Aston Martin's Vantage could be the vehicle that beats Porsche

Aston Martin has revealed the car it hopes will punish Porsche.

The Aston Martin Vantage is also the car Daniel Ricciardo could soon be driving in his European home of Monaco.

As a Red Bull Aston Martin Formula 1 driver the West Australian gets to drive some of the fastest things on four wheels.

But in his downtime he also gets the use of one of the sexiest road cars on the planet, an Aston Martin road car.

The sleek two-seater is a car Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer describes as "the Aston Martin pure driving machine enthusiasts have been waiting for".

Shark attack

Aston Martins have long been about the look and the Vantage doesn't disappoint – albeit ushering in the biggest visual change for the brand in decades.

Fractionally longer and wider than the car it replaces, the Vantage boasts a sleek, squat stance that screams speed.

But it's the evolution of the classic Aston Martin look that characterises the look.

The familiar cathedral grille remains and is the centrepiece of a clean, uncluttered nose that is more about clean shapes and a clamshell bonnet than aggression.

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Aston Martin says it was inspired by a shark, complete with eyes spaced far apart.

Crisp lines flow down the side of the car past the 'gills', a contrasting air vent behind each front wheel that reduces pressure in the wheel arches, one of many aerodynamic details.

Rear guard action

The rear adds aggression, with an integrated wing and a slimline LED tail light running the width of the car.

There's also a finned diffuser underneath that claims to create downforce, effectively sucking the car to the road for better high speed cornering grip and stability.

The winged Aston Martin badge is joined on the tail by the name of the company spelled out below, a move to ram home the brand in some countries, such as China.

AMG heart

While the exterior is pure Aston Martin the Vantage's heart comes from the AMG division of German brand Mercedes-Benz.

The 4.0-litre V8 that powers cars such as the AMG GT and E63 is stuffed way back in the engine bay of the Vantage; it's so far back the car must be close to being classified as mid-engined.

With two turbochargers positioned on top of the engine between the V power is a stonking 375kW and it's backed up with 685Nm of torque.

It drives through an eight-speed transaxle auto (the transmission is mounted between the rear wheels).

There's also an electronic diff, which relies on the stability control system and can lock up in milliseconds to apportion drive between the left and right rear wheels.

Sound off

Aston Martin says that's enough to launch the aluminium-bodied two-seater to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds.

That's plenty faster than the previous Vantage – even the most powerful V12-powered model – and faster than the 911 GTS, arguably the Vantage's closest rival.

But it's the noise of that V8 that best defines the Vantage; we haven't driven in it but we've sat in it, started in and given it a decent rev for good measure.

There's a guttural bark the moment you fire the engine, one that lowers an octave once you select Sport+ mode (the standard mode is Sport or there's Track).

Blip the throttle and things are amplified, with some beautifully timed pops and cracks to ram home the whole performance theme.

Practical stuff

Being a sports car, by definition the Vantage is compromised on space.

It's strictly a two-seater, for example. Except there's more room inside thanks to the bigger body.

The boot swallows up to 350 litres of luggage and there's some storage behind the seats.

Some Aston trademarks remain – the pushbutton gear selector, for example – and mingles with the occasional Mercedes button or controller.

Sales force

To be priced from about $300,000 the Vantage is planned to propel Aston Martin to record sales while still ensuring the exclusivity that local boss Kevin Wall hopes will tempt some Porsche owners out of their beloved 911s.

As it was more than a decade ago the 911 is the prime target for the Vantage; Porsche typically sells 400-500 annually in Australia, and Aston wants a slice of the action.

The Vantage will be the top selling Aston Martin and is planned to propel the brand beyond 200 sales in Australia annually.

The chosen few

It doesn't go on sales until 2018 but the sales pitch for the Vantage kicked off last month when Aston Martin secretly flew one of the first examples to Australia for private viewings.

Small groups of owners and would-be owners – the latter group including owners of rival cars including Porsche 911s – were invited to see the car, even allowed to sit in it and listen to its new V8.

It also included who Wall refers to as "lapsed" Aston Martin owners: people who've previously owned a Vantage, for example, but have switched to something newer in the long wait for a new model.

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