Nothing beats a good autumn Saturday morning blast, especially when the 100Club calls with an invite to their inaugural Cars & Coffee and what better way to arrive than in the Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition. Tucked away in the heart of Warwickshire, the 100Club is based in the all new Clubhouse at Henry’s Car Barn. HCB is an automotive mecca and the barn is full of some super cool cars, some of which featured at the Cars & Coffee: Jenson Button’s F1 Championship winning car, a selection of Porsches such as the JCR GT2RS MR, the newly launched 911k from Tuthill, a Bugatti EB110 and some very well specified Ferraris were all on display around the yard.
Our morning started with the rumble of the matte white Vantage’s 4l Twin-Turbo V8. Admittedly, a wet autumn morning and a rear wheel drive, 530hp track monster is not the best recipe for driving confidence but it will definitely make sure you are awake. The car is a tribute to the F1 safety car, which we have all seen leading a pack of F1 cars at speed around some of the most technical race tracks around the globe, and comes as Aston Martin takes the contract for the Safety and Medical car’s in F1 from Mercedes.
Although the Vantage shares a lot of parts with its safety car predecessor, the AMG GT, it is a very different beast. The car has had a makeover from its standard form, starting with the exterior styling, the new addition of the rear wing and canards on the front bumper shout “track focused” before you even press the start button. The car is available in three colours, Black, White and Aston Martin Racing Green, which makes it pretty much an F1 safety car for the road. With all this F1 talk, you would expect the car to be littered with liveries and logos, but Aston has approached this with their usual sophistication, as there are only three F1 badges, one on each wing and one on the centre console. To the average eye, the car is just a more muscular Aston Martin Vantage but to F1 fans and serious drivers, the discreet branding confirms the suspicion that this car is anything but a normal Vantage.
On the road, you can tell the Vantage has been refined to become track-focused. It is super responsive and has been engineered with an incredible traction control system that has just the right amount of give to make you feel like Seb Vettel before reminding you that you are by no means a racing driver. The slight update in power over the standard Vantage is welcomed and in track mode the car is tack sharp, from our time in the car it is clear it would be great fun on the track. The sound from the V8 is nothing but sensational. Low down in the revs, the car is quiet and incredibly drivable, but the slightest touch of the throttle releases a thunderous roll that reminds you that you are very much in a supercar.
At the 100Club Cars & Coffee we were in good company and the team at HCB had curated an amazing selection of cars to support the event. They had gathered the only Valkerie Spider in the UK along with an immaculate DB4 to showcase the past, present and future of the Aston Martin brand. As we left around midday the autumn sun came out to dry the wet roads and the Vantage came to life once again. With dry roads ahead of us we got to see what all of the refinements had to offer. The car is such a head-turner, the subtle design differences over the standard Vantage are really tasteful and make it feel unique, combine that with the engineering tweaks and you have got something truly special. Struggling to get an order slot for a Porsche GT3? Try the F1 Vantage, I promise you - you won't be disappointed.
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