The Aston Martin Vantage is a combination of elegance and athleticism

SINGAPORE (Oct 14): Making sublime sports cars that also ooze class and sophistication is not as easy as it sounds. There are few supercar brands that produce amazing sports cars, and they can be more about crass than class, lacking panache and style.

A few brands come close but lack that all-important heritage. Aston Martin is in that elusive bracket — with a long history of making drop-dead gorgeous cars fit for royalty, the social elite and a certain British spy (James Bond).

This is a reputation that Aston Martin fiercely protects every time it brings out a new model. So, with the launch of the new Vantage, I was quietly confident it would live up to its billing. But, of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, or, in this case, the driving.

On looks alone, you are staring at a piece of mechanical art. The Vantage features long, fluid curves up and down its sleek body, giving it a sense of elegance mixed in with athleticism. It must be one of the most beautiful cars I’ve seen this year. New head and tail lights form dramatic new signatures, giving the Vantage unmistakable road presence and contribu­ting to a strong identity. This is important, as the Vantage faces tough competition within Aston Martin’s range that already includes the equally beautiful DB11 and DBS Superleggera.

This sublime two-seater is not just about good looks, though. Aston Martin also had the clear goal of making it go extremely fast around race tracks. Aerodynamic performance was central to the Vantage design concept and gave the added benefit of improving it aesthetically.

The front splitter directs airflow underneath the car, where a system of fences channels cool air where it is needed. The design of the diffuser creates an area of low pressure air, which prevents turbulence from the rear wheels. This allows the Vantage to almost glide around a track, or any kind of tarmac for that matter.

This downforce gives you a much better chance to control the power of the car at high speeds. This is a very powerful car with a thunderous 503bhp and 685Nm of torque at your disposal, so the more control the better. The Vantage will get you from 0 to 100kph in 3.6 seconds, so you can easily satisfy your inner boy racer and practise your quick getaways, pretending that you are 007 in one of his heart-thumping car chases.

Put the car in Sport Plus or Track mode, and things really start to liven up. The noise is electrifying and the sensation is spine-tingling as you start to push the Vantage. It will never slip your mind that you are driving a V8, twin-turbocharged four-litre engine. For the first time on an Aston Martin, the new Vantage features an Electronic Rear Differential. This differential is linked to the car’s electronic stability control system, so it can understand the car’s behaviour and react accordingly.

Alongside this impressive show of speed, control and agility, the Vantage offers an extremely high level of luxury and comfort inside. When you part with $700,000 for a car like this, expectations are high that everything you touch and view will be the highest-quality leathers, suedes and other premium materials. The choice of trims and colours are some of the best I’ve seen within Aston Martin’s range, and unique to the brand. You definitely won’t see these sorts of trims and colour combinations elsewhere.

The technology also befits a car worth more than half a million bucks, with cameras, parking assists and sensors at your service. Little things like the rotary infotainment control knob and signal indicator particularly stand out. For such features, Aston Martin joined forces with Daimler (owner of Mercedes-Benz) as part of a technical partnership agreement struck in 2013. The Daimler partnership is also to be thanked for the twin-turbocharged AMG V8 power plant.

While you can’t see it, the chassis is an evolution of the latest generation of bonded aluminium structures first seen on the DB11. This translates into superior balance, strength, rigidity and weight efficiencies, which were all priorities in the new Vantage design. Add on the new Pirelli P Zero tyres developed specifically for the new Vantage, and you get one of the smoothest drives you will ever experience. While Aston Martin may be synonymous with James Bond, it would be so unfair to let only British spies drive this new Vantage.

Aston Martin Vantage

$699,000 without COE

Engine: 3,982cc, V8, twin-turbocharged

Power/torque: 503bhp/685Nm

Fuel consumption: 10.3L/100km

0 to 100kph: 3.6 seconds

Top speed: 314kph

Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a passion for all things fast