Robb Report Car of the Year 2008: No. 5 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster

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Soft and Dry.
A car of far less power, heft, and acceleration than even its own factory mates, Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage Roadster is nonetheless a remarkable automobile, one that displays classic looks and offers exciting agility. The car’s design shows traces of Ian Callum’s genius. He created the DB7 and now is working valiantly to reenergize Jaguars. This baby Aston is much more than a decapitated Vantage coupe. It handles more crisply than its hard-lidded sibling, and because it is a convertible, it does much, much more for the image of the driver. The Roadster’s soft top opens and closes in 18 seconds and at speeds as fast as 30 mph—just in case it starts raining while you are between stoplights. —Paul Dean

Paint It Black
Possessing the least potent motor in this high-powered assemblage (a naturally aspirated V-8 that develops 380 hp), the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster served as an appetizer for cars boasting four additional cylinders and as much as 250 more horsepower. Still, sometimes a tasty hors d’oeuvre is all you need to satiate a craving. By dropping its top, the V8 Vantage may have sacrificed some machismo, handling prowess, and bragging rights about lap times around the Nürburgring, but it regains a degree of masculinity by offering a 6-speed manual transmission instead of an automatic. Apart from its ability to let in the sun and the sweet-smelling air of Napa Valley or wherever else it is driven, the Roadster’s best attribute is its muffler’s bypass valve, which opens at 4,000 rpm, creating a dramatic aural accompaniment to the rush of torque. In silver or black or just about anything other than the light blue hue of our test car, the Roadster looks like the serious sports car that it is. —Gregory Anderson

007th Heaven
Like most Aston fare these days, the Vantage coupe is a triumph, but when you remove its top, it loses some of its masculine magic. Nevertheless, this well-executed relation to James Bond’s old machines is an enjoyable car. The shifter is in the perfect position, and it feels great, and the seats are supportive and offer an excellent view of the road. You can cruise along passively below the 4,000 rpm mark, but dip into the throttle, and the car, with an accompanying roar, transforms from Dr. Jekyll to Dr. No. —Marco R. della Cava

Aston Martin, www.astonmartin.com

LAYOUT
Front-engine, rear-wheel drive
ENGINE
4.3-liter V-8
TRANSMISSION
6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic
POWER
380 hp, 302 ft lbs
ZERO-TO-60
4.9 seconds
TOP SPEED
175 mph

BASE PRICE: $127,750
PRICE AS TESTED: $138,795
ROBB REPORT RATING: 84.1

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