The new Vantage may well be the most complete two-seater to emerge from Aston Martin
Aston Martin's new Vantage point The Aston Martin Vantage is sublimely balanced, with excellent road-holding. ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG

A good sports car embodies, above all, purity. And each brand interprets that purity - whether in design or performance - in its own way, which may evolve over time.

In the case of Aston Martin's new Vantage - easily the most radical production car to emerge from Gaydon, Britain - it starts with simple lines flowing over a low, wide body.

There are hardly any kinks or breaks interrupting its fluid form. No garish grille or dramatic headlights to adulterate the car's wind-swept silhouette. No protruding door handles.

And whatever aerodynamic features there are, they are unobtrusive, appearing as part of a bigger picture, rather than flashing like neon signs on the Las Vegas Strip.

Inside, the message is consistent. Rich, stitched leather is the dominant theme, giving the cabin a traditional sports car ambience. It is minimalist, with an emphasis on functionality.

Some might prefer a traditional shift lever instead of buttons. Or airconditioning vents which are more elaborate. Or seatbelts with automatic extenders.

Then again, part of the Vantage's charm lies with its almost kit-car feel. Purity.

And it conveys that purity in the way it moves too. Equipped with a Mercedes-AMG 4-litre biturbo V8 engine paired with an eight-speed gearbox with paddles, the frontengined, rear-wheel-driven two-seater delivers driving pleasure while demanding little effort from the driver.

It is quick and fast, but not blindingly so. In the default Sport mode, there is a good measure of civility to go with its wide power band.

Gear changes happen without drama and the car piles on speed briskly but sanely.

The tempo picks up in Sport+ and you hear the V8's burble more clearly. The engine is allowed to rev harder before the transmission shifts up. Downshifts are accompanied by a low exhaust rumble.

In Track mode, the Vantage drops its kid gloves and turns into a fire-breathing machine. It screams from one gear to the next, with its exhaust boom peppered generously with a series of crackles and pops.

It is a soul-stirring soundtrack that is natural and unique, unlike some of the over-the-top, manufactured noises out there.

Track mode is almost too fast to use in the city, but it is still usable, despite pared-down traction control, and revs at giddying heights.

The car is sublimely balanced, with excellent road-holding. Its ride is decidedly firm, even in the softest damper setting.

This may make the Vantage less enticing on long hauls, but sets it up brilliantly for high jinks around wide arcs and even tighter turns. Steering is super quick and precise, without the associated heft or twitchiness.

The car brakes as swiftly and as effortlessly as it blasts off. The only niggle lies with the car's thick A-pillars, which hamper visibility. Thankfully, it comes with a 360-degree camera system, which is a boon to parking.

On the whole, the Vantage is as easy to live with daily as the Porsche 911, offers better ergonomics than a McLaren 570 and is occasionally more emotional than the Ferrari 488.

At the same time, it is like no other racer, offering its own English brand of visual, aural and visceral purity - even if it has a German heart.