2025 Aston Martin Vantage First Drive Review: A Wonderful Way to Blow $200K

Even if it isn’t quite the track star Aston wants it to be, the new Vantage is the stuff of dreams.

byChris Tsui|
Aston Martin
Aston Martin.
Share

0

If Aston Martin were barred from selling cars tomorrow, one might imagine it would try to get into the running shoe business instead. The once quite-relaxed luxury automaker is now going all in on Sport and nowhere does this feel more apparent than in the way it's approached the 2025 Aston Martin Vantage.

The official tagline for this car is "engineered for real drivers." In the pre-drive technical presentation, there was a video message from Fernando Alonso and a literal chart in which the Aston Martin logo was positioned very close to those of Ferrari and Lamborghini but very far from those of Bentley and Rolls-Royce. I mean, the fuckin' Wi-Fi password for the whole event was "realdrivers". The Vantage is a Real Sports Car now and Aston really wants us to know it.

Aston Martin

In the interest of cutting to the chase, the new Vantage really has made great strides in the handling department. Of course, its biggest strides were already made when the current body style Vantage first debuted back in 2018, but this new, heavily revised version takes the fight to the likes of Porsche even further and even harder. Has it finally dethroned the mighty 911 as the quintessential $200K sports car that feels just as at home on the autobahn as it does at the autódromo? Not exactly, but there's still a whole lot to like here.

The Basics

Building cars that are genuinely good to drive may be a relatively new Aston Martin development, but one thing the British marque is no stranger to is building cars that are gorgeous to behold. You know how they say your personal music tastes peak in your early teens? In my mind, the single most beautiful car ever made is and forever will be the 2005 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, but that might just be down to the fact that I happened to be 13 when it came out.

This new Vantage is aesthetically a worthy successor. Sure, the grille might be cartoonishly big now but pretty much every other aspect of its design is absolutely stunning. New headlights hark back to the One-77 while fenders, beltlines, creases, and curves are all seemingly perfectly placed to tickle the part of your brain that controls attraction. I distinctly remember walking back to the bronze-wheeled, Aluminite Silver example I was entrusted with after an impromptu baño break and catching myself simply... staring at that rear three-quarter view. I felt my chest do that thing where my lungs and heart seem to momentarily trip over themselves—everything else fell away and went quiet, and I no longer cared about any other automobile.

It's the Vantage. It was always the Vantage. It was always her.

Aston Martin

Just like with the DB12, Aston has massively stepped its game up inside. And, thank the heavens, it isn't a touch-control techfest in there. There are actual buttons controlling the exhaust, dampers, auto start-stop, climate, and parking sensors, and Aston has even blessed us with scrollable wheels for volume and temperature adjustment. Software in the 10.25-inch touchscreen was developed in-house and, just from a cursory poke around, feels like it could've come from a much bigger automaker—that Stroll money is no joke.

The screens themselves feel anything but low-rent and are surrounded by a cabin that feels thoroughly expensive. Bowers & Wilkins speaker grilles look like little pieces of modern art and house equipment that sounds thoroughly great. Matte-finish carbon, clinky cold alloys, and green-finish leather create a lovely feel of sporting luxury while seats—whether it's the softer, base sport seats or optional carbon buckets—are unobtrusively comfortable and supportive.

Driving Experience

It'd be silly to expect the two-seat, roadgoing Vantage to have much in common with the Aston Martin that Alonso drives on Sundays, but one thing they do have in common is an engine borrowed from Mercedes-AMG. In the Vantage, it's a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 making 656 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque—79 hp more than AMG's own GT 63 which uses this same motor and up 128 horses over the previous V8 Vantage. Aston says it's achieved this by modifying the cam profiles, optimizing compression ratios, and fitting bigger turbos. What's more, whereas that Mercedes is all-wheel-drive, the Vantage remains purely rear-wheel-drive. Engineered for "real drivers" indeed.

Zero to 60 mph takes 3.4 seconds and it'll hit a top speed of 202, and it all happens through an eight-speed ZF automatic with a shorter final drive and revised shift calibration. Aston says it's deliberately tuned the transmission so that gear changes aren't chasing outright immediacy or efficiency but actually come with a slight gap in the name of drama and emotion. And watching it do its thing down Circuito Monteblanco's half-mile back straight, slamming the right paddle in between runs to the redline is indeed quite dramatic. Cogs are swapped deliberately with a noticeable jolt, as if the paddles behind the steering wheel actually control a tiny race car driver hiding underneath the dash, manhandling an even tinier manual transmission.

When it comes to sheer straight-line pace, the Vantage yields little room for complaints. In an age where it feels like a luxury car making 500 horses without blinking comes out every other day, we've become desensitized to big numbers. In the flesh, you forget how formidable 656 hp untethered on a racetrack can feel. This is more power than any—any—Porsche 911 available at the moment and, in the context of RWD-only fare, knocks on the door of the 670-hp Z06 Corvette. The Aston Martin Vantage minimizes the space between corners with bombastic, borderline-frightening aplomb and demands respect.

Aston Martin

Stomping on the optional carbon ceramic brakes entering Turn 1 returns consistently mighty stopping power. Guide it towards the apex and the Vantage tucks in with appropriate immediacy and precision—Aston is claiming 12% less understeer than before but they could've told me 13% and I would've believed 'em. Aston also claims a perfect 50:50 weight distribution and driven reasonably, the Vantage indeed flows through chicanes with a pleasant, crisp sense of balance. Push it hard and you're quickly reminded that this is, at the end of the day, a rear-wheel-drive car. Keep the nine-stage traction control in one of its more lenient stages and the Vantage will let you slide and play, but it isn't the most forgiving or intuitive drifter out there. Spins come fast and furious if you're not careful, traction control can sometimes snap it back into line less-than-fluidly, and a relatively numb steering rack doesn't help.

Don't get me wrong, inputs are met with accurate and quick lateral movements, but the Vantage's electronic power steering does indeed feel like electronic power steering and not in the surprisingly tactile Toyobaru-Miata-Porsche way. Mid-slide, I found myself relying on my eyes and butt to judge what the car was doing underneath me since my hands were getting nothing. Muted steering feedback would be appropriate if not appreciated in a long-legged, DB-badged GT car but in The Real Vantage Sports Car made for "Real Drivers™?" This ain't it.

That nine-stage traction system, by the way, is controlled by the same hefty, knurled knob you select drive modes with. You swap between functions with a little button on the dash that's a little hard to find at speed. While we're on the subject of performance-driving UX quibbles, the digital gauges don't display the gear or tach prominently enough to be very useful on-track, although Aston says it's working on rectifying that via an over-the-air update. Oh, and the die-cast aluminum shift paddles feel a bit gaming wheel-esque to use, lacking the chunky, metallic kerplunk you might expect from the paddles of a real, six-figure sports car.

Capable as it is, the Vantage doesn’t feel wholly at home on a track; that’s still not its natural habitat despite the chassis improvements. Out on the switchback roads outside Seville, though, it finally started to feel like the driver’s car Aston wants it to be. Michelin Pilot Sport S 5s tuned specifically for this car along with that stiffened, immensely balanced chassis make chewing through corners at spirited speeds a thrillingly thoughtless exercise. It feels tight, it feels agile; and a throaty, gravelly, gurgly AMG V8 that responds with near-telepathic response to your right foot (turbo technology really has come a long way, you guys) is just the sort of thing that can turn a bad day into a great one.

Aston Martin

Adaptive Bilstein dampers shared with DB12 but retuned here are quite comfy left in the default Sport mode, but the Vantage is *loud* not just in its exhaust but also in terms of wind and road noise. A road trip Aston Martin, this is not. And therein lies the contradiction I’m still wrestling with. The modern Vantage has always been a sports car via Aston—that is, more of a spicy GT that makes up for performance gaps with its luxurious image and a hint of an older soul. Here, Aston has sharpened and polished it to a point where it’s no longer what it was. But nor is it exactly what it could be on either the road or the admittedly unlikely track day. Dramatic improvements in some areas have magnified the remaining issues in others.

The Early Verdict

Given how hard it's hitting the whole "real drivers" thing, Aston is writing big checks the Vantage can't yet fully cash. There is a good track car hidden here somewhere—it certainly has the chassis and engine for it—but its inputs, particularly the steering, leave room for improvement. Perhaps Aston is saving that stuff for a future Vantage AMR or something.

Remove the manufactured expectations, take it at face value, and the 2025 Aston Martin Vantage is a wonderful piece of machinery and an undisputedly great road car. Domineeringly exciting powertrain, exquisite body movements, an even more exquisite body, and, at last, an interior no automaker should be ashamed of.

Max Earey

I prefer it to the new AMG GT; it looks way better, drives with more character, and, believe it or not, has a less infuriating interior. One might even be able to call it good value too because at $194,400 to start, the Vantage is priced at 911 Turbo and GT3 territory but makes more power than both while unequivocally making more jaws drop when it's out on the road—although there's reason to believe Porsche's published hp figures are quite conservative.

Perhaps that "underpromise, overdeliver" attitude is another thing Aston should be borrowing from the Germans, then. Tell everybody the Vantage is a #realsportscar made for #realdrivers and anything less than a #PorscheGT3 tier drive will always result in some level of disappointment. Let the Vantage's drop-dead styling, brimstone rocketship powertrain, and really quite decent handling speak for itself, though, and it suddenly becomes one of the coolest ways in the world to spend $200,000.

2025 Aston Martin Vantage Specs
Base Price$194,400
Powertrain4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 | 8-speed automatic transmission | rear-wheel drive
Horsepower656 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque590 lb-ft @ 2,750-6,000 rpm
Seating Capacity2
Dry Weight3,538 pounds
Cargo Volume12.2 cubic feet
0-60 mph3.4 seconds
Top Speed202 mph
WLTP Fuel Economy23.3 mpg combined
Quick TakeAn exercise in making great strides. An exercise in managing expectations.
Score8.5/10

Got a tip or question for the author about the Vantage? You can reach him here: chris.tsui@thedrive.com

stripe
Aston Martin ReviewsAston Martin Vantage