an effect on the price. If you have a V12 Speedster it’s highly improbable that it’ll ever see 70k, but if it does the currently advertised cost of a plug change is £1,150.

CHASSIS

The Vantage had a classic double-wishbone front, multi-link rear coil suspension with anti-roll bars and ‘Skyhook’ adaptive damping at both ends. Its speed-dependent steering rack was electrically assisted and there was torque vectoring via the e-diff. Standard tyres on the 10-spoke 20in alloys were Pirelli P Zeroes. Lightweight forged 20s or satin black 21s were options, as were carbon ceramic brakes, but the standard metal discs were more than powerful enough for most drivers and they didn’t suffer from the reduction in feel that ceramics often bring.

You’d never describe the coupe as a featherweight and the 2020-on Roadster was even heavier, but it nonetheless did a fine job of emulating the hardtop’s excellent manners on both road and track. The effects of the Roadster’s higher centre of gravity were mitigated by a retuning of the damper and spring rates, new rear subframe mounts and a mild steering rejig. Neither car felt particularly small on the road, especially if the name of the road you were on began with a B, but the decently speedy steering (2.4 turns) and the suppleness irrespective of which of the three driving modes – Sport, Sport+ and Track – you were in made for a friendly drive.

Sport, the softest setting, was recommended by Aston for wet weather. Sport+ was a particularly good fit with the Skyhook tech and if you fiddled with the stability control (which could be totally disabled) there was much tail-out circuit fun to be had in Track mode. Turn-in was precise and the fat rear tyres could handle a clumsy bootful of throttle on the way out. Weight is normally the enemy of a performance car but maybe the Aston’s extra weight compared to something like a 911 GTS – which was an estimated 10 percent lighter in ready-to-go status – helped to settle it when powering out of corners. The lighter AMR did feel more nimble but its ride quality also suffered more noticeably in the sportier modes.

BODYWORK

Aston owners on PH like to have chats about the best-looking Aston ever. You’ll never get a definitive conclusion on something like that, any more than you’d be able to pinpoint the best golfer, the best footballer, or whatever. There are too many variables. All anyone can do is make individual value judgements.

Most of us would say that the DB5 looked great. Of the models from the modern age, we’d probably say the same about the current Vantage. Some might prefer the delicacy of the old Vantage, but the more brutish current model resolves the styling restrictions of the front-engined format as well as anything else on the road while successfully generating the ‘predator’ ambience that AM wanted to hang on it.

Not everyone has had nice things to say about some of the handbuilt panel gaps in the areas between the doors and the front wings, but on the plus side the 70 per cent new body parts relative to the DB11 did give the Vantage 30 percent more rigidity than the 11. Its lower body panels were graphite by default, as were the fixed rollover hoops. You could however go for gloss black lowers and indeed uppers, including the roof, which could also be done in carbon fibre.

INTERIOR

The Vantage has a somewhat lower feeling about its driving position than was the case with the previous model, which works both for and against the driver in terms of connectedness and visibility respectively. Still, the cabin was nicely snug and roomy for two and the 350-litre boot was a sensible size too, so this Aston did genuinely uphold the marque’s long-held reputation for good quality long distance touring. A set of seven tailored leather bags could be bought from Q by Aston Martin for a trifling £4,674. Rather cheekily for a car with no glovebox and only small door bins, a ‘closed stowage armrest’ was a cost option.

The presence of more physical knobs than were to be found in the DB11 was a welcome advance for most. You didn’t have to have the squared-off steering wheel if it brought back bad memories of old Allegros. The standard infotainment came through an older generation Mercedes eight-inch LCD screen. It provided DAB radio, Bluetooth, sat nav and iPad/iPhone integration, but frustratingly there was no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality even if you offered to pay for it. Although there wasn’t much wrong with the standard audio, a 700watt Premium system could be specified, as could various duotone or monotone ‘environments’ (Accelerate, Create, Inspire) and the usual selection of alternative materials such as carbon fibre, Alcantara, dark chrome and semi-aniline leather.

Oddly, on today’s standard spec list AM deems it necessary to put ‘carpeted cabin’ and ‘floor mats’. More usefully it includes front and rear parking sensors, dual zone climate control, eight-way heated and embossed memory seats, auto steering column adjust, cruise control, auto parking (parallel and bay), blind spot detection and a 360-degree camera. Two Sports seat options were available, the Sports Plus seats coming with 12-way adjustment and AM ‘wings’ logos. Ventilated seats were on the options list too but only if you had the Sports Plus items.

PH VERDICT

One of the big UK car mags described the new for 2018 Vantage as a big step up into the 21st century, which was an entirely fair assessment. Just about every road tester commented positively on the everyday accessibility and magnitude of the performance, on its connected handling on public roads and its ability to put in a rewarding shift on any track.

It’s not been around for long enough to have built up a roster of common issues but the apparent absence of teething problems that normally affect any new car is a very hopeful indicator of good times ahead. The relationship with Mercedes-Benz seems to be maturing nicely. The big question for Aston now is whether they can build the same blend of marque appeal and trust that the big-name exotics have already established.

One marker of how brand-building is going is the saleability and value retention of special editions. Again, things are looking bright for the Vantage. Remember the Vantage 007 Edition we mentioned at the beginning, the ones that were £161k new? Here’s a delivery mileage example for £199,990. Even allowing for £13,000’s worth of extras (including the not at all tacky skis and roof rack) that’s a tidy markup if it finds a buyer. While we’re on the subject of extras, Vantage buyers typically spent around 10 per cent on top of the list price on options.

Back in the classifieds, do you fancy one of the F1 Editions which were also mentioned earlier at new prices starting from £142k? This 900-miler is going for a fiver short of £160k. As for the AMR, this Onyx Black car is less than a year old and for sale with Aston Bristol for £135k; however, for the full racecar vibe, there are also Hero Editions available. This 2019 car comes in Aston’s well-known Stirling Green, while this 2020 AMR combines black with Lime Green accents – both are around £130,000.

Specials are all well and good, but the long-term success of a firm like Aston Martin obviously depends on volume sales of ‘regular’ cars. For that, you need a car that doesn’t have to lean too hard on a prestigious badge or that doesn’t have you searching nervously for mega warranty cover even before you commit to buying a used one. A car that doesn’t just look great but that also comes up to the standards of reliability and performance expected by buyers in this demanding sector.

So far at least, the new Vantage seems to fit the bill. Visual appeal is a subjective thing but it’s as hard to imagine someone hating the new Vantage’s looks as it is to imagine someone hating its ‘baby supercar’ driving experience. It looks like a good ownership proposition and something that would justifiably generate interest in Astons among those who might not have considered the brand before. You might describe it as Aston’s equivalent of the Ferrari 355.

If you’re as impressed by the new Vantage as the road testers were, there’s plenty of choice in the pre-owned market with more than 70 cars available on PH Classifieds alone. At the affordable end of the market there’s this 14,000-mile 2018 coupe in red for £89,995. £100k-£105k is where you’ll find most Vantages, with £102k seeming to be the sweet spot. Here’s a damson 11,000 miler at £102,950 which we’ve picked for no better reason than the colour making a change from the grey/white/black norm.

If you must have a manual, there are a few to choose from on PH. Both are delivery mileage 2021 cars. The prices are £119k or £122k but if the assertion in one of the ads is correct, that AM won’t be building any more manuals after 2021, it’s hard to see values dropping much. Here’s the cheaper of the two in a very fetching shade of midnight blue. Like the manuals, Vantage Roadsters have only been around since 2020 so they too are relatively rare and expensive. The only one on PH at the time of writing was this 2021 car in magnetic silver with 3,000 miles and a £129,990 price tag.

The elephant in the Vantage room? The Mercedes-AMG GT S. Same engine, quicker than the Aston in a straight line, and pretty much the same sort of money on the used market, with £90k buying you a 2018 example. It’s not an Aston, of course – but it is a damn good car.


Search for a used Aston Martin Vantage here

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