Tested: 2023 Aston-Martin Vantage F1

Cars

The Aston-Martin Vantage has one of those perfect, chiseled visages evoking some of the perfect humans scattered about Hollywood and its suburbs where the supercar’s weeklong test took place.
2023 Aston-Martin Vantage F1 JOSH MAX

What I especially loved – what I’ve loved about all Aston-Martins I’ve tested since I started driving them in 2004 – is how unlike everything else it is. You’ll never mistake the brand in looks or driving manners for any of the other 6-figure whips made by its Italian and German counterparts. You cannot deny, either, that you connect it in your mind with Mr. Bond. You feel like you’re wearing a $207,686 suit that fits you impeccably. (Base price: $175,200.)

2023 Aston-Martin Vantage F1 JOSH MAX

I also loved that the interior fit a full-sized suitcase, a half-sized suitcase, one acoustic guitar and a backpack into its innards. That’s not always the case with fast, skinny exotics.

Like the Ducati I wrote about two weeks ago, the Vantage was parked each night outside a house high upon a suburban mountain outside Los Angeles, meaning both the two miles up and the mile down had a few corners, occasionally unpaved, that might as well have been U-Turns. At times, going uphill, my hood seemed pointed straight up at the sky. But one manages.

2023 Aston-Martin Vantage F1 JOSH MAX
Under the hood

A V-12, 690 horsepower engine became available to the Vantage lineup this year, but I had the V-8 and it suited my needs. A bit rough getting your hands on the V-12, anyway, as they’re only making 333 of them, but you can always try.

For the F1, my trim, I got a rollicking, T-Rex-ish, twin-turbo 528 horsepower V8 engine, while base trims deliver 503 horsepower. The note is low and growly when you start up and prepare for takeoff, then at full speed you may hear a kind of “scream” from your pipes that’ll make one side of your mouth curl up. The sheer power and creamy, dreamy exhaust is auto-dopamine.

F1 upgrades

The F1 moniker delivers goodies galore like recalibrated suspension, damping, springs and so much more of what you want and need, especially if you visit race tracks. The spoiler and front splitter stand out maybe more than some would like, but you can opt out of them if you really don’t care for them. The F1 Vantage weighs a healthy 3,461 pounds, 88 more than the base coupe.

2023 Aston Martin Vantage F1 ASTON-MARTIN
Interior

Inside, it is of course plush-plush-plush, with hand-stitched and hand-built everything. Visibility is acceptable but not outstanding. I had the full-leather interior, heated and ventilated seats, a carbon-fiber steering wheel, embroidered headrests and so much more. It’s a tight squeeze – best to lay off the desserts if this is your ride. There isn’t much storage for your keys, phone or “other.”

2023 Aston-Martin Vantage F1 JOSH MAX
The drive

It is a beautiful, smooth, luxurious high-end pleasure, of course. I found the turn-ins quick and the fat 21-inch (optional) tires well-equipped to carry out whatever command I threw at them. I did not punish the car very much until dashing up and down one nearby mountain for the express purpose of experiencing the satisfying road-hold, sharp steering and brakes that got better and better as they warmed up. They didn’t just give this car speed – they gave it the components to manage that speed, and direct it with split-second timing.

2023 Aston-Martin Vantage F1 JOSH MAX

This is what’s so satisfying about driving to the store or 150 miles up the coast, for example. You never forget you’re Batman, and no one else does, either – people let you go first, frequently. The (optional) ceramic brakes are a bit grabby on short jaunts but you adjust. An electronically controlled limited-slip differential and adaptive dampers come standard. It does not take bumps all that well, you feel them in your skeleton despite what mode you select for adaptive dampers.

Mileage

It’s better than what you might expect, returning about 20 MPG combined city/highway depending on your driving style.

Complaints

The sound system is rich and satisfying and the air conditioning was solid when I needed it, but the nav sys never did untangle itself going up the mountain, and I just ended up using my phone.

There is no standard shift available, even if you want one. Buttons don’t do it, and the paddles aren’t “shifts.”

2023 Aston Martin Vantage F1 ASTON-MARTIN

The optional carbon fibre racing seats hug you but are thin on their edges – if you try to sit with your feet pointing out the driver’s side door to put your sneakers on after time at the beach, for example, the skinny edge of the captains’ chair will severely dig into your rear end. The skinny edges also make it rough getting in and out, which is no easy feat to begin with either even if you’re an especially fit human.

Safety

Key features include an available 360-degree camera system, blind-spot monitoring, self-parking assist and more.

All minor beefs aside, this was a fantastic, rewarding test. The Vantage F1 will shake you as well as stir you, as it did me.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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