2019 Aston Martin Vantage First Drive: Fun In No Sun

– Portimão, Portugal

The redesigned 2019 Aston Martin Vantage in fluorescent Lime Essence streaks through the gray mist and down the front straight of Portugal’s Algarve International Circuit. Here at the southwesternmost point of Europe, Aston Martin’s stunning volume car and entry point into the brand is $149,995 worth of fun, even when there are puddles on the track.

More aggressive and athletic than its predecessor, which debuted in 2005, the new Vantage’s real mission is to stand apart from the rest of the Aston Martin product line, both visually and dynamically. A sloped shark nose and jutting, three-dimensional grille and lip extensions make for a very serious race face. The low-arching roofline and broad haunches make this front-engined coupe look grid-ready. Press the start button on the reimagined, driver-friendly center stack and the exhaust bark confirms that the Vantage, compared to its longer, softer cousins, is Aston Martin talking smack.

2019 Aston Martin Vantage
2019 Aston Martin Vantage

That gregarious sound emanates from the formidable Mercedes-AMG-sourced biturbo 4.0-liter V8 engine, which makes 503 horsepower and 505 pound feet of torque. This is the second application by Aston Martin of the German mill, the first being the delightful DB11 V8, the Vantage’s larger cousin. The AMG pumps about 80 hp more into the new two-seater than the old V8 GT, and at 3,373 pounds, it carries around about 300 pounds less, for a greatly improved power-to-weight ratio. After beating it around the track, Aston Martin’s...