2012 Aston Martin Vantage review: Cheap for the brand

We all revere the Aston Martin marque as the classically English car of James Bond, and now the company takes a stab at making its models more affordable.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The new Vantage V8 is not the first Aston Martin with only eight cylinders, just the newest. While other models from this hallowed company boast V-12s exclusively, Aston Martin decided to let the Vantage go downmarket a little, equipping it with a smaller engine and dropping the price to within view of $100,000.

But even at $150,000, what do you get for your money? The white, winged badge looks cool and the body boasts head-turning style. The V-8 under the hood delivers plenty of power with an enjoyable exhaust note, while the rigid body lends itself to sharp cornering. And the coachwork certainly speaks luxury.

However, cars at a quarter of the price feature much better cabin tech. Aston Martin embedded what is essentially a portable navigation device into the dashboard, identifiable as a Garmin from the screen design, but not quite the latest Garmin. Controlling what was designed to be a touch-screen device with console buttons becomes very tedious. And despite having a perfectly useful color LCD in the car, Aston Martin places all the phone and stereo system information on a much smaller monochrome radio display. This pricey status symbol is not quite up with the times.

One fixable problem with the Vantage V8 is the single-clutch automated manual transmission, the fix being not to option it. The transmission takes so long with its shifts that it renders the car nearly undrivable, at least in day-to-day traffic. The base transmission is a six-speed manual, which should solve the problem and be much more enjoyable to use.

Check out CNET's full review of the 2012 Aston Martin Vantage V8 Roadster .

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.


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