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2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
By James Riswick

Click for detail photo. I have always contended that automobiles represent the epitome of human ingenuity. They simultaneously represent our scientific and creative abilities by being both engineering achievements and works of art. Whether itís a Ford Fusion or a Ferrari Fiorano, the combined talents of scientific and artistic minds must merge.

The new embodiment of my theory is the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Astons have always been beautiful (at least the two-door ones) even before a certain Mr. Bond took the keys to a silver birch DB5. Some have been more attractive than others, but ever since the DB7 in 1994, they are known for sporting sensual lines that are nonetheless aggressive and desired by every man on Earth. (OK, so thereís a guy in Milwaukee who doesnít like them, but he drives an Aztek.)

The V8 Vantage is the newest Aston work of art. Based upon the aluminum DB9 platform, it is a little stalkier than its voluptuously sexy sibling but its smaller proportions make it much sportier looking. While the DB9 is a car primarily to be seen in, the V8 Vantage is a car that looks like it also means serious driving business Ėand it does.

Powered by a 4.3-liter Jaguar-derived V8, the Vantage makes a robust 380 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque. It is tremendously smooth and swings up to its 7000 rpm red line very quickly, delivering 0 to 60 mph times at or around five seconds. Changing gears is done the old fashion way with a precise yet mechanical-feeling 6-speed manual.

Where the engineering part of my equation is best demonstrated is the way the Vantage moves through curves, bends, twists and turns like no Aston before it. Like the DB9, its engine is placed slightly aft of the front axle and its transmission is just forward of the rear axle creating a near perfect weight balance. Itís lighter than the DB9 and feels like it, because unlike its bigger brother, the Vantage feels nimble, well-controlled and always ready to be flung into the next hairpin. This is a sports car that can compete with (and arguably beat) a Porsche 911 for handling title rights while simultaneously making its Teutonic rival look frumpy in the process.

In fact, although the Vantageís performance abilities are something truly special, it is still inevitably its styling, design and wonderfully luxurious attention to details that make this car a perfect example of human ingenuity. The ridgeline that extends from Astonís signature side vents all the way past the doors is an exotic touch, as are the thin side mirror stalks and sexy front end that strikes the perfect balance between heritage and modernity.

Inside, supple leather covers almost everything from the top of the dashboard to the door trim and comfortably snug bucket seats. These areas are covered in a choice of 20 different leather colors that can be ordered in any combination you want with one of the 20 exterior colors. Want a bright red exterior with light blue seats and an orange dash? Well, youíre a horribly tacky person, but Aston Martin will be happy to oblige. (Check out the Configurator feature at AstonMartin.com. Itís fun.) Other details like aluminum trim and slick metallic gauges add to the interiorís craftsmanship. The only flaws would be limited visibility and possibly the electrical gremlins common to anything built in Britain.

As you can see, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage perfectly blends humankindís common abilities for engineering and the arts. It looks amazing, and for the first time in recent Aston history, it has driving dynamics to match. Although it has received plenty of attention and accolades since its recent debut, expect the Vantageís mystique to explode come November when Daniel Craig jumps into its driver seat of the one-off-but-very-similar DBS as the new 007 in ďCasino Royale.Ē With this world-wide fame and near-perfect attributes, I have no doubt that the V8 Vantage will go down as one of the most famous and best cars in history Ė it would be a title well deserved.

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Pictures of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage
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Posted March 26, 2006
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