V8 Vantage – the Farewell Review

Ottawa Fall Colors '09 #78 by rdonovan
Ottawa Fall Colors ’09 #78, a photo by rdonovan on Flickr.

I admit it. Jeremy Clarkson was right. Those who bought the V8 Vantage would probably just end up wishing they buying a DB9. I can now count myself in that boat, having worked a trade of my V8 Vantage for a DB9.

There are many things to like about the Vantage. First, the sound. It sounds like a proper sports car. Nothing else sounds like it. Second, the handling – it’s brilliant and like playing a video game. You can feel every nuance of the road.

The performance is very good – but you have to push the car psychotically hard to get at it. This is a matter of preference. I am in the camp where I would prefer something more fluidly available.

The lack of front park distance control makes parking a challenge. As you can’t see a bloody thing out the front. But the sie makes fitting into narrow spaces a breeze.

However, what absolutely, totally did it for me was the transmission. It is an Italian-designed F1 paddle-shift with computer controlled clutch. And it’s horrible.

Yes, it can shift in milliseconds. But that isn’t that useful in every day life. The fact that the clutch burns and grinds in parking lot or stop-and-go-traffic is annoying. Even more annoying is when you can’t get at the gear you want.

More annoying still is stopping – and starting – while you agonizingly wait for the clutch to engage. And hope it does before the car coming in the opposite direction nails you. Or, when it engages – it ENGAGES and you are off with a huge streak of burning rubber.

But what absolutely did it was a catastrophic failure to proceed leaving the car stuck in neutral – and a $550 towing bill to get it to the dealer in Montreal from Ottawa. And finding out this kind of failure isn’t at all uncommon. And costs $10K+ to rectify out of warranty.

So with a year left on the warranty, it’s time to find something else. And that something else will be a DB9 – with an automatic. The Vantage is a great car – but if you get one, get a 6-speed.

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