66 Magazine Issue 3 Spring 2018 - Page 55

From behind the wheel, driving the Vantage on ice requires finesse. Remember, this is no all-wheel drive, torque-vectoring, techno-showcase. There are three driving modes: standard, sport and track, but Aston Martin assumes Vantage drivers are fairly capable (clearly not met me, then) and prefer dynamics unsullied by an excess of electronic wizardry. For optimum ‘driving fun’ we have the stability control system deactivated and applying the 4.0-litre twin turbo V8’s 375kW and 695Nm of torque through the rear wheels only. Keeping it pointing in the right direction takes all my concentration as I thread my first slalom, a satisfying rooster tail of snow in my wake. Not that the car is unwieldy, even in these nominal grip circumstances you easily get the sensation of the car’s ideal 50:50 weight distribution. That balance coupled with the Vantage’s short 2705mm wheelbase and lightweight aluminium underpinnings, is all you want from a car when making rapid directional changes. Before long I’m hammer down, feeding the Aston full lock. The sound is epic. A mix of studded tyres scratching violently at the sub-zero surface below, ice and snow peppering the Vantage’s sculptured bodywork and the gruff, forced-induction growl of that V8. Think the bear scene from The Revenant and you’re getting close. The Vantage’s cockpit really is ideal for this type of thing. It’s a more driver-orientated cabin than the GT Above Gleaming Aston, gleaming snow; a perfect combination. Centre Warming up with some slaloms on ice. Left A nice big rooster tail of snow is a rather satisfying sight. Far Left Traction control switched off for maximum angles. variants the marque is well known for. The hunkered- down seating position skewed to sports driving; I’m snugly secured into the seat with press-fit tolerance. The focussed ergonomics let me simply point the car with the steering wheel, rather than brace myself with it during every pendulum motion initiated. After a few increasingly-challenging cone exercises the morning culminates with the drift circle, a 50-metre diameter of solid ice. The aim here is to steer the vehicle almost exclusively with the throttle, keeping steering input to a minimum and, ultimately, finding the sweet spot where you can balance the vehicle at a consistent angle. It takes some getting used to and I instinctively saw at the wheel too much, over rotating the car. My instructor reminds me to be more delicate with my actions and I relax into it. Less throttle with a more consistent application holds that V8 in the thick of its torque range, you can feel the chassis respond with impressive accuracy and steering is now minimal; almost pointing straight ahead. A few attempts and the Vantage is gliding effortlessly in a beautiful, sustained drift. I could return home quite satisfied with that, but the chopper and the DBS await. Onward, then, to Highlands Motorsport Park. Right In these slippery conditions, the Vantage’s 50:50 weight distribution is noticeable. 66 MagAzine SPRING 2018 53