There’s no way around it. Something’s not right with the 2021 Aston Martin Vantage. And what would James Bond have to say about it?
Sean Connery as Agent 007 was often portrayed escaping from criminals and saving the world while driving an Aston Martin. But how could anything but perfection be the vehicle of choice for the epitome of espionage elegance?
Bond film aficionados know the secret agent often drove an Aston Martin DB5 in films, although the tuxedo-wearing purveyor of cool drove other models, including the Vantage.
2021 Aston Martin Vantage: Pricey Options
As awkward as it may read, the Vantage is the British carmaker’s entry-level vehicle with a top-line price of about $200,000. The MSRP is $147,000 and all the options, including a literal reality check of $3,086 for handling and transportation, bring the tally to $199,086.
The 2021 edition includes all that’s right with Aston Martin. The Vantage coupe shares an eye-catching exterior design with its more expensive siblings. For the first time, it has a power soft top. It folds flush behind twin roll bars, meaning a cover isn’t required. It retracts and raises in less than seven seconds, which the carmaker claims is the fastest-operating cloth roof in the industry.
With its top-down and the rear glass screen and the side windows up, the Vantage Roadster is at its best. But here’s where things go askew. Operating the soft top is among the vehicle’s oddities. Why is the actuator button located low on the inside of the driver’s door? It’s an area usually reserved for levers to release the trunk, engine hood or fuel door.
The Vantage Roadster is equipped with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 503 horsepower and 505 pound-feet of torque. It accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, a thrill best experienced while shifting gears on a country road on a warm, sunny afternoon and with the top down. Exhilarating driving freedom is what Aston Martin is all about in Sport, Sport+ and Track modes.
It’s still enjoyable accelerating through the vehicle’s eight-speed automatic transmission. But that’s the only way available. The Vantage coupe has a manual transmission option, so why not the roadster? Large paddle shifters are standard but they’re positioned awkwardly behind the steering wheel.
Start-stop engine systems aren’t new, and the idea of cutting an engine to reduce fuel consumption and emissions is keen. But the Aston Martin accomplishes the task abruptly. Nothing’s wrong when the system engages, but it always seems like something’s awry.
The center console stack of gear selectors is arranged in an arch with the engine button at the center top. Several passengers commented it has the look of an airplane cockpit. The gearing is convenient, albeit with a learning curve.
Most annoying, while cornering in tight areas or making u-turns, the Vantage has a noticeable tire rub, as if the wheels are negotiating a short section of bumps.
Aston Martin vehicles have won the 24 Hour of LeMans and the carmaker has endured seven bankruptcies. Its lineup defines exterior and interior automotive beauty. What other manufacturer has cars of such zoftig proportions that simultaneously look stealth? What other carmaker makes its leather-wrapped navigation screen look so classy?
Own an Aston Martin and anonymous driving is unlikely. The Vantage Roadster is a sight to behold. The Optima font used in Aston Martin’s logo is perfect. The choice of a Ceramic Blue Metallic exterior matched with a Copper Tan leather interior radiates.
Still, if James Bond drove the current edition, all wouldn’t be well. A few of the franchise’s movies may have ended differently.
Article Last Updated: March 16, 2021.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.