As stated, looking at the '09 V8 Vantage won't clue you into its superiority over the '08 model-the exterior remains virtually unchanged. Not that it's a bad thing. What's new are 20-spoke, 19-inch alloy wheels as standard running gear. The cockpit-this is one car where the interior cabin can truly be called a cockpit-has been outfitted with a new center console made from die-cast zinc alloy. The ECU key is also new to this model, styled after that of last year's DBS.

Most striking is the car's absolute bulletproof build. You feel indestructible, like you could punch directly through other, lesser cars and leave them twisted and burning in your wake. It's like being behind the controls of a high-velocity projectile discharged from the world's biggest gun. Visually, the Vantage combines overt aggression and tactile elegance like no other modern sports car. Probably the most intoxicating thing about the whole experience is the bellowing roar that explodes out the tailpipes when the tachometer needle swings past 4000.

As history's best-selling Aston, the first Vantage didn't disappoint, although the disparity in price compared to less expensive competitors seemed to be justified mainly in brand prestige and the signature Aston Martin look. With the bump in performance in the new model, it becomes something else entirely, more serious and evermore competitive. Prices haven't been announced yet, but we speculate the new Vantage will be priced in a similar range as the old one, which clocked around $113,000 for the Coupe and $126,400 for the Roadster.

2009 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
*Layout
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

*Engine
4.7-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve

*Transmission
Six-speed manual, optional six-speed Sportshift sequential manual

*Suspension
Double wishbone front and rear, antidive, antisquat, antilift geometry

*Brakes
Four-piston monoblock calipers, ventilated steel rotors

*Dimensions
Length/Width/Height (in.): 172.5/80.0/49.5Wheelbase: 102.5 in.Curb Weight: 3,595 lb

*Performance
Peak Power: 420 hp @ 7000 rpmPeak Torque: 347 lb-ft @ 5750 rpm0-60 mph: 4.7 sec.Top Speed: 180 mph

*What We Like:
Fit and finish, bulletproof build

*What We Don't:
Single-clutch Sportshift clunky in auto mode

Price Tag
$TBA

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