Preserving the family name
IntroductionIt's tough to carry on a family name, especially in the land of the blue bloods. And it's not only a challenge faced by the privileged occupants of Buckingham Palace, but also by the engineers at Aston Martin. With a multitude of high standards, lofty expectations, and the incessant public scrutiny, it's a miracle that they can get out of bed in the morning. But, like their royal brethren, Aston's best put on their game faces and take on the world each day.Introduced at the 2005 Geneva Auto Show, the 2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage is the newest member of this historic British automotive brand's lineup. The family resemblance is unmistakable, with the V8 Vantage almost mirroring the DB9, albeit with somewhat smaller dimensions and four fewer cylinders. But, the V8 Vantage packs a lot of punch into its relatively diminutive package, and aspires to equal its big brother's athleticism.
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage's top is a bit more arched than that of the DB9. Gone is the DB9's trunk, replaced on the V8 Vantage with a hatch. The overall weight is kept down with the liberal use of aluminum throughout the body and frame, with further savings from magnesium inner door panels. Holding it all together are aerospace-quality adhesives and self-piercing rivets.
Turning the rear tires is an all-aluminum, 4.3-liter, 32-valve V8, which is bolted in up front and should crank out about 380 horsepower. A six-speed manual gearbox is mounted in the rear. Specific placement of the powertrain components helps the 2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage achieve near perfect weight distribution, a big plus for handling.
Upon quick glance, only the discerning eye will notice the subtle differences between the 2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage the larger DB9. Aside from its obvious smaller dimensions (it is the smallest Aston Martin model), a close inspection reveals revised front and rear fascias and a shorter rear overhang.
Unlike the DB9's four-passenger seating capacity, the smaller 2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage has room for only two occupants. However, inside the rear hatch there's enough space for several overnight bags.
Production will be limited, but Americans wishing to adopt their own Aston Martin V8 Vantage will have their chance starting in late 2005.Photos courtesy of Aston Martin