The Good The 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster looks like a million bucks and snakes through corners with near-perfect manners. The midlevel audio system option sounds excellent, and there is an even better audio system available.
The Bad The automated manual transmission option produces huge power dips at each gear change. There is little integration between the few cabin tech features, with different screens for navigation and stereo.
The Bottom Line The 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster serves as a fine showpiece, but a balky transmission and poor cabin electronics hurt its everyday drivability.
2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster
The 2012 Aston Martin Vantage looks gorgeous, and the new versions with V-8 engines, Coupe and Roadster, put the marque in a price range affordable to a greater portion of the 1 percent. But a few good reasons exist not to buy one. First, everyone and his brother, not to mention sisters, aunts, nephews, and third cousins, will make some reference to James Bond at the mere mention of the car.
Second, the specter of Lucas, the British company famous for faulty parts, inhabits the electronics. The parking brake, despite its classic-looking lever, is electronically actuated, and proved troublesome to release. The radio display occasionally got stuck in phone mode, and the only way to force it to switch to the audio interface was to plug an iPod or USB into the car.
However, those issues make little difference when gazing upon the tight, roadster body with its classic proportions, or when listening to the rough growl of the 4.7-liter engine when the revs climb. Pushing the button labeled Sport and pointing the stiff-bodied Vantage into a turn, feeling its tail happily slide out, will emphasize the view out the windshield, sidelining any concern over tuning in a satellite radio station.