ASTON MARTIN V8 VANTAGE S

ASTON MARTIN V8 VANTAGE S

LIKE THE JAGUAR, THE Aston Vantage S is another rapid British coupe offering an upgrade that appears not to justify the hike in price. After all, for the extra £11,600 Aston is asking it's providing a scant 10 extra horsepower and a couple of tenths off an already swift 0-60mph time. But this time it is the changes that cannot be demonstrated in a couple of quick statistics that have transformed the car. I do not exaggerate. I've been a long-time fan of the Vantage, feeling that it made up in exclusivity and looks what it lost to, say, the equivalent Porsche 911 in terms of all-out punch or precision. But there is no need to make excuses for the Vantage S. Boasting quicker steering, revised suspension, beffer brakes and an allnew seven-speed robotised manual gearbox between its

rear wheels, the S is not only quicker but, more importantly, lighter and sharper too. It is now not just a beautiful car, but also a beautifully judged car. On the track it is remarkably composed for a 1600kg vehicle but this has not been achieved at the expense of making it undriveable on bumpy back roads. On the contrary so good is its damping that it

controls its body movements effortlessly while riding well enough to qualify the car not simply for recreational use, but as sensible daily transport.

One more thing. Alongside the Virage reviewed last month and the Rapide before it, the Vantage S cements my impression that Aston Martin is building its cars to rather higher standards these days. You can never speak definitively on such issues based on only a few days and five hundred miles in a nearly-new car, but what I can say is it possesses a sense of construction integrity I have not historically associated with the marque.