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Car and Driver: Aston Vantage GT8 Is Lighter, More Expensive—and Not Coming Here

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Aston Martin Vantage GT8. April 2016Photo: Drew GibsonLet’s start with the bad news: The Aston Martin Vantage GT8 is one of those cars that the capricious gods of automotive homologation choose to deny us, there being no plans to offer it in the U.S. market. Which is a shame since–radioactive color scheme and stratospheric pricetag aside–this could well be the finest road-going version of Aston’s long-lived sports car.

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The GT8 comes hot on the heels of the announcement of the U.S.-specific V8 GTS version, and also the welcome confirmation that the V12 Vantage S will be offered with a seven-speed manual gearbox, so we shouldn’t feel too left out. Also, buyers in those parts of the world where the GT8 is offered will be asked to dig deep for the privilege of buying one of only 150 cars to be built. We’ve only got UK pricing, but British buyers are expected to find £165,000 including taxes–and that’s without various extra-cost options. That’s $233,000 at current exchange rates, and a 70 percent bump over the cost of a European-spec V8 Vantage S. Exclusivity isn’t cheap.

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To be fair, the GT8 is far more than just badges and a body kit, with the extensive use of carbon-fiber panels, a wider track and what Aston promises will be a the sharpest-handling chassis ever given to a road-going Vantage, it is in essence a smaller brother for last year’s V-12 powered Vantage GT12.  Both looks and aerodynamics draw inspiration from the Vantage GTE that competes in the World Endurance Championship race series, including the radioactive paint scheme of the GT8 that Aston unveiled in a presentation at the Silverstone race track in England. Other, more modest, color combinations are available for those who don’t like to don their shades before opening the garage door.

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Aston Martin_Vantage GT8_06

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Carbon components include the bumpers, front fenders, splitter and diffuser as well as the sills, with the cutaway front wheel arch inspired by the GT8’s racing sister. This cutaway purportedly improves both aerodynamics and cooling. (The rear wing in these images comes as part of an optional Aero Pack). Other weight-saving measures include carbon door trim inside the cabin, carbon sport seats and a lightweight lithium-ion battery. The car has not been completely stripped out, though, retaining its climate control, an audio system and Aston’s recently improved infotainment and navigation system.

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But to achieve Aston’s claimed weight saving of 100 kg (220 pounds), buyers will also have to tick boxes on the order form for lightweight wheels, a carbon-fiber roof, polycarbonate side and rear windows, and a titanium center-mount exhaust system. Choosing them all—we’d imagine—would add appreciably to the cost, and the company hasn’t said what the car actually weighs without these pricey, ounce-saving extras.

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Mechanical changes are limited. The V8 engine is tweaked slightly to deliver 440 horespower, a 10-hp improvement over the standard S specification. Savings on the scales probably contribute more to Aston Martin claiming a 4.4-second 0-62 mph time, or 0.4-second quicker than its figure for the regular Vantage S. The GT8 also has track-focused suspension geometry with firmer springs and dampers. Both a six-speed manual gearbox and the familiar automated single-clutch ‘Sportshift’ transmissions are offered.

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It’s looking like a protracted farewell tour for the Vantage on its way to retirement. It is set for replacement next year, but Aston has recently been introducing special variants on a once-a-week pace. The version we really want to see would be the combination of the GT8’s carbon and aero package with the V12 Vantage S’s naturally aspirated V-12 engine and new seven-speed manual gearbox.

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