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Aston Martin Vantage AMR

The latest James Bond spy romp, No Time to Die, showcases an array of Aston Martins, including the vintage DB5, with which he is so closely associated. Perhaps that’s because the British marque is in the midst of a massive product offensive with fully seven different models in the pipeline, including its first sport utility vehicle. But loyalists needn’t worry.

The mix includes the classic sports cars and grand touring models Aston is known for. A test drive of the Vantage AMR ($183,000 to $200,000) proves you still get bravado performance and head-turning styling for your money. Tapping the start button, this limited-edition Vantage, with its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 (the base version has an automatic transmission and goes for $152,000), comes to life with a basso profundo roar.

Shifting into drive elicits an immediate sense of power like a racehorse anxious to get out of the gate. The AMR model makes an impressive 503 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. Perhaps surprisingly, that’s actually 44 pound-feet fewer than the base model. That’s because the engineers had to tame the beast a bit to go with the AMR’s row-your-own, six-speed manual transmission. But a lighter weight results in essentially no difference in real world performance.

It makes 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and tops out at 195 miles per hour. The manual gearbox likely won’t be for everyone—especially with its unusual shift pattern—but it’s the closest you can come to classic sports car driving. And the AMR’s steering proves uncanny, its grip confidence-inspiring. Even in the tightest switchbacks it is entirely predictable.

While performance and handling clearly matter, this coupe has lots more going for it. The sensuous exterior design pairs with a sleek and elegantly appointed cabin. If anything disappoints—just a bit—it’s the infotainment system borrowed from Mercedes (which also provides the Vantage’s V-8). It’s the last-generation system, rather than the new MBUX technology. But it’s a minor gripe that does little to spoil the experience of spending time with one of the best new sports cars on the market.

In today’s world, the new DBX SUV is all but bound to become Aston’s best-seller. But it’s classic models like the Vantage that rightfully define the brand.

Visit astonmartin.com

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