The most track-focused Aston Martin Vantage revels in its F1 tie-in. Here’s five things you need to know about the outrageous Vantage F1 Edition.
It’s the car Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton follow
It’s not easy staying ahead of those two but the Vantage F1 Edition leads the way as one of F1’s official safety cars (the Mercedes AMG-GT’s the other). Aston wasn’t about to miss the marketing opportunity F1 brings, so the aptly (if obviously) badged F1 Edition is here for public consumption. The two door, two-seat sports car is $325,876 before on-roads; a decent jump over a normal Vantage’s $299,462 plus costs. But you score more than just F1 badges. Its Mercedes-AMG sourced 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 gets an 18kW bump to 393kW, while its auto gearbox has been tweaked to reduce shift times.
Elsewhere there’s increased structural stiffness, reworked dampers and a sharper steering feel. The result is a more track and fast road focused Vantage – less Grand Tourer, more Grand Prix.
There are the usual supercar compromises
You’ll not be smothered in sympathy if you grumble about Vantage F1 ownership, but it’s not all glamorous casinos, Bond girls and martinis. Good luck remaining elegant clambering over its mighty door sills, while your spine takes a kicking on poor bits of road due to the F1’s stiffer suspension and low profile 21-inch tyres. After recent heavy rains and floods, pot holes scarred our test route; after a day in Aston’s Sport Plus seats I craved a chiropractor over cocktails. Aston’s three-year warranty is stingy and our 14.6L/100km economy makes fuel bills bite. But what a fun way to burn your hard-earned and Premium 98.
Love attention? There’s little to touch it for the money
Adding “F1” to your Vantage brings a not-subtle aero kit. At top speed (314km/h) it gives 200kg more downforce than a normal Vantage. It also delivers the kind of presence that has onlookers expecting Daniel Craig to clamber out. If you want to impress/bore your pub mates, tell them about the full-width front splitter, front dive planes and underbody turning vanes. They’ll be more likely to notice the rear wing, though. Some say it’s gorgeously aggressive, others view it as a stick-on disfigurement. For me, with satin racing green paint, I reckon the full package is gorgeous. Try standing out like this for similar money. An AMG GT R’s closer to $375,000, the Lamborghini Huracan Evo RWD is $385,000 and Porsche’s GT3 is $388,000.
It’s a riot to drive
It delivers the theatre to match its Hollywood looks. In Track Mode the quad exhausts emit race car burbles and pops and it’s a bloody screamer as you surge to the redline. There’s a wall of noise as 100km/h arrives in just 3.6 seconds. Its grip, balance, cornering ability and rapid gear shifts let you know the F1’s been set up for precision, attack-mode driving. At speed, the steering feel is sublime, allowing for pinpoint placement in corners. Blessedly, and even on wet roads, a communicative and planted rear end gives you the confidence to get greedy on the throttle. And what an acceleration monster this bruiser feels when you do.
It’s not for the everyday and the infotainment’s a shocker
You’re on the floor in firm bucket seats and after six hours of driving and some shockingly bumpy roads my back wasn’t happy. Some cabin buttons and the daft way you adjust the wing mirrors don’t belong in a car this pricey, and while the Alcantara steering wheel is lovely in the hands, it’s too big to feel sporty. An old Mercedes-Benz sourced infotainment unit feels teleported in from 2004, the voice control proved a disaster and the safety kit’s wanting. Alcantara coats nearly every surface of the surprisingly spacious interior and the boot’s big enough for grand touring. Show it a smooth fast road and it’s heavenly, but on smashed-up city roads it’s best to park up and simply enjoy the attention.