After slicing through fog to reach a rustic lunch stop in a centuries-old villa, I have time to sip a meia de leite—half coffee, half milk—and mull over a sports car that turned two potentially dreary days into something that seemed like brilliant sunshine. Feeling a bit swept away, I figured that Aston's notoriously sky-high pricing might force my feet back onto the ground. Nope: This Aston starts at a not-insignificant $153,081, but judged on style and exclusivity, it's as effectively stunning as most supercars that cost double the price.
And in 180-degree contrast with the original, deeply flawed Vantage, its performance is not merely competitive, but on par with the best in its class. Let’s also underline that this is only Aston’s opening gambit with the Vantage—essentially its base-model version. A Porsche 911 Carrera may start from just $92,000, but that's the lowest-priced of an incredible 24 variants, rising to $220,000 for a GT3 RS Weissach Package. Aston's opening Vantage lands smack in the center of 911 pricing, $10,000 less than a 911 Turbo. It also sits below a Mercedes-AMG GT R Coupe, at $157,995, and the Audi R8 at $166,150. Let's state the obvious: To some people, an Aston Martin will always seem more exotic and desirable than a Mercedes or Audi, irrespective of price or performance. The mid-engine McLaren 570GT comes to mind as a car that's every bit as exclusive (and quicker to boot) but it does cost $35,000 more than the Vantage, priced from $188,600 and easily hitting $225,000 with options.
It sounds silly to call a $150,000 sports car “reasonably priced,” or even a relative bargain, but that’s what we have here. That assessment, obviously, has as much to do with the status and aesthetic of the Aston Martin brand as it does with performance. Sure, you could buy another sports car that’s as fast, maybe even a few clicks faster, for equal or less money. But that car will not look like this Aston Martin, or make crowds swoon like this Aston Martin. For the first time in my lifetime, I’ll say that a like-priced rival won’t even perform quite like this Aston Martin. Hurry, rich people, and pick out a gift for your local Aston dealer—a bottle of Krug would be nice—because this athletic beauty won’t be sitting on showroom floors for long. If that's not rare and special enough, wait and order up a 2020 model with a manual transmission. Can you even imagine this baby with a stick? My right hand, and left foot, are already trembling in anticipation.
Lawrence Ulrich, The Drive’s chief auto critic, is an award-winning auto journalist and former chief auto critic for The New York Times and Detroit Free Press. The Detroit native and Brooklyn gentrifier owns a troubled ’93 Mazda RX-7 R1, but may want to give it a good home. Email him at Lawrence@thedrive.com.
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