RE: Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT8: Review

RE: Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT8: Review

Saturday 18th June 2016

Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT8: Review

Turn every drive into a lap of Le Mans with the Aston Martin Vantage GT8!



Wing or no wing? After handing the keys for the Vantage GT8 back to Aston Martin I'm still conflicted. Most of those who've driven it before me got to do so in the context of the 'ring 24, where the GT8's appearance will have been less jarring. In the context of a peaceful Cotswolds village though?

Not sure.


This is, of course, entirely hypocritical. Chuck me the keys to a 911 GT3 RS and I'll happily nip to the shops in a bright orange car with full aero and a giant plank bolted to its back end. In the context of an Aston Martin Vantage I just can't quite shake the feeling it's all a bit ... Mansory. Especially in this colour scheme.

There, I said it.

Two mitigating factors. First, Mansory's work isn't all bad - check out its Evora package for instance. Second, the wing and more extreme front aero elements are optional. Had I a) £165K to chuck at a new Aston Martin and b) been quick enough to be among the 150 to bag a GT8, I think I'd have left that box unticked.

Make your mind up
While I'm being all contrary there's one option I think I would have gone for that may surprise people. This Aston Martin press car has a manual gearbox, which is obviously what any hairy-chested, purist driver PHer would want and demonstrates Aston Martin's dedication to the cause. I'll go out on a limb here and say in THIS car, specifically because it wears its GT racer influence so clearly, the Sportshift III paddle-shifted robo-manual would be my choice.


Accepted wisdom has it this gearbox is awful. It isn't, you just have to work with it. And if you're going to have a car that looks like a racing Aston Martin I think it should have a gearbox like a racing Aston Martin. More on this shortly.

This is all academic of course, given the GT8 is already a sell-out. Now, when Porsche announced sell-out, hardcore, driver-focused special edition everyone who missed out got very cross indeed. Will Aston Martin incur the same kind of wrath? Comments thread below for that. First let me tell you what you could have won.

The main stats and facts about the GT8 remain true to those in the original announcement. In brief though we've got the regular 4.7 V8 tickled from 436hp to 446hp, shouting very loudly indeed through a centre-exit titanium exhaust system. This, and further lightweight bits like the magnesium centre-lock wheels, carbon roof and polycarbonate rear windows, are optional. So-equipped your GT8 would cost you (apparently) £200K and weigh about 100kg less than a regular Vantage S. Without them it's a still respectable 80kg saving and a burly £165,000.


Sorry, can't hear you
The bodywork may match the exhaust for shoutiness but it's got factory developed provenance, 34mm/54mm front/rear increases in body width containing corresponding widening of tracks and distinctive, race-inspired scallops out of the broader front wings. Dampers are passive, spring rates are up 25 per cent front, the front anti-roll bar likewise by an undisclosed amount. Rear settings are standard. The front wheels are an inch wider, the rears half an inch, and all four wear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. After experiencing the same on the 911 GT3 I'm glad the rain doesn't come until final motorway miles back to Gaydon.

The source of existential crisis over the manual gearbox comes before that though. The character of the GT8 is in keeping with the looks. Which is to say racy. Like a proper competition car the suspension ties the body down but also has a suppleness about it too, the mark of some expert spring/damper tuning. It deals well with B-road pitter patter but the stand-out feature is the consistent, confident body control through fast direction changes. With the upright, fixed-back seats and wheel pulled close into your chest you can really get into character too, the weight and feedback through the Alcantara trimmed rim perfectly matched to the intent of the chassis set-up. Some camber sensitivity from the stiffer front end and wider tyres is fed back to you through the wheel and the weighting loads up naturally as you lean on the grip into the turns. But this is proper stuff, a world away from the numb electric set-ups prevailing in most rivals.


When the bumps get bigger you sense a lack of suspension travel to cope fully, flares of revs and the odd flicker from the DSC light under power suggesting there's not always enough damper stroke to maintain a consistent tyre contact patch. You also get the occasional, and expensive sounding, interaction between front splitter and ground, suggesting smoother surfaces are this car's forte. On dry and less bumpy tarmac grip from the Cup 2 tyres remains unshakeable, turn-in reassuringly precise with enough traction to push that long-travel throttle to the bulkhead very early in the corner without a flicker from the DSC light. As it lacks that mentalist lunge for the horizon you get from the V12, the GT8 is a car for carrying speed through the corner and maintaining your flow, something the more natural weight distribution helps with. Tighter, wetter and/or bumpier roads may have you a little more thoughtful though.


Broad canvas
That's appropriate for the car's brief though and, really, the GT8 is a bit much for a nadgery B-road and requires a bit of space to really show its talents. The feedback through the wheel and sheer outrageousness of the noise all help it feel entertaining even when the speeds aren't really that high, which is an impressive contrast with the similarly pitched BMW M4 GTS I drove recently. Mighty on the track, the BMW isn't really interested at road speeds but the GT8 is happy to entertain to and from the track, as well as on it. If you can find one that'll let you run with an exhaust system this loud.

The noise is epic, even with my ears still ringing from the F-Type SVR. The V12 in the Vantage S and GT12 is a marvellous sounding thing. But for my money the V8 has an even harder, edgier tone, especially in the GT8. It sounds racy enough but it's still got rather a lot of flywheel inertia, lacking the crisp attack of a 911 GT3 engine and meaning your progress through the manual gearbox has to be anticipated with a slight lift ahead of the shift. On the way down it's not a natural blipper either, this rather deliberate gearshift style rather at odds with the racecar vibes coming at you from every other angle. In a regular Vantage, S or N430 I'd be manual all the way. But for keeping up with the rest of the package I'd go Sportshift and (likely) be damned.


Raw, raucous and unashamedly aggressive, the GT8 is yet another sign of Aston Martin's new-found self-confidence. And its deliberate position to remain a bastion of gimmick-free, track-inspired purity that Porsche seems to have abandoned in its desire to broaden the potential customer base for its GT3 products. The GTE racecars are long-standing crowd-pleasers at Le Mans thanks to the noise, looks and general British fighting spirit they embody. Limited production or not, in bringing a sense of that to the road the GT8 (with or without wing and whichever gearbox you think works best) is a fitting tribute.

A little bit of GT8 noise...


ASTON MARTIN V8 VANTAGE GT8
Engine
: 4,735cc V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual, RWD, limited-slip differential (7-speed Sportshift optional)
Power (hp): 446@7,300 (436@7,300rpm)
Torque (lb ft): 361@5,000rpm
0-62mph: N/A (4.8sec)
Top speed: 190mph
Kerbweight: 1,530kg* or 1,605kg EU with 75kg driver (1,685kg EU weight with 75kg driver)
MPG: N/A (20.5 NEDC combined)
CO2: N/A (321g/km)
Price: £165,000 (before options)
*1,509kg with lightweight options
Figures in brackets for Vantage N430, where different









   
   

[Sources: Mansory]

Author
Discussion

CupMeister

Original Poster:

30 posts

61 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
I've got one of these coming Dan and I disagree with you on the aerokit, it's one of the features that sets the GT8 apart from lesser Vantages. I'm a little conflicted about the gearbox as like you said the sportshift suits the flavour of this car but ultimately I prefer a manual and in the future I think this car will be celebrated for being so analogue and the manual will only add to that...Besides, I've optioned the single mass flywheel which should sharpen the delivery and response from the motor, and reduce a bit of that flywheel effect when swapping cogs. The car is full tilt lightweight spec too, so it has the magnesium centre lock wheels saving 4kgs of unsprung mass per corner. I noticed the car you drove had the forged centre lockers, so I wonder if they'll let you journo's loose in a car with the full lightweight configuration. Now all that's left is to agonise over the colour, I'm loving China Grey, but like the Lime of the Sterling Green Halo scheme....what to do....

janesmith1950

2,136 posts

31 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
Give me a lift? smile

Dan Trent

1,815 posts

104 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
Lucky man, I think you instantly win the argument with that! laugh As you can probably tell I'm conflicted about the aero kit but all power to you - I understand the argument about wanting to make it stand out and it certainly achieves that objective. I love the rest of the package though, especially the shaping on the sides. Much cooler than big vents but I can see why the press office put a load of protective tape on there.

Thanks for bringing the single mass flywheel option to my/our attention too, wasn't aware you could have that and, as you say, that should make a big difference to the snappiness of the throttle and the speed of the gearshifts.

Enjoy the car!

Cheers,

Dan

MB 1

519 posts

121 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
Well said on the Sportshift, Dan.

I was a doubter but really like the the one on my V12S. It's involving and you have to use it properly. I had a V8M3 and whilst the dct was effective, it made the car dull to drive. Not so in the Aston.

73RS

67 posts

144 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
Nicely done Aston.
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Richard-G

1,341 posts

111 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
Dan Trent said:
Lucky man, I think you instantly win the argument with that! laugh As you can probably tell I'm conflicted about the aero kit but all power to you - I understand the argument about wanting to make it stand out and it certainly achieves that objective. I love the rest of the package though, especially the shaping on the sides. Much cooler than big vents but I can see why the press office put a load of protective tape on there.

Thanks for bringing the single mass flywheel option to my/our attention too, wasn't aware you could have that and, as you say, that should make a big difference to the snappiness of the throttle and the speed of the gearshifts.

Enjoy the car!

Cheers,

Dan
interesting that its only a few years since Porsche said semi auto only for their 991 based GT models and took with it the endless wrath that the decision bought. However we're now in a era where due to the fact they did it and the race cars themselves are semi auto it seems to be the norm now and I fully understand your reasoning. I guess we look at these sorts of cars and think 'racecar' then watch them burn round La Sarte and Silverstone etc while the driver uses a semi auto box and then fail to see the connection to the three pedals and a gearstick.

I always thought id never go back to manual, but after 12 months in a 4C and now 8 months in an 8 speed auto f type I really miss three pedals and a gearstick.

Finally, the sound of that thing isn't to far removed from the GTE pro racecar!






Dan Trent

1,815 posts

104 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
It's funny isn't it; I huffed self righteously about the GT3 going PDK on here but, with hindsight, I agree and think if you're going to make a direct link between race car and road car it seems a bit of an anachronism to put a manual in it. Manual in the 911 R makes perfect sense. If you could buy one, obviously.

As I said in the story, if I were in the fortunate position to be buying a Vantage for road use an N430 or S with a manual would be lovely. If I'm surrounded by carbon and aero I like the idea of a super aggressive sequential style robo manual to make me feel like I'm in, y'know, a proper racing car.

There's no simple right or wrong about manuals vs. autos/DCTs/robo manuals IMO, it's more fitness for the individual application.

Saying all that I"d love to try a manual Vantage (of any type!) with Cupmeister's lightweight flywheel option!

Cheers,

Dan

CupMeister

Original Poster:

30 posts

61 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
I think the single mass flywheel is actually an option available to any V8 Vantage customers Dan, as it's a dealer fit option (which is a bit weird with the GT8 why can't they factory fit it?) from what I've been told when speaking to the engineers when we were shown the car it's a very worthwhile upgrade and a good tip for anyone looking to sharpen up their Vantage, especially since it's a retro fit from your dealership...

jamespink

1,029 posts

140 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
I saw what I think was this car near the Fosse last week, brutal sound track as it was being "road tested" into the distance! A whole step on from almost any Aston to date...

smilo996

1,449 posts

106 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
Can Dan just right one article without mentioning a Porschar, on this occasion twice. It is so very dull.

"Chuck me the keys to a 911 GT3 RS and I'll happily nip to the shops in a bright orange car with full aero and a giant plank bolted to its back end"

If the GT8 is Mansonry then the GT3 RS is Liberty walk. A Bull Frog that smiles and now with ears. Come on Dan.

Otherwise keep up the good work.

Dan Trent

1,815 posts

104 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
smilo996 said:
Can Dan just right one article without mentioning a Porschar, on this occasion twice. It is so very dull.
Heaven forbid I attempt to put a car in context with a comparison to the most obvious rival product in terms of spirit, performance, target audience, price and exclusivity eh? banghead

If you bothered to read beyond the dreaded 'P' word you'll also note I acknowledged my personal hypocrisy about the wing and eventually concluded Aston Martin was smartly stepping into an area of the market Porsche seems to have abandoned.

Ta,

Dan

Max_Torque

12,895 posts

153 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
What annoys me about this car?

The fact that i build pretty much EXACTLY this car as a demonstrator for AML whilst working at Prodrive/AMR way back in 2006! We hung some ex-race car wings and spoilers on it, with a nice set of EX-TC height adjustable dampers and a set of sticky tyres on some wider wheels.

At the time we were told "no way would we ever make a car looking like this", which i always thought was a bit odd considering the sell-out (sic) nature of certain German products with a G, a T, and a 3 in their title.


So AML, welcome to 2006, again........ ;-)

Max_Torque

12,895 posts

153 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
CupMeister said:
I think the single mass flywheel is actually an option available to any V8 Vantage customers Dan, as it's a dealer fit option (which is a bit weird with the GT8 why can't they factory fit it?) from what I've been told when speaking to the engineers when we were shown the car it's a very worthwhile upgrade and a good tip for anyone looking to sharpen up their Vantage, especially since it's a retro fit from your dealership...
You can't have it (LM F/W) from the Factory because it will screw up the misfire detection OBD which is required for EU type approval. The cost to re-cert for the new Flywheel would have made the project non viable.

Andyt25

1,104 posts

184 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
The Vantage is still after all these years one the best looking cars you can buy...From any angle it looks great, perfectly formed ..... How will they replace it.... and this one....Well pretty with added aggression....Don't care that there are faster cars and it costs £165k.....I want one so badly......

CupMeister

Original Poster:

30 posts

61 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
That'll be why it's dealer fit only then...

Thank you for clarifying Max Torque

DPSFleet

191 posts

97 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
Gosh, huge money for a V8 vantage, methinks I would buy a secondhand V12 instead. Or a 991 GT3....

Guvernator

8,972 posts

101 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
Gone straight to the top of my lottery win track toy list, sorry but I'd take this over a GT3 any day of the week. All the lightweight options, full aero, flywheel and manual for me please, in fact exactly the spec that Cupmiester has gone for, a doff of the hat to your good taste sir. thumbup

Oh and Dan you can keep your "race car" semi-auto, I'm not a racing driver so I'll stick with the slower but infinitely more tactile manual thanks. wink

Edited by Guvernator on Friday 17th June 22:48

peter450

1,650 posts

169 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
It's very nice but it's shame they did so little to the engine, these engines have been taken out to 5 litres and 500 +

Vocht

1,205 posts

100 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
Interesting view of the gearbox. I just watched Steve Sutcliffe's video on the GT8 and he seems to love the gearbox and the car itself. As he points out in the video, yes a Porsche would have been objectively 'better', but why would you care when you have can have the character, charisma and experience of the GT8.

Here's the link for the video. I can't see any petrolhead watching that and not yearn for a chance to even just drive one...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46Gt7fLWoWc

Imo it's THE perfect Sunday blast car!

alolympic

621 posts

133 months

Friday 17th June 2016
quotequote all
I do like Aston Martins, and I bet it is an incredible machine....
But, if that hadn't come out of the factory, and was a result of an owners mods, looking like that, it would pop up in the badly modified thread....