Welcome back, readers. Aaron Telitz here, Morrie’s brand ambassador and professional race car driver. I’ve got a fun track review for you today! I was lucky enough to take out the new Aston Martin Vantage at Brainerd International Raceway on a cold and wet day for some good old-fashioned fun!
You can’t help but smile at the look of the new Vantage. It’s got all the right lines in all the right places. And in general, just looks mean sitting there in pit lane. Once on the inside, it keeps looking mean with a racing steering wheel, racing seats and buttons all over the place to make you feel like you’re in a full blown race car! However, once you get your bearings you’ll realize the seats are fully adjustable so whether you’re 6’5 or 5’5 you’ll fit easily and be ready to hit the track in comfort.
I found it a bit of a process to get all the driver aids turned down or off. But getting the car into “Track +” is as easy as turning one of those fancy dials on the dash. You immediately hear a new more throaty tone from the exhaust and a prompt to use the automatic transmission or go manual. I tried both transmission settings just so I could see what I thought about them.
Let’s keep in mind I was doing this track test in 38 degrees and on a damp track. This coupled with the 503 hp twin turbo Mercedes AMG engine that powers the Vantage made for an experience more likened to taming a wild animal!
That AMG engine made a marvelous sound roaring out of the pits. I would say it’s slightly higher pitched than other Mercedes AMG engines I’ve heard. And with no temperature in the tires or track spinning the tires was easy all the way through 4th gear. In the diabolical track conditions, you had to really be on your game to coax some speed out of the Vantage around the corners. Or you could go full teenager be dead sideways everywhere. Either way, it was still a bit of a wrestling match to get the car around the track!
On the plus side, the brakes were actually really good considering the conditions. The pedal feel was excellent and the ABS was really nice and manageable. I also have to admit they did a good job on their Automatic transmission. The programming puts the shifts right where they should be on downshifts and it was even smart enough to upshift a little early in the slippery conditions. I still preferred to choose my own shift points in manual but automatic wasn’t bad!
I’d really like a chance to take this car back out in some decent conditions and see what it can really do. I didn’t get a chance to feel the power and torque because of the very low grip conditions we were dealing with.
Overall it was an absolute riot to drive and definitely not for the faint of heart. You need to really be on top of your driving which I really enjoyed. You just can’t beat that Aston Martin styling and the AMG engine noise. It turned heads every time it went by pit lane and was by far the most photographed car of the day.
So it gets an A+ in appearance but the jury is still out on the rest of the car as I’d need some better conditions to make a final call on where I grade the car.