Tim thurston test drives one of the world's most iconic sports car - the Aston Martin Vantage. Photography by Lucy Jenkins
"Would you like to test the new Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster," asked Cotswold Life editor, Mike Lowe. "Sorry did you say, have the sole use for two days of the latest version of one of the world's most iconic sports cars?" I replied."Yes, we want the view of an ordinary, average driver."
So here it is...
Exchanging my series 5 BMW for a 380bhp, 4.3 litre V8 engine super car, which has a top speed of 175mph and can reach 60mph in only 4.9 seconds, was always going to be interesting to say the least. As it transpired it was not only interesting, but also exhilarating, exciting and great fun. Even if at 18 miles per gallon, rather expensive.
The experience of an Aston Martin starts before you even get into the car. Obviously there's the badge that screams 'Secret Agent, hairpin roads through the Alps and, of course, quality'.
The shape is, as you would expect, aerodynamic and stylish, with a broad rear adding to the aura of power. Once inside the cockpit, the Vantage doesn't disappoint. With many of the controls in textured aluminium and with the over-sized leather stitching and dials that would grace any high street jeweller, you know this is a different class of motoring. Other cars nowadays have a start button, but this one has an Aston Martin logo. All car engines make a sound, but not like this one.
Once started the car is easy to drive. The automatic version has dashboard operated gear selections. If you want manual gear selection, they can be engaged by the steering column paddles, which add to the excitement of the drive.
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The seats, as well as being heated, have electronic controls for virtually any setting with memorised positions, which together with the option of sports suspension or a comfort setting means whatever the length or terrain of your journey you won't be uncomfortable. The instruments and controls are all you could wish for: Sat Nav, CD changer/radio, telephone, every light you can imagine, auto sensitive wipers and parking sensors.
But the fun starts when you choose drive and release the handbrake. The acceleration is exhilarating, supplemented by the most wonderful turbocharged engine sound imaginable. In traffic it drives OK, but is like a thoroughbred race horse being reined back. It strains at the leash and with its high fuel consumption is not at its best. However, once on the open road it is a different story. The steering is responsive, the handling superb, it sticks to the road allowing safe, quick cornering. As well as the initial acceleration, either through the automatic gear box or the flick to manual, bursts of acceleration are what this machine is all about. Sticking to the speed limit is your main concern.
Cruising is pleasurable, any type of challenge, cornering, overtaking, accelerating is fun. I drove 300 miles in one day and could have easily have driven it again.
As with any sports car there are down sides. Unless you are single or have little luggage, there is little boot or storage space. The engine isn't built for an urban cycle, you need to read the manual to find out where the fuel and bonnet releases are and visibility with the hood up is restricted. But what a piece of engineering that hood is - smoothly converting a sleek machine into a stunning topless model!
In conclusion, as cars go this is a classic that I'm sure in years to come will be exhibited as feat of motor engineering. It might have its impracticalities and you'd probably need another car. But if you don't need to count the pennies, want a drive that is iconic, pleasurable, luxurious and exciting, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster has the license to thrill.
Price: From �92,147.