A spiritual experience can have different connotations for everyone, whether it be in the traditional sense of sitting in a church or on a mountain top watching the dawn break. My spiritual experience takes place when I am driving and it is heightened when the vehicle is something just a bit more special like the Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition coupe.
Not only did I feel special while driving the Vantage, but the other motorists around me were also charmed by the Satin Aston Martin Racing Green Vantage, as there were plenty of eyes on it in the traffic. The distinctive colour may have something to do with this as it looks like you have just driven the official F1 Safety Car off the nearest race track.
The full-width front splitter, front dive planes, underbody turning vanes, and the new rear wing are designed to deliver positive front and rear downforce, totalling 200kg more than the standard Vantage at top speed – as well as optimising the overall balance of the car. The rear diffuser remains unchanged but is still a core feature in the delivery of the aerodynamic performance working in tandem with the new aerodynamic features.
Increased downforce aside I loved the look of the exterior design of the Vantage F1! The rear wing, bulging rear wheel arches, gills that you can see through, the driving lights, and definitely having those F1 emblems all remind you that this is a very special Vantage indeed. Mirroring the F1 cars found on track, this Vantage also has 2×2 twill carbon fibre bonnet vents, mirror caps, side gills and a full carbon fibre roof. One important exterior feature that I noted was the big doors are made of a magnesium alloy, so they are actually super light and very easy to open and close.
The F1 Edition not only looks the part, it also has increased power from the all-alloy quad overhead cam, 4.0 litre twin turbo V8 going from 375kW to 393kW at 6000rpm, while the maximum torque of 685Nm from 2000-5000rpm remains the same as the standard Vantage. There is no perceived turbo lag thanks to the hot V configuration of the turbos, so the Vantage is good for a 0-100km/h time of just 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 314km/h. The official combined fuel consumption is 11.6L/100m and for my weekend of fun I used 13.7L/100km.
The glorious V8 engine is vicious on a cold start, with the exhaust permanently set to ‘loud’, as there is no on/off switch to quieten it down. The V8 sounds muscular and really matches the look of the Vantage. There is not much sound deadening in the cabin so you get the full V8 experience inside and out of the Vantage.
The eight-speed ZF automatic transmission has received some tweaks as well with an optimised torque cut during upshifts that reduces shift times and increases the feeling of directness and precision. Gear selection is made via the buttons on the dash and for ‘manual’ gear changes you can use the lovely metal paddle shifters mounted on the steering column. Personally, I prefer steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and on a couple of occasions I did lose contact with them during aggressive cornering. One thing to note as well when you use the paddles, the gearbox stays in manual mode until you press the D button to re-engage the automatic.
There are three drive modes in the Vantage, Sport, Sport Plus and Track. Although there is no Comfort mode, I felt the Vantage had a softer ride than our Mercedes-AMG C63S, this may have something to do with the Adaptive Damping System with Skyhook technology that is fitted to the Vantage? I liked that the suspension controls were separate from the drive modes so you can be in a Sportier mode and still have a comfortable ride.
The 21-inch Pirelli P Zero 295/30 rear tyres do a good job keeping all that horse power in check and I was only able to get the back end to wiggle under hard acceleration, but nothing too scary even in damp conditions.
The pleasantness of the Vantage F1 Edition continues in the cabin with Onyx Black Haircell Leather and Grey Alcantara with a Lime Green, contrast stripe and stitching, which not only looks good but smells good as well. This is paired with more carbon fibre and F1 badging as a further reminder of what this Vantage is all about.
The race inspired seats are comfortable, even after spending a number of hours behind the wheel, and they held me in tight. The power seat controls are located on either the side of the transmission tunnel for easy access and both seats have three memory positions and are heated. My elderly mother was able to get in and out of the Vantage without any great trouble and this says a lot about the ease of which the Vantage would be to live with on a day-to-day basis.
Cabin storage is also a plus for the Vantage, despite the fact that it doesn’t have a glovebox. There are reasonable sized cubbies in the doors and two narrow cup holders in the centre console. Between the seats there is a space for your hand bag and the ledge behind the seats has a lip to stop items from falling off. I liked that you can reach behind the seats to access the parcel shelf, so you can store your hand bag here as well. Overall, there is definitely more storage space in the Vantage compared to some other two-seater Coupes that I have driven.
From a technology standpoint the Vantage is fitted with the older style Mercedes-Benz 8.0″ LCD screen, which is navigated using the rotary control switch and being familiar with the Merc system I did feel quite at home with the Vantage infotainment system. Under the arm rest there is one 12V, two USBs and a SD card slot and the Vantage I drove did not have Apple CarPlay, but this can be fitted as an optional extra. In addition to satellite navigation and vehicle controls the infotainment system also allows access to media including AM radio, FM/DAB, Bluetooth, Memory card or USB, but personally I would rather listen to the choral song of the bi-turbo V8.
The sporty Alcantara wrapped steering wheel has controls on the right-hand side for selecting your drive mode and suspension settings on the left-hand side. The voice control works well and is designated by a button on the steering wheel that has a microphone on it, rather than a masculine silhouette used by Mercedes. Behind the steering wheel is a digital drivers dash, which changes look depending on what drove mode you are in.
Safety systems on the Vantage F1 are limited to standard cruise control and blind spot monitoring. It does have a surround view camera paired with a standard rear view camera with front and rear sensors and you are able to turn the cameras on using a button on the dash to ensure you miss the curb when parking. For convenience the Vantage does have auto lights and auto wipers.
There is no external boot release button on the Vantage, you access the boot via the key fob or button in the cabin and you manually pull down to close. The boot is a good size for a sports car and would fit the weekly shop or luggage for a weekend away. I was informed by the Aston Martin Sales Manager that when you fold down the flap towards the front of the boot that you can also fit a set of gold clubs in. There is a tyre repair kit is included as well.
All new Aston Martin vehicles come with a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty and an extended warranty can also be purchased. The service interval for Astons is every 12 months or 16,000km whichever occurs first and a major service is completed every four years.
How much does this divine experience cost you ask? The price as tested for this Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition coupe is $341,378 excluding on-road costs. Visit your preferred Aston Martin dealer to be spiritually moved by the Vantage for yourself.
|The glorious V8 engine||No Apple CarPlay fitted as standard|
|The exterior and interior design||No external boot release button|
|Decent storage space for a coupe||No adaptive cruise control|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine