The world’s car makers seem to have shifted into park and are simply biding time making dreary eco boxes until they are all bought out by Uber or GRAB.
There’s a vastness of Suzuki Altos, Honda Brios, and Nissan Jukes, which I all hate very much. Nobody is ever going to grow up dreaming of buying one someday, unless they come from a lineage of Uber drivers. I argue that these shit boxes are just some cars, on which Japanese manufacturers plan to make a couple of bucks on. I fear, however, I may be wrong, because I’ve come to realize that carmakers are swimming against a tide that will eventually consume them, for we seem to be heading towards an era of mobile pods and autonomous driving machines.
There have always been people, since God spoke to Moses on the mountain, who say, “Cars aren’t my thing”. Today, however, it’s not just the bejewelled old matriarch waiting for her Toyota Alphard to fetch her from Sunday mass. It’s pretty much everyone, especially if they are under 20. It’s the new vaping and juul generation who see a cigarette as no less toxic than a gram of cocaine — the same ones who think that gasoline should be obsolete because the carbon footprint is killing trees, which inadvertently affects their lungs. They know this because their Apple Watch tells them.
Over the holidays, I sat down at a party and was immediately told by everyone at the table that they do not know anything about cars — as if to imply that they wouldn’t enjoy such a topic for discussion. Fair enough. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I hate talking about cars for casual conversation. It’s not good in my line of business to reveal how little I know about them. There are in fact, very few people that I enjoy speaking to about automobiles.
I took no offence at all, but this got me thinking, because I know a urologist, and I’ve never heard anyone say to him: “We don’t wish to talk about gonorrhea”. This has led me to believe that today, people are more interested in penile discharge than they are in a new Aston Martin. That would’ve been completely true had they not seen me hop in the all-new Vantage. In another color, I admit they might have missed me — but not in this one.
For the non-conformist.
Everyone flocked towards the car. The paint is called Kermit Green, and it is greener than your mind that thought of anal sex just a few seconds ago. It has been more than a decade coming, and it is only right that they have redone the Vantage completely from the ground up. The old Vantage was a shrunken version of the bigger DB model of that era, but this one looks completely different.
As a matter of fact, if this car were released without any badges, I would bet my nephew’s testicles that you’d think it’s a new Mazda — an RX-9 perhaps. Make no mistake about it, the car looks exquisite, especially from the rear. It is a lot more beautiful in person, too. It may not have the timeless elegance of the older one, but it is a lot more aggressive — a lot hornier. It’s wet and it screams motorsport.
The interior is stunning as well. In this day and age where everyone is trying to get rid of buttons, Aston Martin has decided not to conform with this idea. There’s a buffet of buttons scattered in the cabin, half of which, I’ve no clue what they do. There’s even a photo button, so you don’t have to press the accelerator and brake pedal at the same time to take a selfie. Surely, it has an infotainment screen, and they’ve borrowed it from the Mercedes-Benz parts bin. This means that you have all the German engineering you need matched with British craftsmanship. I mean, look at that stitching.
This truce between the United Kingdom and Germany seems to be a match made in heaven — until you press the start button. The bespoke engine from Gaydon is gone and in exchange they’ve put a power unit from Mercedes-AMG. That would’ve been fine, but the aural ferocity of the AMG GT’s engine seems to have been silenced. For something that looks as loud as Elton John walking down the street, it also sounds like the music icon is getting a blowjob — from a girl. You know that the grunt is there, but it seems to be biting hard on its fist trying not to enjoy it. C’mon, Aston! Let it rip.
A statement of intent.
That aside, I like everything about it. The driving position is perfect. The car is docile in traffic and it makes for quite a relaxing cruiser, actually. I never knew how quickly the old Vantage could sprint to 100 clicks simply because by the time I got up to 40 km/h, the transmission would fail and the car would grind to a halt. The new 8-speed ZF transmission has fixed that and I can keep launching the car to 100 km/h in just 3.6 seconds. The car is wider than it looks, so there are a couple of blind spots. Thankfully, there’s a 360 degree top view camera that can help you squeeze through the tight spaces. Mercedes-Benz has worked their magic.
The unorthodox square-jawed steering wheel is quite lovely to hold. There are all sorts of buttons on the wheel too, but none more important than the one labelled, ’S’. Push that twice, and it engages ‘Track’ mode. The whole dynamic of the car changes. All of a sudden, it’s pretty pissed off. The tachometer turns red, more exhaust noise seeps into the cabin, and the throttle is wired out of its mind. The brilliance here is that they’ve left the suspension settings completely sovereign from the drivetrain. So you can have everything set to maximum without having to schedule a chiropractor appointment the following day.
Beautiful won’t be tamed.
Every single time I’d bury my right foot, all of my passengers would freak out. It’s odd, because I’m not getting the same sensation. I’m not shitting my pants as I do when I drive a Nissan GT-R, and expectedly so. However, everyone I took for a spin in the Vantage has ridden the GT-R with me, and they all say that this car feels just as rapid. When I look at the rate at which it builds speed, I can understand why. The gears are much longer, so there’s a lot more foreplay with a bed of torque before it rips their ass holes into pieces. By the time they start to lose their breath, there’s an extra 1,000 rpm left before I slam another gear home to repeat the cycle. Someone actually said that the acceleration is orgasmic, so if you wanna get laid — this is your car.
I am most impressed with how the Vantage connects a lot more with the driver than the DB11 does. Although I will always lean towards the bigger Aston, there is no denying that this new Vantage is a sensational supercar. Previously, those who bought a Vantage were seen as people who couldn’t afford a proper DB. Particularly because they looked alike inside and out, and pretty much because the driving experience wasn’t so far from each other. Well, it is now. The DB11 is a wafty super GT that stays closest to the core of Aston Martin. I hopped out of that thing feeling like Pierce Brosnan, up until I saw the reflection of an Asian Yeti.
A born predator.
The Vantage is the real ‘dialled up to 11’, as far as driving goes. This one feels closer to the brand’s motorsport pedigree. It’s light on its feet, the steering feel is a lot more talkative, and it handles like a dream. It takes corners flat, up until its rear starts to give way, but even then, the car is so predictable and well-balanced — correcting it comes naturally. Driving-wise, it gives the Porsche 911 a good run for its money. It’s not better, but it’s close. Where it may fall short of a 911’s precision driving dynamics, it more than makes up for in pure swagger. I parked it next to a 991 Carrera S in Molito, and I swear to God, I’ve never seen a Porsche morph into a Toyota Altis.
The marque’s greatest triumph is how they’ve reinvented the Vantage in the sense that it is no longer an entry-level offering, but rather the choice for those who want a focused Aston Martin that they can take to the track that is not limited to the hills while being chased by a hot villain. I struggled to stop driving this car. If I had it my way, I would have returned it with a thousand kilometers more — except Marc Tagle would have killed me. In closing, I thought I’d share that I was repeatedly asked by our followers the same question, “If you keep saying that the Vantage isn’t a James Bond-esque GT, but rather a dialled in supercar, why pick an Aston Martin?” The answer: Because now, you can.
The archetypal hunter.