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Geneva show: Aston V8 Vantage S is all for the driver

Power play: The big air intake and front splitter, big wheels and beefier side sills are a giveaway for Aston’s new V8 Vantage S, but the biggest changes are under the skin.

Aston Martin reinvigorates V8 Vantage with more powerful, driver-focused S model

27 Jan 2011

ASTON Martin has revealed a new driver-focused V8 Vantage S with more power, a new sequential-manual transmission, enhanced dynamics and V12 Vantage-inspired looks ahead of its world premiere at the Geneva motor show on March 1 and its mid-2011 Australian arrival.

Aston Martin’s Australian and New Zealand operations manager, Marcel Fabris, has confirmed to GoAuto that dealers will take orders for the Vantage S from next week ahead of the first deliveries, which are expected in June.

Pricing is still to be confirmed, although Mr Fabris said the S model – which has been developed as both a coupe and roadster – will attract around a 10 per cent increase over the standard V8 Vantage, which translates to a starting point of around $285,000 for the coupe and $310,000 for the roadster.

He also said 35 retail sales of the new model were expected this year.

For the money, the familiar mid-mounted, all-alloy, 4.7-litre 32-valve quad-cam V8 has been modified to deliver 321kW of power at 7300rpm and 490Nm of torque at 5000rpm – up 8kW and 20Nm respectively.

Acceleration figures are still to be revealed, but the S – which is not available with a conventional manual gearbox – is sure to be quicker than the 4.8 seconds the standard V8 Vantage manages from 0-100km/h. Maximum speed is 305km/h.

The engine, which now has a valved air intake system (opening above 3500rpm) and an “aggressive spark strategy” (using an advanced electronic fuel ignition system), is mated to what Aston describes as a “ground-up developed” Sportshift II seven-speed single-clutch automated manual transmission.

Specifically designed for the Vantage S in conjunction with Graziano, the gearbox is claimed to shift 20 per cent faster than those of the current optional six-speed Speedshift, and Aston says the extra ratio has allowed engineers to take better advantage of the engine’s torque.

44 center image A shorter final drive ratio of 4.182:1 is also said to deliver quicker acceleration for the car, which at 1610kg (coupe the roadster is 1690kg) is 30kg lighter than the standard Vantage owing to lighter transmission (saving 24kg) and the use of carbon-fibre, as used on the special-edition N420 version.

As is the case with other Astons, the transmission is mounted at the back of the Vantage S on the transaxle to help produce “near-perfect” 49:51 front/rear weight distribution.

The revised engine/gearbox combination produces a combined fuel consumption figure of 12.9L/100km and CO2 emissions of 299g/km, which is around the same mark as the standard V8 which, based on Australian specification, returns 12.6L/100km and 295g/km.

Steering column-mounted shift paddles are provided, along with a ‘Sport’ button which quickens the gear changes and provides the driver with a more aggressive throttle response and a rortier exhaust note (opening the exhaust bypass valves across most of the engine speed range). Valve openings at 3500rpm also produce more crackle on the overrun.

Other engineering revisions include a quickened rack ratio of 15:1 (compared to 17:1 on the standard Vantage) for the Servotronic speed-sensitive power-assisted rack and pinion steering – turns lock to lock are also down from 3.04 to 2.62 – and larger-diameter ventilated and grooved front brake discs (now 380mm, up 25mm) with new six-piston front callipers.

Rear braking hardware includes 330mm rotors with four-piston callipers, while a new brake booster is designed to reduce pedal effort and travel.

New springs and dampers for the double wishbone suspension front and rear, and wider rear wheels, contribute further to the chassis revisions. The dynamic stability control system has also been specifically tuned for the S, while hill-start assist technology is introduced for the first time.

The standard wheels are 19-inch V-spoke alloys (silver painted with a diamond-turned finish) with specifically designed Bridgestone Potenza RE050 rubber at each end – 8.5J x 19” rims and 245/40-section tyres up front and 10.0J on 285/35s at the rear. The tyres are 10mm wider at both the front and rear than the regular V8 Vantage.

Ten-spoke lightweight forged wheels will be available as an option.

Apart from the wheels, the notable exterior changes include a new front bumper with a large air intake and a carbon-fibre splitter, the latter working in conjunction with a more pronounced rear boot-lid spoiler to create increased downforce at speed.

A new rear bumper (with a carbon-fibre diffuser) and side sills are designed to make the car look broader than the standard Vantage, and contribute to reduced rear lift.

Highlights of the two-seater cabin include distinctive three-track stitching detail on the doors and seats, a new ‘folded’ leather trim design (said to echo the gills of a shark) and optional carbon-fibre/Kevlar composite sports seats. A piano black interior pack option has also been developed exclusively for the Vantage S.

Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez said the Vantage S “epitomises every attribute of the V8 Vantage and pushes the driver experience beyond what we have offered before”.

“It combines dynamic exhilaration with all the charming finesse, beauty and practicality already associated with the Vantage range,” he said.

The current V8 Vantage with Speedshift starts at $258,669 for the coupe (N420: $280,897) and $283,095 for the roadster (N420: $305,323).

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