Aston Martin is going through something of a renaissance and is working hard to bridge the disconnect between how its cars look and how they drive.
“If you take our cars from [the] early 2000s up until the four we replaced, to drive them, there’s a great character differentiation,” said Miles Nurnberger, creative director of exterior design at Aston Martin. “But the look and feel of the cars didn’t necessarily mirror the character that you felt when you drove them.”
To remedy this, as the English automaker overhauls its entire product range, they’re also dramatically changing the look of each nameplate. “I like the phrase WYSISYG, What You See is What You Get,” said Nurnberger. “So, if it is a sports car rather than a GT car, then it should look like it.”
And that right there is why the 2019 Aston Martin Vantage is so much more aggressively styled than the DB11, its statelier sibling. But there are many more design secrets about this car to be uncovered.
6. It’s an Animal
“And it’s funny, actually, because when I describe… [the DB11] I would talk about human characteristics. Generally, with this [Vantage], it’s animalistic characteristics we talk about,” said Nurnberger while walking me around his brand new baby. “So, kick of the tail at the back… peacock feathers up,” he said, a far different look.
In stark contrast, Nurnberger said, “DB11 is the gentleman and it wears its head high, its nose is slightly in the air. Clean line off the back, like that of a butler or an Eaton boy.” In comparison, the Vantage is far more aggressive, with its snout to the ground, sniffing the trail of its quarry.
“And that was a real fundamental thing,” said Nurnberger. “Drive a DB9 or a DB11 and you see a car in the distance you think about the bottle of red wine you’re going to have tonight. Drive one of these [Vantage], you have to hunt, you have to catch the thing, you know?”
SEE ALSO: 2019 Aston Martin Vantage Review
5. Windows to the Soul
Lingering at the Vantage’s prow for a moment longer, Nurnberger touched on its unusually trim headlamps. “The eyes… are a lot more pursed, they’re basically looking into the distance while DB11 has a long, elegant eye. This one, because it’s sort of looking in the distance, is smaller.”
And that reductionism was a key theme of the new Vantage’s design. “The other thing about smaller, smaller is lighter, and we’re building a sports car,” he added. “We [were] like, smaller-lighter-better, smaller-lighter-better. Everything we could do.” In fact, the car’s optional forged wheels went through a whopping 20 design iterations to make them as trim as possible without sacrificing necessary strength.
4. Less is More
Making the new Vantage as light as reasonably possible drove numerous other changes around its body. “So, traditionally we’ve had a metal side strake,” Nurnberger pointed out. “Again, this is a hunter so if you evolve the hunter, the hunter doesn’t want to carry that piece of metal.” For visual appeal without added mass or complexity, designers instead formed the strakes right into the door skins, providing a clean look. “So, the strake is now a piece of sculpture on the side of the car,” he said.
Beyond this, Nurnberger added, “We did a lot of work with this car in terms of taking away lots of little things that you don’t really notice.” One example of this is the window seals, which have been hidden beneath the exterior door skins so you don’t see them, giving the Vantage an unadorned look.
“And another little thing,” said Nurnberger. “We do what we call infinity shuts. So… we joggle the panel so the shut line for the boot (trunk) is there, but you never look into it.” He admitted these are features people are unlikely to notice, but they make the overall design so much cleaner.
3. Pushing My Button(s)
As good as the new Aston Martin Vantage looks and as well as it drives, the car still isn’t perfect, but then again, what is? One annoying feature, or rather, lack thereof, is the trunk release. You can pop the boot’s lid using either a button next the power-window switches or with the key fob, but regrettably, there’s no external release, something that drove me batty during testing while having to constantly grab camera equipment from the cargo hold.
“This has been an interesting journey for us because we used to have an exterior trunk release, which everyone complained about,” said Nurnberger. “So, we decided to remove it. And on removal, everyone wants something back.” They’re looking at reviving this little convenience in some form, but with a hearty laugh, he added, “Yeah, we’ve lost both ways. I’ll be very honest with you.”
2. Breaking New Ground
Moving rearward on our walkaround, Nurnberger explained the finer points on one of his favorite parts of the 2019 Vantage. “On the back of the car then, we have a very, very different signature,” he said. Previous generations had a boomerang-shaped tail-lamp design, something still found on the DB11. Instead, the Vantage’s rear lights are comprised of a narrow strip that kicks up in the middle, mirroring the grille design up front.
“I think that’s one of the bits I’m very proud of actually, the rear end of this car, particularly when you see it move down the road,” added Nurnberger. “[I like] how thin and elegant that graphic is, and immediately identifiable as well, which is great.”
Beyond this, the Vantage’s aft diffuser is also fully functional, something that Nuernberg said was “a massive point of contention” during product development. “So many diffusers on cars don’t do anything,” he noted. “So, all those fences, they were hard fought [and] hard won.”
1. Room to Spare
Despite its trim overall dimensions, the 2019 Aston Martin Vantage is surprisingly spacious inside, especially compared to its confining predecessor. “This is taken straight from the good work on DB11, so it’s sort of leapt four generations practically within Aston Martin,” said Nurnberger, “It’s a massive step forward.”
Helping give the cabin an airy feel, he explained the interior door panels have been carved out. “When you’re driving quickly on track, you don’t actually move your elbows much, but you want the feeling that you can.” There’s plenty of space for flailing inside the Vantage if you so desire, there’s also plenty of headroom.
“A lot of our VPs are six-foot-two, six-foot-five,” said Nurnberger, who’s a couple inches north of six feet himself. So, during development, they ensured these lanky executives could fit comfortably. Thanks to new seat tracks with extra travel, he noted that shorter drivers should also be more comfortable in the Vantage.
“I think as a team we’re very proud… of the package space that we got in the same basic dimensions,” said Nurnberger. “So, how much more efficient our body structures are than where we were, with a weight save as well.”
Even though he was reticent to pick a favorite child, of all the cars he’s worked on Nurnberger said, “I think Vantage has a special place.”
Discuss this story on our Luxury Lifestyle Forum