Vantage goes out with a bang after 13 years, as new AMR performance sub-brand arrives
When one door closes, another door opens – and nothing could be closer to the truth as Aston Martin says goodbye to its faithful Vantage. After a venerable 13-year run, the iconic model is going out on top with the launch of this AMR version – which also heralds the arrival of the brand-new AMR performance sub-brand. The fact that the Vantage came first in the GTE Pro class victory at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours is the icing on the celebration cake.
The limited-run AMR label will eventually feature across the entire Aston Martin model range, but in this first instance it is to be worn by 300 Vantage AMR Coupe and Roadster models. Of these, 100 will be near-600bhp V12s; the other 200 will use V8s. We drive the latter here, in Coupe form.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage AMR
Engine: 4.8-litre, V8, petrol
Torque: 361lb ft
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 190mph
Fuel economy: 20.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 321g/km
While it offers no weight saving or chassis retuning, the car’s £3000 premium buys a choice of bespoke paint schemes with contrasting body stripes, enamel Union Flag badges, five-spoke wheels and fresh cabin trim. Our Stirling Green model also sports hi-vis brake calipers. It’s all highly individual, but even if the lime green highlights seen here inside and out aren’t your thing, there’ll be something that is.
And underneath is all is the usual pretty yet muscular Vantage shape, and redesigned switchgear that looks better than in early cars. Other cabin attributes in this last-of-the-line Vantage include a much-improved infotainment system and top-notch seating position. The more supportive, fixed-back bucket seats are a worthwhile optional extra.
Drivers are reminded of the model’s ‘traditional sports car’ position in the Aston range from the moment they start it up. It’s all quite physical, from pressing the key into its slot and working the clutch, gearshift and steering, to operating the surprisingly muscle-testing fly-off handbrake.
The 4.7-litre naturally aspirated V8 produces 430bhp at 7300rpm, and propels the 1610kg Coupe to 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and on to 190mph. And once the speed picks up, the car’s slightly heavy-feeling low-speed character and fidgety ride give way to a mellow-feeling drive. The passive dampers give just enough wheel travel and body movement to help generate a serene, sucked-down flow. The hydraulic steering also hits its sweet spot, giving great front-end feedback and feel.
Those 13 years of honing and development mean the chassis delivers a stupendous mix of ride, handling and front/rear balance. The sophisticated damping imperiously swats away mid-corner bumps. It’s all in stark contrast to the car’s heavier, slow-speed character.
The V8 Vantage has always been the sweeter choice when it comes to its unshowy ability to clip along any road. Looking for spectacular speed on the straights? Then the V12 is the better option – but the eight-cylinder teamed with this six-speed manual gearbox is evocative enough and doesn’t sound intrusive.
We’re certain that, on future models, the AMR label will develop beyond lurid paintwork to more substantive advance, but this latest and last Vantage is a fitting way to launch the performance sub-brand. Co-operate with its driving demands, and the rewards are rich.