Power in the 4.7-liter aluminum V8 is up marginally, from 420 to 430 horsepower, while torque rises from 346 to 361 lb-ft compared with the base Vantage. New mufflers, improved intake airflow, and new programming that keeps the exhaust system's bypass valves open longer are responsible for the power increases. The engine upgrades, along with a weight savings of 100 pounds, help the car rocket from zero-to-60 mph in about 4.0 seconds.
Though fuel economy isn't much of a concern in this segment, it's worth noting that the Vantage S is rated at 14 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.
Unfortunately, those hoping for a manual gearbox must look elsewhere. The V8 Vantage S, unlike the normal Vantage, is only available with a seven-speed Graziano automatic that makes do with a single clutch. Many of Aston's competitors switched to dual clutch designs years ago. The transmission routes power through a limited slip rear differential. Tires are upgraded to Bridgestone Potenzas, 245/40 at the front and 285/35 at the rear, riding on 19-inch cast aluminum wheels.
The standard brakes are up-sized for duty in the V8 Vantage S, with 15-inch front rotors clamped by six-piston calipers and 13-inch rear rotors with four-piston calipers. The rotors are vented and grooved for improved performance.
Visually, the car is differentiated from its lesser siblings by V12 Vantage-inspired rockers, decklid, and front and rear fascias. Only the most astute Aston aficionados will be able to spot the differences from the base model, however.
Dynamic revisions to the V8 Vantage S include quickened steering rack ratio of 15:1 compared to 17:1 on the standard car along with more aggressively tuned springs and dampers. Other additions include a new dynamic stability control (DSC) system specifically tuned to the Vantage S along with a new brake module with features such as Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA), which provides assistance in emergency braking situations, and Hill Start Assist (HSA).
Standard interior features include a full grain leather interior throughout, embroidered "Vantage S" seat and carpet logos, an Iridium Silver center console with Graphite inner finish, organic electroluminescent displays, a weave alloy fascia trim, an HDD navigation system, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and much more.
Standard audio arrives in the form of a 160-watt Aston Martin audio system with six-CD changer, iPod integration and USB connector.
Options include special lightweight seats (Not available in North America due to the lack of side airbags), front memory seats and mirrors, alternative fascia finishes, an alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, auto-dimming mirrors, a healthy 700-watt Aston Martin Premium Audio system with Dolby Pro Logic II, or a 1,000 (!) watt Bang & Olufsen Beosound audio system, and the quintessentially British "boot mounted umbrella."
All V8 Vantage S models are fitted with dual front and front side airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
Though it offers a unique combination of agile handling and British charm, the V8 Vantage S faces stiff competition from more modern rivals like the Porsche 911 Carrera S, the Audi R8 and high-end variants of the Jaguar F-Type.