By Maggie Barry on 2018-11-12 - Experienced car journalist.
Reivers steal the
I FELTsomething of areiver as my car snarled and growled its way across the border from England into Scotland.
The lookout point was deserted and we could see the land for miles around. But this was no social visit. There was work to do and this car was the beast in which to do it.
It had taken us a while to measure its mettle but now at ground zero we were about to discover just how aggressive it could be.
"This car is a hunter- predator - it has a much lower pronounced nose and it's quite special. It is an out and out sports car," said Phil Eaglesfield boss of of Aston Martin UK as he introduced the Vantage to us earlier that day at our base in a former bishop's house in the medieval conservation village of Blanchland.
"It has the same engine as the DB 11 Volante but it ‘s quite different in nature and you can even hear it by the sound."
The sound was raucous. When my sidekick switched on the engine it roared back at us waking up any lingering priestly ghosts.
Beside it the DB11 Volante watched and waited, a gentleman by comparison but we would see. Later.
The pair are two of the three core models - the third is the DB S - making up Aston Martin's new aggressive foray into the market with their Second Century Plan to deliver a whole new range of exciting sports cars each one with its own character and personality.
It also includes the company's first SUV the DB X which we will get to see in 2020, the all-electric Rapide-E with a 200 mile range and the rebirth of the Lagonda name which will come to epitomise Aston Martin's status as a luxury brand. In the future it will also be affiliated to autonomous cars within the company.
The Vantage is long and lean - and wide - very wide. It boasts the signature straight Aston Martin grille but it sits low and mean. The lines sweep back to wide powerful haunches with a rear spoiler that activates at between 60 and 80mph. I hoped we would have to use it.
The rear fastback swings open high and wide leaving enough room for two sets of golf clubs and some luggage though to my knowledge reivers never played golf.
The interior in chestnut tan leather was without a glovebox but we ignored that as we tackled the sat nav, considered the controls including the heated seats, and opted to stay in sport mode as we set off, with an armoury that included sport+ and track modes should we need them.
Blanchland takes its name from the French order of the White Canons who once lived there and the beautiful blond stone of the estates and buildings dates back to the 12 century.
In more recent times the Abbot's guest house, known for its hospitality, served as a public house for lead miners drawn to the area for work, but is now the Lord Crewe, a rather lovely historic hotel.
Even more interesting for us were the amazing roads around it through the fells and dales which we now leapt into as we headed north to the Scottish border, plundering, yes, but the heights and depths of this car.
On long straight roads we powered on pushing the car through the drive modes arriving at one precipitous blind summit after another. "Shall we take off?" queried my co-driver as we roared up to the third in a row with the nose pointed skywards.
"No," I cried. "Onward to Scotland. Freedom."
We toured the North Pennines venturi never shy and always highly visible in the Hyper Red colour of our livery and the amazing sound of the 4.0-litre V8 engine with 510ps.
At the border we took stock and with only 15 miles to the end of our journey we put the foot down and tested the metal as we turned south and headed towards the military town of Otterburn.The Vantage has a top speed of 195mph and I can testify now that it does 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds.
The DB 11 makes the same sprint in a scant four seconds - but imagine that with the roof down.
And where the Vantage was the bad boy, the Volante was smooth, elegant and stylish. It came in Pearl Blonde and as one blonde to another I just loved driving this car.
The roof can be raised or lowered en route at speeds of up to 30mph and with fortune favouring us we had it downfor the whole of our 70 plus mile journey as we plunged through tunnels of trees in their autumn colours.
The nose of the Volante sits higher and therefore friendlier than the Vantage with the roof cleverly disappearing into a 260mm deep cavity ensuring the car retains its grace.
Inside it has 2+2 seats - the Vantage has a straight two -in beautiful black leather with silver stitching although Aston now have a palette ofmore than 35 colours for personalising your interior which you can also specify with Alcantara.
The Volante emits a lovely low sound which belies its top speed on 187mph in either GT mode, Sport or Sport +.
It is less of a hooligan to drive than the Vantage but then I alsoknow quite a few people who prefer a hooligan when it comes to cars.
For me it was everything as car should be and more - smooth and well balanced and very biddable for such a powerful performer. Also sadly, it is more expensive than the Vantage at a basic Â£159,900 compared to the Vantage's Â£120,900.
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