2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster, and how to spend that Facebook IPO: Motoramic Drives
Car critics seem to live the life of Riley. Exotic machines dropped off at the curb daily and so forth. Truth is, most of time it's straight-forward people movers, frugal, well-built machines that rock neither the pocket book nor the soul. But not today.
When the black on black Aston Martin rolls up, a spawn of James Bond and Catwoman, you know what it feels like to be a new Facebook bazillionaire, suddenly rich enough to on a whim buy a small Caribbean island or a new 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
But then I look up the model's base price: $118,000? OK, not chump change, but a price that's less than half of Aston's road-rocking DBS. Sure, you're missing four cylinders in the V8 Vantage, but you've got the same rakish looks, snarling exhaust note and valet cache that says "I'm not following the herd."
And what a herd it is. With the 2012 V8 Vantage Roadster, Aston has deliberately jumped into a snarling pit of sub-$200,000 exotic convertibles, which includes the likes of the Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet ($149,000), Mercedes SL65 AMG Roadster ($150,000), Maserati Gran Turismo Convertible ($136,000) and Audi R8 Spyder ($171,800). Our test car slotted right into that crowd at $148,395, thanks to that rag top and options such as a paddle-shift transmission, premium audio and the like, presenting a pampering if not overly luxe package that returns respectable EPA scores of 14mpg city and 21 mpg highway.
"The V8 Vantage is deliberately the most accessible of all our models, designed to appeal to someone who might have a full garage of high-end cars but wants a nice daily driver," says Matthew Clarke, brand communications manager for Aston Martin, which since 2007 has been run by a consortium of British and Kuwaiti investors.
The typical Aston buyer? "Self-made for starters, and the Aston is their reward," says Clarke. "Our buyers wear their designer labels on the inside."
Really now? Push the elegant black and crystal matchbox-size "key" into its designated dash slot and the V8 fires to life with a rumble that causes heads to whip around. And they tend to stay swiveled once they catch a glimpse of the Vantage body. At this point, those Aston styling cues are familiar: a gaping mouth of a grill, a long snout of a nose creased by two deft folds and a rear end that is impossibly wide without feeling chunky.
But the best news is that the Roadster loses nothing to the coupe in the looks department. If anything, with its seriously raked windshield arguments can be made that 007 shouldn't have bothered with a coupe in the first place. This car has serious sex appeal.