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Motoring: Expensive car gets rave reviews

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | October 23rd, 2006

For many things we do on a regular basis, 78 minutes is enough time to do it in. For instance, 78 minutes more than enough time to spend on lunch. You can most certainly do your grocery shopping in that time or do your laundry. However, 78 minutes is not nearly enough time to get to spend with an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, but then, it's not something one gets to do on a regular basis anyway, unless you own one.

Recently I was lucky enough to get to spend that amount of time with the new baby Aston in Toronto, when a pair of Vantage test drive vehicles were brought in from the U.S. by Aston Martin of Toronto, to allow potential customers and some journalists to get a taste of this beautiful car.

While that wasn't nearly enough time to spend with the car for a proper analysis, I was fortunate to spend a day with this car when I was in U.K. earlier this year.

So how is it then?

From the looks point of view, you can't fault it. This is truly one of the most beautiful production cars made today. Every angle, every proportion looks right. It has that muscular stance that suggests skin has been tightly stretched to cover its innards.

This car's perfect looks comes as no surprise, once you know the man behind the project. The Vantage was designed by Henrik Fisker (who now has his own coach build car company) whom I consider a design genius.

Fisker worked his magic on the inside too, since the interior looks great too. It's very modern both in terms of looks and technology. You get all the modern gizmos, including a wonderful navigation system.

It is easy to get into the car too thanks to the swan like doors that gently swing outwards and slightly upwards (great if you're parked near a curb) however getting that perfect driving position is a bit tough. Once settled in you have to spend some time getting to know the car around you since visibility is limited thanks to thick A-pillars and C-pillars. Couple that with the cars wide front-wheel arches and rear-wheel arches, threading this car through town can be tough on the nerves, especially the first time around. So imagine my stress level when the very first time I drove this car, was in downtown London (U.K.), I must have been the most irritating car in the mad dash world of London traffic that day but I wanted to give myself as much room as possible. Driving through Toronto traffic was by no means an easy task, but I did feel a lot more comfortable on roads I am used to, and having the steering wheel on the correct side (left).

However, cars like these are not made to be driven in the inner city, they are made for the open road. So I pointed it towards the highway to unleash the beast.

The beast I speak of is a 4.3-litre, V8 that produces 380 hp, and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox driving the rear wheels. So have no doubt, this car is fast. We are talking about a car that'll fling you from 0-100 km/h in 5.2 and onto a top speed of about 280 km/h. Yes, I know what you're thinking, there are plenty of cars that are as quick as this for a whole lot less, and top speed doesn't matter much anyway. But what does matter is how a car feels at speed. The Vantage is stable, composed and confidence inspiring. I don't want to sound like I am prompting you to speed, but if you want a car that allows you to safely travel at a higher pace, this is about as good as it gets. However, while decently comfortable for a sportscar, this is by no means as comfortable as a luxury car (like those new Bentley's I love so much). What you notice when you're just cruising along at a normal pace is, that there is more tire-noise than you might have expected and also the ride is very stiff. I generally like cars that allow me to feel the road, this at times gives too much feel.

While I'm nagging, I'd like to tell you that the clutch and gearbox is a bit on the stiff side (not like the well-oiled precision you get from a Porsche 911), and while the brakes are fine, they could have been better.

Still overall the driving experience is great, partly because of the abilities of the car, but perhaps mostly because it is an Aston Martin.

Aston's have always been special, perhaps due to that secret service agent bloke who uses one as his company car. Trust me, if an Aston Martin is good enough for James Bond, it is good enough for you.

Oh yeah, one more thing, if you want one, you will have to come up with $135,000 (plus all fees and taxes) for a base model, and that demand has been so strong for this car, you have to wait two-years to get one. No problem, that gives me just enough time to strike it rich, I hope. If anyone wants to just give me that amount of money so I can have my Aston, you know where to find me.
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