LA Auto Show – 2008 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Convertible
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage went on sale in 2005, taking up residence in Aston’s lineup and the bottom end as the “affordable” Aston and gunning for the Porsche 911. As true of most all Aston Martins, the V8 Vantage is beautiful, with a hand-crafted interior and engine. The next step, of course, is a convertible.
Can I have this as my AutoPacific company car? I’d give up my Audi TT for it!
Aston Martin used Los Angeles as a backdrop for introducing their latest breathtakingly gorgeous roadster. Los Angeles is a strong market for Aston Martin, and convertibles as a rule sell in higher volumes than coupes in the States, so the decision to launch in Los Angeles is glamorous and smart. And Aston Martin convertibles command enough attention and carry enough presence that they don’t need a Hollywood starlet like Jennifer Love Hewitt (see the Sebring introduction) to introduce their convertible, though Jennifer’s scripted appreciation for the Sebring might have sounded more believable applied to the Aston. In fact, instead of a paid celebrity endorsement at the press introduction for the V8 Vantage convertible, Automobile Magazine Editor-in-Chief Gavin Conway presented Aston Martin with an All-Star award for the convertible. (For our discussion the full list of this year’s All-Stars, click here.)
Deliveries will begin during the second quarter of 2007. The convertible uses the same powertrain as the coupe, meaning a 380HP 4.3L DOHC 32v V8. With the introduction of the convertible does come Aston’s automated manual transmission called Sportshift, for those looking for a grand touring convertible that takes less work than the standard Graziano six-speed manual. These days many convertibles, and at a variety of price points, take a retractable hardtop solution, the Aston stays with a traditional three-layer softtop. The power-operated top drops or closes at the touch of a button in only 18 seconds, compared with the typical 30-second cycle time of many hardtops. Despite the later introduction, the convertible was developed alongside the coupe, with a sophisticated structure with lots of lightweight alloys and advanced composites.
Within Aston’s lineup, the V8 Vantage is positioned below the DB9 and the flagship Vanquish, and takes on Porsche’s 911. The “affordable” Aston is assembled in Gaydon, U.K., with much of that done by hand. A variety of leather grains and colors can be ordered, but all seats are hand stitched, bodies are hand finished, and the V8 engine is hand assembled. Though final assembly is in the U.K., the engine is assembled in Cologne, Germany.
Pricing will be announced closer to launch. For perspective, the coupe starts around $115,000 and could be considered a bargain for a piece of rolling art. Aston designers were successful in keeping as much of the coupe’s profile when the convertible’s top is up as possible. Though driving with the top down on a terrific day is a truly relaxing and pleasant experience and can justify lots of compromises, the fixed roof Vantage is, to my mind, the prettier of the two.